I am not the only person saying that UMNO has strayed from UMNO’s original nation-building principles embedded in the Constitution and Rukun Negara

I am not the only person saying that UMNO has strayed from UMNO’s original nation-building principles embedded in the Constitution and Rukun Negara.

The first four UMNO Presidents, Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak Hussein and Hussein Onn would never have made the brutally frank speech which the current UMNO President, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, made at the MIC Assembly last week – that the coming general election is to save UMNO and Barisan Nasional “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 world-wide, let alone “kleptocracy at its worst”!

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

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

In 1979, at the UMNO General Assembly, the then Prime Minister, Hussein Onn warned that Malaysia will be destroyed if its leaders were “dishonest, untrustworthy and corrupt” and 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”.

But from a RM100 million Bank Rakyat scandal in 1979, we have ballooned to a RM50 billion 1MDB scandal three decades later as well as many other mega scandals, including the latest, the RM9 billion littoral combatant ships (LCS) scandal.

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

But after six decades, UMNO leaders asked the Malays and the people to vote for UMNO/Barisan Nasional in the 15th General Election to keep UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders from being charged in court for corruption and being sent to jail.

Former Deputy Prime Minister, Musa Hitam, is one of those from UMNO who urged Umno members to steer the party 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 the next general election.

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)… 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”.

Will Musa’s prophecy for UMNO come true in the 15th General Election?

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 Suffian, Azlan Shah and 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 Najib on August 23, 2022 marked a new era where the Judiciary showed that it would not be overawed from playing its independent constitutional role under Lord President 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 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 and chose the Scorpene manufacturer’s six French-made Gowind LCS within three days without consulting the Navy, the end-user – the major cause of the RM9 billion 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 Constitution and Rukun Negara – constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, separation of powers, rule of law, an independent judiciary, good governance, public integrity with minimum corruption, meritocracy, respect for human rights and national unity from our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural diversity where there are no first-class and second-class citizens whether based on race, religion or region.

This is what the 15th General Election is all about.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Veteran