Home » General » “THE LOST UMNO” by Y.B.M. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on Tuesday, 21st September 2021 at Dewan Rakyat, Parlimen Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

“THE LOST UMNO” by Y.B.M. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on Tuesday, 21st September 2021 at Dewan Rakyat, Parlimen Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

“THE LOST UMNO” by Y.B.M. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on Tuesday, 21st September 2021 at Dewan Rakyat, Parlimen Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 

1. The Dewan Rakyat is the center of the political life of Malaysia. It is important therefore to preserve its integrity. If the Dewan Rakyat fails, the country fails. 

2. The crisis we face today is the standing of the Dewan Rakyat in the eyes of the people at a time when the people are facing untold suffering and uncertainty never before in the history of Malaysia. It is in this atmosphere of uncertainty and suffering that Malaysian politics must be right. If the politics that is in the Dewan Rakyat is wrong and the politics of the parties are wrong, then there is no way that we can solve the people’s problem and the people will be without an institution whom they can rely on not only to express their suffering, their desperation and their uncertainty but also to look towards a solution. 

3. Our political system depends on how each individual member of the Dewan Rakyat conducts himself in the Dewan Rakyat as representatives of the people. We must believe that this Dewan Rakyat is the Dewan of the people, and therefore we have a fiduciary duty to all our citizens to do the best we can in terms of our politics and our responsibility to ensure that this politics is about the policies that affect the lives of the people and determine the direction in which the nation will take in order to alleviate the suffering and uncertainty they face. 

4. Unfortunately, political parties play an important role in the Dewan Rakyat. Our political system is dependent on political parties, and therefore the representatives in the Dewan Rakyat are subject to the control or influence of the political parties in how they conduct themselves in the Dewan Rakyat. If the politics of the party are corrupt, irresponsible, self-serving, and a means of power and money, and if that is reflected in the Dewan Rakyat, no policies of any sort will help the Rakyat ultimately because of the distortion corruption does to politics. 

5. The Dewan Rakyat, in the eyes of the public, is no longer held in the same esteem and respect it had in the past. There is a feeling among the public that the Dewan Rakyat is influenced and manipulated by political corruption, and is a means to enrich a few at the expense of the people. The belief of the public is that the Dewan Rakyat suffers from political corruption. 

6. It is not easy to define political corruption. It takes on many forms, and the evidence of political corruption are sometimes seen and sometimes unseen. One eminent judge described it as ‘a worm in the bud’ that will eat up our democracy. We must therefore find means to destroy these ‘worms’ that have infested the Dewan Rakyat, and it is not an easy task. We must begin by getting our politics right. Only then will we get our policies right, whatever they may be – whether it is policies in economics or health or education. Politics eventually decides what these policies should be and how they should be implemented. If politics is caught in the web of corruption, all the fine statements made in the Dewan Rakyat are ultimately useless to the people. We must get our politics and our party politics right. This is fundamental for the survival of our nation. 

7. It is in this context that I want to explain the history behind the decline of politics by using the example of what has happened to UMNO that was founded in 1946 but declared unlawful in 1989 and a different UMNO was set up. There is now a feeling among the vast majority of the Malays and non-Malays that the political parties are in disarray and have failed. UMNO’s role in the past was crucial, and therefore it is important that I explain the decline of the politics by examining the state of UMNO that was founded in 1989 and in comparison with the UMNO that was founded in 1946. 

8. I refer to Professor Samshul Amri Baharuddin’s article in “Sinar Harian” on 13- 01-2021. The article was about the decline of UMNO and its inability to rectify mistakes and to understand its own predicament to be relevant to the Malays. In its present state as a party, it is divided and incapable of the kind of leadership the crisis and the nation demands. I am not disagreeing with the Professor but I think his reference to UMNO needs clarity. 

9. The UMNO he is referring to is not the UMNO that was formed in 1946; that UMNO went through several stages of development including fundamental changes in its vision for the Malays. It was inclusive and was committed to constitutional democracy and the rule of law. Political history will show Malay nationalism had a progressive role and UMNO was influenced by some of the ideas that were universal. 

