Usually people tend to claim to be younger than their actual age. But not the people in Umno. No not individually but as a group.
They have been at it for years. This year, they are saying their party is 71 years old. Hence, today being Umno Day, the party is celebrating its 71st birthday.
Going by history that Umno was formed on 11 May 1946 by the late Datuk Onn Jaafar, the Umno folks are right.
But wait, wasn’t that Umno of ’46, pardon the expression, “dead and buried ” back in 1988?
A quick throwback.
Older readers would surely remember. But I’ll write it anyway, for the younger readers who might not be familiar with the story. And even for those who knew, well, take a trip down memory lane all the same.
On 24 April 1987, Umno held its annual general assembly and triennial party election after a vicious and bitter campaign.
Fighting for power was Team A led by then president Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his deputy Ghafar Baba, against Team B headed by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah aided by Musa Hitam as number two.
Mahathir and Ghafar won.Two of the three vice presidents elected were from Team A, and the supreme council made up of 16 Team A members compared to nine from Team B.
Then allegations of irregularities, said to be hurled by Team B supporters, surfaced.
On 25 June 1987, an appeal was made by 12 Umno delegates (one pulled out subsequently) to have the Umno assembly and the 24 April election declared null.
In short, the issue was brought to the court. After a series of interlocutory hearings over the discovery of documents that took more than seven months, the matter finally came before Justice Harun Hashim in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 4 February 1988.
The judge ruled that under existing law he had no option but to find the party, Umno, to be an unlawful society due to the existence of several unregistered branches which contravened the Societies Act of 1966.
Hence, the question of the assembly itself being illegal (sought by the 11 Umno delegates) became academic.
So, based on the High Court decision, Umno the party “died”, again pardon the expression, on 4 February 1988. And it was not revived. Never resurrected.
Instead, Dr Mahathir put into motion the machinery to form a new party, a surrogate party, so to speak, and in due course registered it formally calling it Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (Baru) or United Malays National Organisation (New), meaning the new Umno registered by Mahathir back then, which is the current Umno led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was born in 1988.
Which makes the party a youngish 29 years old instead of the 71 years presently trumpeted all over the country.
Umno must have its own reasons for wanting to be known older than its present age, perhaps to show credibility, longevity and sustainability?
Or perhaps because of this — the suffix “Baru” was eventually dropped and Umno (Baru) became both the de facto and de jure successor of Umno (with the old Umno’s assets handed to them).
Maybe that’s why Umno now calls itself simply Umno and not Umno Baru anymore.
The fact remains although the Umno of Datuk Onn is long gone. What we now have is a replacement. Not a or a resurrected version nor a reincarnation of the Umno formed in 1946.
Anyway, Selamat Hari Ulang Tahun Umno!