After the Second World War the British returned to Malaya with a new agenda, a radical post war political changes. To bring the whole of the Federated Malay States, the Non-Federated Malay States and the Strait Settlements of Penang and Malacca (excluding Singapore) directly under British rule.
Sir Harold McMichael, on the orders of the British Government persisted on creating a Malayan Union with a view of promoting common citizenship and one administration for the three differing types of government in existence then.
The British,with royal assent of all the rulers after being threatened by the British, bulldozed the so-called Union without considering the feeling and position of the Malay masses.Malay injured pride and opposition rose under the late Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar who fought vigorously against the Malayan Union.
Out of this crisis, a new baby was born.
UMNO, a Malay political party was formed on May 11 1946 to fight the Malayan Union.Malays, from every states and settlements condemned the Union and wore white cloth around their hats as a sign of mourning, in fact it was a signal to live or die for the cause.To fight for Malay rights and restore its dignity.The battle cry then was 'Hidup Melayu' resonating throughout the land called 'Tanah Melayu' as the Malays called it then and Federation of Malaya as the British eventually named it.
Sensing trouble and not wanting to repeat the bloody debacle they had in India the British give way to the demand. UMNO practically threw out the Union and a revised Constitution was subsequently drawn up giving legal sovereignty back to the Sultans with the British taking advisory role through its British Residents.
The opposition against the Malayan Union was solely by the Malays.The migrants races were not involved then.
The late Tengku and later Tun Mahathir Mohammed reminded the sultans that they were the ones who surrendered the royal sovereignty to the British without even a whimper of a fight.It was UMNO that fought, tooth and nail, to demolish the Union and restore sovereignty back to the sultans.
During the period of communist insurrection UMNO's nationalist movement was overshadowed by the communists cry for independence of Malaya.The communist armed struggle was to free Malaya of imperialist rule and turn it into a communist state aligned to communist China.It was not Chin Peng intention to free Malaya as a democratic entity.His armed struggle continued until after independence.The notion by some Malaysians that he was a freedom fighter to free the masses from imperialist rule is pure hogwash.Any armed struggle against a democratically elected government is considered a rebellion.The Baling Treaty was a mistake it should have not included him free from prosecution.Chin Peng should have been hung or given life imprisonment for treason.It's water under the bridge now.Let him live peacefully in exile.
Suspicious of British intention the Malays were beginning to get restless. A number of Malays turned to Indonesia in the hope of getting help to free Malaya through a union with Indonesia.Some even went over to Indonesia and hatched plans for the take-over of Malaya.None of the plans ever materialised.
Meanwhile, Onn Jaafar was losing his grip on UMNO.The intellectuals in the party were against his idea of a multi-racial party and his misty idea of independence.An Independent Malaya with control of foreign affairs still in the hands of the British.The Malays rejected the half-baked proposal.There could only be one answer, either stay as British subjects or fight for true independence.Onn left UMNO and formed a new party called Independence of Malaya Party.With the departure of Onn UMNO was in disarray, no money, no spirit and like a ship without rudder.With Jaafar gone the party needs a new leader.
In 1951 the Malay spirit was again rekindled by those loyal to the cause of the Malays and independence.It was decided to reform the party. Tengku Abdul Rahman took over the helm and moved the headquarters from Johor to Telok Ayer Tawar, Province Wellesley and ran the party from there for the next 9 months. The "Hidup Melayu" gave way to a new battle cry "Merdeka" and it changed from cause of the Malays to cause of independence.
This time the situation called for a united effort of all the races particularly the Chinese and Indians who formed significant portion of the population.It was not an easy task as UMNO was seen as a racialist Malay party and seen as a party opposed to other races.The qualification of citizenship for the Chinese and Indians was a dicey issue and the Tengku has three difficult tasks to attend to.Getting the Malays to make some sacrifices on the question of citizenship for the migrant races, to convince the Chinese and Indians that they have a permanent place in the new nation and to convince the rulers to accept an independent nation.
What happened to rulers in India and Indonesia got the rulers worried that they may lose their powers under an independent state.Tengku eventually succeeded on all fronts and an alliance was formed with the Chinese and Indians.Demand for independence was made.The British was pussyfooting.They played the delaying game.The Alliance decided to have a showdown with the British, withdrawing all their members from all the Councils as a show of unity and strength.This was when I Malaya truly exists.
The British realising the seriousness of the situation gave in.Elections was held and the Alliance Party swept every seats contested except one.
On 31 August 1957 Malaya was declared an independent nation.Six years later a new nation was born.The formation of Malaysia comprising Malaya, Sabah,Sarawak and Singapore.In 1965, Singapore left or rather kicked out to become an independent nation.
For over half a century Malaysia have not had change of government.It has been ruled by the same group of people.
On 8 March 2008, for the first time in over 50 years, Malaysians have bared their chests and delivered nasty blow to the uninterrupted reign of the BN government.The results of that elections have shown the people's frustration and opposition to the way the government have been turned into personal fiefdom of the powers that be and the institutionalised corruptions therein. The oppositions won in 5 states and denied the BN government of its two-thirds majority in Parliament.
In less than 2 years the political scenario has changed. The euphoria has turned to dismay for the oppositions.Defections and departure of its lawmakers particularly from PKR has thrown the coalition into turmoil and uncertainty.More are expected to leave which will eventually give the BN its two-thirds majority.Much of the dissatisfactions were due to Anwar.The other coalition members, PAS and DAP do not have such problems.
Recent developments are worrying the oppositions.A political shift in the Malay hinterland.A return to the days of the Malayan Union..... the spirit of "Hidup Melayu" has been rekindled by the constant barrage of abomination of the Malays by the oppositions.People like Lim Kit Siang has in many ways helped to rekindle the "Hidup Melayu" spirit.
The recent assembly of 76 Malay NGOs to form one consultative council to defend Malay rights and Islam is the first step to a bigger and more intensive revival of the "Hidup Melayu" spirit that was last heard six decades ago....the objection against the Malayan Union.
This time the spirit is not only against the erosion of Malay rights under the constitution but serious matters of religion.The predominantly Muslim Malays felt sacrilegious attack on Islam when the Catholic Church insisted on the use of Allah. Right or wrong, that's what many Malays believe in.
An aggressive campaign would soon be underway to woo young Malay voters and sow the spirit of "Hidup Melayu" in them.PKR will lose more of its Malay lawmakers due to disillusionment with Anwar Ibrahim and the desire to join and strengthen the Malay cause.
Have we matured politically? Going by the political antics from both sides we certainly have not.
Malaysia is just not ready for political oneness no matter what the opposition Pakatan Rakyat claimed.They, themselves, are spitting images of the BN, a coalition based on the same racial line.
With daily rhetoric from people like Lim Kit Siang, driving the wedge between the Malays and non-Malays deeper and deeper, how could there be racial harmony.In Sabah, he again played the dangerous game, stirring racial sentiments among the KDM community.
The opposition can shout otherwise but race politics and the deterioting race relations in Malaysia and the rise of "Hidup Melayu" are much contributed by the oppositions.
Has Malaysia come of age?
No! We have not.Don't kid yourself.The very same people who talked about bringing the various races together are doing exactly the opposite, causing bigger rift among the races.
The next elections will see a major shift of the Malay votes back to UMNO.It would be the Malays on one side with the Indians and the Chinese and Anwar Ibrahim on the other side.
Notes:Some references are taken from the late Tunku Abdul Rahman's Viewpoints