Monday, February 27, 2006

A tale of two Umnos & Dato' Onn Jaafar

Dear Din: The Umno founded by Dato' Onn Jaffar in 1946 was already declared illegal and banned by court in 1988.

The "Umno" now was actually registered as "Umno Baru" in 1988 and it was founded by Dr. Mahathir Mohammad.

Umno and Umno Baru are therefore two entirely different entities and it is very dishonest to claim that Dato' Onn Jaffar founded the present Umno Baru in 1946.

As a matter of fact, after quitting the original or 1946 Umno he founded, Dato' Onn had never rejoined it until his death in 1962. Dato' Onn certainly could not have joined Umno Baru in 1988.

Moreover, after the original or 1946 Umno was buried in history in 1988, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn opposed to the formation of Umno Baru by Dr. Mahathir Mohammad. They never joined Umno Baru. In other words, the Tunku and Tun Hussein Onn died as partyless citizens.

Tun Abdul Razak who passed away in 1976 also could not have joined Umno Baru in 1988.

By the way, Dato' Onn Jaafar was not as uncontroversial as it is now re-packaged by Umno Baru's propaganda. His slogan Hidup Melayu! was considered by the then progressive forces, including the broad Malay Left (some inside Umno) and the Communist Party of Malaya, to be parochial, conservative and reactionary and they succeeded in changing the popular slogan to Merdeka! which is more inclusive.

On the question of independence, Dato' Onn was also considered too pro-British or as a darling of British colonialism even by people like Tunku Abdul Rahman. Read-lah the memoirs of Abdullah CD, Rashid Maidin and Abu Samah to understand another or less glorious side of Dato' Onn Jaafar. Pak Rashid's memoirs, for example, have some sarcastic and not very positive references to Dato' Onn Jaafar.

Of course, Dato' Onn is also remembered as one who advocated the opening up of Umno (1946) to non-Malays. But then, after his multiethnic Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) failed, he reverted to a position trying to out-Malay Tunku's Umno. His opportunism caused his credibility to be questioned by all and led him nowhere in the end.


Blogger thyechong said...


Thanks for putting the record straight. It is high time that the present UMNO’s pretension of being the original UMNO founded in 1946 be exposed as a fraud. Not only is the present UMNO - which should have stuck to its legal name of UMNO BARU - an entirely different political party by legal definition, it bears no resemblance to the original one founded in 1946. While UMNO BARU is synonymous with “money politics” and a hotbed where leaders amass fast personal wealth through cronyism and corruption, UMNO was a nationalist party single-mindedly pursuing the cause of Malays.

I am also glad that you have restored Onn Jaffar’s political role during the early days of Malaya to its proper perspective. My recollection of him then was not a multi-racialist but a leader who fought only for the Malays, though he did advocate UMNO opening its doors to the non-Malays at the earlier stage.

Kim Quek

2:21 AM  

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