The decision to admit Umno Baru into Barisan National has to be unanimous and even if just one party disagrees then Umno Baru cannot become a member of the coalition. However, before the meeting was held, all the Presidents of the component parties in Barisan Nasional were told that on the day of the meeting the military will be on ‘red alert’ and if Umno Baru was not admitted into Barisan Nasional, or if Mahathir (who would not be attending the meeting since he is no longer the Chairman and Umno is no longer a member) was ousted, then Malaysia would come under military rule.
Not many Malaysians are aware that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was technically no longer the Prime Minister in February 1988. Umno had been deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) so the party was no longer a member of Barisan Nasional and Mahathir was no longer the coalition Chairman.
Mahathir should have resigned as Prime Minister in February 1988 or they could have passed a vote of no confidence in Parliament to remove Mahathir (and they had enough votes to do that because only about 50 of the 177 Members of Parliament were with Mahathir). Mahathir, however, warned Barisan Nasional that if they tried to remove him as Prime Minister (and allow Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to take over) he would use the military to take over and Parliament would be suspended like it once was in 1969).
Tengku Razaleigh says he won the Umno Presidency in 1987 but Mahathir cheated and robbed him of the post of Malaysian Prime Minister
Tengku Razaleigh and the rest of Barisan Nasional knew that Mahathir would do that because three months earlier he had appointed his brother-in-law as the new Armed Forces Chief as a preemptive strike in case they tried to oust him. Mahathir felt that most of Barisan Nasional was behind Tengku Razaleigh and in the event of a ‘hung’ party election the swing would be towards ‘Team B’.
According to Tengku Razaleigh, he had won the party election but Mahathir cheated. There was talk of the lights going out and stuffed votes and so on. In the end Mahathir scraped through with a razor-thin majority and Tengku Razaleigh was robbed of his Umno Presidency and of the post of Prime Minister as well.
Mahathir wanted to get rid of Tengku Razaleigh and his ‘Team B’ once and for all so he asked the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to deregister Umno. The RoS told Mahathir that Umno’s crime was not serious enough to warrant a deregistration. All they needed to do was to hold the party election again but Mahathir did not want that. He knew if he held the party election again then this time he was going to lose and Tengku Razaleigh would take over as the new Umno President and hence the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.
So Mahathir insisted that the RoS deregister Umno to avoid having to hold the party election again.
Mahathir made his brother-in-law the Armed Forces Chief three months before he asked the RoS to deregister Umno
Incidentally, this is also what Lim Kit Siang hoped to do. That was why he refused to hold a party re-election after the December 2012 party election and the September 2013 re-election were declared null and void. They were hoping that this will then help avoid a new party re-election because the only way they can prevent Tan Seng Giaw and his ‘Team B’ from taking over the party would be to continue to cheat in the party re-election.
Anyway, the RoS refused to deregister DAP so they were still forced to hold a party re-election recently and they had to continue to cheat to prevent Tan Seng Giaw and gang from taking over. If they did not hold a party re-election then DAP might not be able to contest the coming general election under its own banner or flag and may have to tompang the PAN banner-flag (like what almost happened in the 2013 general election when DAP wanted to contest the general election using the PAS banner-flag).
So, in 1988, Mahathir insisted that the RoS deregister Umno and then Tengku Razaleigh’s people quickly submitted an application to register a new party called Umno Malaysia. When Mahathir found out he panicked and he told his Deputy, Tun Ghafar Baba, to quickly also submit an application to register a new Umno, which they called Umno Baru.
Ghafar Baba submitted Umno Baru’s application three days AFTER Umno Malaysia did, but the RoS rejected Umno Malaysia and approved Umno Baru
Ghafar’s Political Secretary, Kamarudin Jaffar, spent three days working on Umno Baru’s new party constitution and then submitted the application to register Umno Baru. The RoS then announced since Umno Baru had applied to use the Umno name first then Umno Malaysia had to be rejected (although Umno Malaysia submitted its application three days before Umno Baru). Umno Malaysia was then changed to Semangat 46, which means the spirit of 1946, the year when Umno was first registered.
Now DAP is facing the same problem as what Umno faced in 1988 (about having to hold a new party election instead of getting deregistered to avoid having to hold a new party election where you, again, will have to cheat to prevent ‘Team B’ from taking over the party — in this case ‘Team B’ being Tan Seng Giaw and gang).
DAP’s problem, compounded by PPBM’s problem with its youth movement, is now an obstacle to getting Pakatan Harapan registered. It was like when Umno Baru had to stay out of Barisan Nasional in 1988 to avoid getting Barisan Nasional deregistered as well.
Liong Sik was asked to chair the Barisan Nasional meeting to approve Umno Baru’s entry into the coalition and if they did not approve Umno Baru’s membership then the military would be asked to take over and Parliament would be suspended
Actually, for a number of months Umno Baru was not a member of Barisan Nasional so Mahathir was no longer the Chairman of Barisan Nasional. The Chairman of Barisan Nasional was Ling Liong Sik, the President of MCA. Mahathir was the President of Umno Baru — but then Umno Baru did not control the majority of the seats in Parliament (Barisan National did, which Umno Baru was not a part of).
According to the Barisan Nasional agreed structure, Mahathir should have resigned as Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional would have to propose a new Prime Minister for the approval of His Majesty the Agong. But Mahathir refused to resign and hand power to Barisan Nasional, which he was no longer the Chairman of and Umno was no longer a member of.
In October 1987, Mahathir appointed his brother-in-law as the new Armed Forces Chief so that he could have control of the military. He then told Barisan Nasional that although he was now considered the illegal Prime Minister, if they tried to remove him he would ask the military to take over and Parliament would be suspended.
So no one dared ask Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister or to pass a vote of no confidence in Parliament to remove him (although they had enough votes to do so). Barisan Nasional was asked to hold a meeting with Liong Sik chairing the meeting (and in the Umno headquarters, mind you) to approve Umno Baru as a new coalition member.
The decision to admit Umno Baru into Barisan National has to be unanimous (sebulat suara) and even if just one party disagrees then Umno Baru cannot become a member of the coalition. However, before the meeting was held, all the Presidents of the component parties in Barisan Nasional were told that on the day of the meeting the military will be on ‘red alert’ and if Umno Baru was not admitted into Barisan Nasional, or if Mahathir (who would not be attending the meeting since he is no longer the Chairman and Umno is no longer a member) was ousted, then Malaysia would come under military rule.
Raja Petra Kamarudin