“I ain’t alone claiming UMNO has strayed from its original nation-building cause”

THE first four UMNO presidents – Datuk Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn – would never have made the brutally frank speech which the current UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made at the 76th MIC general assembly on Oct 10.

Zahid has likened the forthcoming 15th General Election (GE15) as necessary to save UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) ‘court clusters’ from being charged in court for corruption and being sent to jail.

None of the first four UMNO presidents will countenance Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy with its infamy worldwide, let alone “kleptocracy at its worst”!

In the early days of UMNO when the party had no money, Tunku Abdul Rahman sold his house in Penang to fund the running of UMNO.

Razak Hussein’s “swimming pool” is now famous because of the recounting of his youngest son Datuk Seri Nazir who recalled his father – with eyebrows raised – asking: “How would it look if the Prime Minister (PM) spent public money on building a swimming pool for his family?”

At the UMNO general assembly in 1979, the then PM Tun Hussein warned that Malaysia will be destroyed if its leaders were “dishonest, untrustworthy and corrupt”.

He expressed the hope that the Bank Rakyat scandal would be a “bitter lesson to other government institutions and agencies, including companies and subsidiaries set up by the Government”.

Rejected by the people

Lim Kit Siang

But from a RM100 mil Bank Rakyat scandal in 1979, the loss has ballooned to RM50 bil in the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) scandal three decades later while the latest littoral combatant ships (LCS) scandal cost the country RM9 bil.

In the early years of UMNO, its leaders asked the Malays and the people to sacrifice for the nation’s future.

But after six decades, UMNO leaders are asking the Malays and Malaysians to vote for UMNO/BN in the GE15 to keep leaders of the coalition from being charged in court for corruption and being sent to jail.

Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam is one of those from UMNO who urged members of the party to steer it in the right direction as it has drifted from the initial “spirit of nationalism to the lust for materialism, wealth and individual interests”.

In a forum organised by the association of former UMNO elected representatives, (Mubarak) in Johore, Musa was concerned that UMNO would not win the sufficient number of seats required to form the federal government and be reduced to a minority after GE15.

He said the interests of the people are no longer prioritised in UMNO which is suffering from a leadership crisis “like never before”.

Musa said UMNO members could no longer remain silent to safeguard their own position and stressed:  “If we don’t do something or are not wise in choosing (leaders) … (but) use only emotions, sentiments or money to amass power like in the past, then UMNO will be finished after it is rejected by the people”.

Judiciary attack

Will Musa’s prophecy for UMNO come true in GE15? Another area which the first four UMNO presidents will not be able to recognise or endorse are the attacks on the rule of law and independence of the judiciary by the present UMNO leaders.

In the early decades of nationhood, Malaysia produced Lord Presidents who were juristic luminaries like Tun Suffian Hashim, Sultan Azlan Shah and Tun Salleh Abas, then there was a void when the doctrine of separation of powers and the principle of independence of the judiciary came under a cloud.

But the jailing of ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Aug 23 this year marked a new era whereby the judiciary showed that it would not be overawed from playing its independent constitutional role under Lord President Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

The first four UMNO presidents would never have attacked the independence of the judiciary in the way it was attacked by the present UMNO leaders.

Zahid claimed to be concerned about the erosion of the integrity of the judiciary and that Najib’s SRC International case would soon to referenced by Commonwealth nations as an unfair trial.

When did Zahid started to worry about Malaysia’s adverse reputation in the world whether about the independence of the judiciary or Malaysia’s kleptocracy?

For a start, if Zahid is concerned about international opinion, is he going to explain why as Defence Minister in July 2011 he had overturned his own decision as recommended by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) to contract six Dutch-made Sigma LCS?

In so doing, he has chosen the Scorpene manufacturer’s six French-made Gowind LCS within three days without consulting the Royal Malaysian Navy who is the end-user – hence, the major cause of the RM9 bil LCS scandal, the new 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.

Will UMNO ever return to the nation-building principles as spelt out by the nation’s founding fathers in the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara? Isn’t this what the GE15 is all about? – Oct 21, 2022


Veteran lawmaker and DAP supremo Lim kit Siang is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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