Misconception of the Truth

From the very beginning and even before Merdeka in 1957, the concept of sharing has never existed in Umno plans.

By Hakim Joe

“Umno is most definitely not racist. We could have built a government on our own (before independence), but we decided to share.” – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, DPM Malaysia.

Untrue. When negotiations for self-governing were undertaken between the British and the Malayans before the 1955 general elections, inter-ethnic cooperation was a definite prerequisite established by the colonial authorities as they truly believed that the races needed to work together to create the necessary conditions for a smooth political transition, and that this cooperation could be the only counteraction to the Malayan Communist Party’s claim of being the only movement representing the people’s struggle.

This meant that Umno alone could not have formed the government and gained independence on their own as Britain would not grant independence to Malaya if Umno acted individually. Additionally MCA was invited to the negotiation table by the British alongside Umno after the British realized that in the battle against the communists, the support of the Chinese was crucial and that alienating the Chinese community from the mainstream of politics could undermine the political stability of the entire country.

Two forms of inter-ethnic cooperation were attempted in the pre-independence period. The first was a single multi-ethnic party, the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) formed by Dato Onn Jaafar (founder of Umno) and Tun Tan Cheng Lock (founder of MCA), and
the second was a coalition of ethnic-based parties, the Alliance Party, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Other prominent MCA leaders that supported IMP were Tan Siew Sin, Khoo Teik Ee, Leong Yew Koh and Yong Shook Lin. MIC under K.L. Devaser also supported IMP while H.S. Lee and Ong Yoke Lin (ex-Victoria Institution boy) proposed an Umno-MCA alliance instead and talks were initiated with Yahya Razak (ex-Victoria Institution boy).

Surprisingly, in the 1952 federal capital (Kuala Lumpur) local elections where IMP fielded candidates in all 12 wards, the Umno-MCA Alliance won 9 of the 12 contested seats. Although the electorate numbered only about 11,000 and turnout was 75%, the result was a major boost to the new alliance and it marked the beginning of IMP’s demise.

After the resounding victory, H.S. Lee favored expanding the Umno-MCA alliance and Tunku Abdul Rahman concurred. Even with the IMP on the decline, Tan Cheng Lock was still a powerful political figure as he still commanded unwavering support from the more influential MCA leaders.

H.S. Lee managed to eventually bring Tan Cheng Lock to his viewpoint. On March the 5th, 1952, H.S. Lee alerted Tan Cheng Lock to the Select Committee’s Report on the Immigration Ordinance of 1950. Onn Jaafar was a signatory to the Majority Report with recommendations unfavorable to the Chinese and this was opposed by Chinese members of the Legislative Council. H.S. Lee therefore raised doubts in the mind of Tan Cheng Lock about Onn Jaafar’s commitment to multi-racial fairness.

Eventually, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tan Cheng Lock met on March the 18th after being invited by Ong Yoke Lin. After several more rounds of talks involving other MCA leaders, a nationwide Umno-MCA alliance was institutionalized. IMP hit rock bottom when the news
was announced to the public. Dato Onn Jaafar soon disbanded the IMP and formed the Parti Negara in 1954 to contest the 1955 federal elections.

After the Alliance Party won resoundingly in the 1955 general elections (51 of the 52 seats), they took the lead in negotiating for independence with Britain. PMIP (now PAS) won the other remaining seat while Parti Negara lost in all contested seats.

Why did the founder of Umno, Dato Onn Jaafar leave the party he created? On August the 26th, 1951, Onn Jaafar resigned from Umno after becoming increasingly disgusted with what he considered to be Umno’s communalist policies, and after his repeated calls for
party membership to be opened to all Malayans, and for Umno to be renamed as the United Malayans National Organization were ignored.

From the very beginning and even before Merdeka in 1957, the concept of sharing has never existed in Umno plans.

From the very beginning and even before Merdeka in 1957, the concept of being non-communal (non-racist) has never existed in Umno plans.

From the very beginning and even before Merdeka in 1957, Umno’s concept of forming the government alone was never sustainable, as the British has made it a stipulation that inter-ethnic cooperation was a condition for self-government.