Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How old is "Umno" ? Whose, which "Umno" ?

According to its " information" campaign uncritically accepted by the mainstream media, including the non-Umno ones, "Umno" will celebrate its 60th anniversary on 11 May.

It assumes or is imagined that the "Umno" as we know it now was founded on 11 May 1946 in Johor Baru.

However, true historical fact says that the Umno founded on 11 May 1946 in Johor Baru was already declared an illegal organisation by court in 1988 and the "Umno" as we know it now is actually registered as Umno Baru not long after the 1988 court decision by (now Tun) Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his hardcore supporters like Tan Sri Sanusi Junid. In 1988, PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's son-in-law and deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin was only a Darjah Lima primary school student.

Also as a matter of historical and public record, Dato' Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were never members of of Umno Baru or the "Umno" as we know it now. Dato' Onn Jaafar and Tun Abdul Razak were not member of Umno Baru because they were no longer around in this world in 1988. Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn refused to join Umno Baru after their Umno was deregistered and the application to register Umno Malaysia or Umno 88 was rejected by the Registrar of Society under the Home Ministry whose minister was none other than Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who, unsurprisingly, quickly and successfully registered his Umno Baru.

Harold Crouch's Government & Society in Malaysia (Allen & Unwin, New South Wales, 1996) and many other books and archived newspapers still keep detailed accounts of what happened in 1987-1988. Personally, I was also a close observer of that drama as a political secretary in the Office of the Leader of Parliamentary Opposition.

So, the "Umno" as we know it now or the Umno Baru under the leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is only 18, not 60, years old. It was founded by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, not Dato' Onn Jaafar or Tunku Abdul Rahman. Also, it is publicly very misleading for Umno Baru to exploit the names, images and legends of non-members like Dato' Onn Jaafar (1895-1962) , Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903-1900), Tun Abdul Razak (1922-1976) or Tun Hussein Onn (1922-1990) for publicity in its celeberation of the bogus "60 year" anniversary.

By the way, even the original (1946) Umno could be divided into the Umno under the leadership of Dato' Onn Jaafar which used the sectarian and racial slogan Hidup Melayu! (1946-1951) and the Umno under Tunku Abdul Rahman (after 1951) which, under popular pressure from the multiethnic Broad Left which included Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM), changed the rallying cry to the more anti-colonial and racially inclusive Merdeka!

Of course, it is well known that, after quitting the original (1946) Umno in August 1951 and fought it under the banners of the Independence Malaya Party and National Party, Dato' Onn Jaafar had never returned to the Umno he founded on 11 May, 1946.

A challenge to Umno's version of Merdeka history ( in Chinese)