10.The membership of UMNO then understood that quality leadership was fundamental to achieving the objectives of the party for the nation and its role in leading the nation. Those that were elected to the role of leadership at all levels from the branches, divisions and the national level were based on the integrity, ability, knowledge and capability of assuming the responsibility of leadership and providing an expanding vision of the future for the Malays and their place in the nation. The vision was not stagnant and not based on personality. 

11. When in 1948 the Malay Nationalist Party was banned, this was a watershed moment because many members of the Malay Nationalist Party decided to join UMNO. This critical change in membership of UMNO had a significant influence. The individuals brought with them their ideals. Historians are yet to study this change. UMNO became more nationalistic, and had economic and social programs for the advancement of the Malays. It attracted the best and the brightest for the leadership of UMNO. It is history in waiting. It expanded to every town and village in Malaysia. It was truly representative of the Malays, with a universal vision. Members and leaders contributed to the party’s financial needs. Members respected their leaders for their integrity. 

12. It had also a vision for Malaysia which was to build a nation in cooperation with other communities. The Federal Constitution that was negotiated by UMNO leaders provided for a common citizenship and affirmative action to correct the economic imbalances that alienated the Malays from the mainstream economy. It was an ongoing project to modernize the Malays as self-reliant. 

13.  In 1988, 42 years later, UMNO was deregistered, which was an outlandish and absurd decision. At that time UMNO was the ruling party with 3 million members and was the elected party in power in accordance with the constitution. It was the Government and UMNO could not for any reason be legally declared unlawful and deregistered. The decisions of the court and the Registrar of Societies were not based on law but on politics to favour the incumbent leadership. Yet it happened and the Malays were numbed. And a new party by the same name was formed by those responsible for deregistering UMNO. It is now clear UMNO was declared unlawful and then deregistered for the ulterior purpose of capturing its leadership undemocratically and against the law. It was a decision without any legitimacy whatsoever and an abuse of political power. My lawyer will explain the legal reasoning when necessary. 

14. This new so-called UMNO did not have the historical mission or the organic roots in the villages and towns. It was not a movement or a party; it was an organization imposed on the members. 

15.The new UMNO became a party of a new political class to enrich themselves. It became a commercial enterprise. It destroyed the soul of the Malays. Greed became king. And there was a national meltdown of public morality, the standards of conduct of those who seek public responsibility and political office. This meltdown was in the context of economic policy of privatization of “public goods” the national assets for common benefits of all citizens. I referred briefly to the economic policy and financial factors that led to the decline of UMNO of 1988 because to understand what happened to UMNO can only be understood in context behind of what happened. 

16. Organized in a hierarchy of financial rewards and favours; political corruption became a political right in exchange for support of party positions. Political corruption as an unlawful act has yet to find its place as a danger to our constitutional democracy unlike other jurisdictions. We need to destroy this worm in the bud if we are true to the constitutional oath to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution. 

17.Leaders of political parties, judiciary, cabinet and Members of Parliament must remember they have a duty to the nation and its people. Not to uphold the Rule of Law and the Constitution is a betrayal. It is the abuse of politics and power that has created the present state of the Dewan Rakyat and the suffering of the Rakyat. We need to change the direction of politics to save our people and the nation. 

18. For UMNO to continue to play a national role we need to rectify the historical in justice and reclaim the political, legal and constitutional right of the original UMNO. This right to reclaim is based on the legal right of UMNO to claim that the decisions by the Courts and the Registrar are nullities with no legal consequences or legitimacy whatsoever. 

19. It was a coup d’état by using our weak institutional and legal system. We need to change this state of affairs before it happens again. It was a capture of the party and the state for its resources and as a means to enrich those who control the state apparatus. 

20. I have never left the original UMNO. I was the contestant for the President’s post in 1987. I therefore claim that I am the agent of necessity for UMNO that was formed in 1946 and its representative in the Dewan Rakyat. I am part of the original UMNO Parliamentary Party with mission to restore UMNO’s legal and constitutional rights and to do whatever necessary to restore its place in national politics and the national interest. 

21. I have stated in the above paragraph that it was a coup d’état by using “our weak institutional and legal system.” This is a profound warning to Malaysia that if we do not recognize the importance of ensuring that our “institutions and legal system” should be uncompromising in their integrity and independence from the incumbent political powers, Malaysia’s Constitution will not be worth the paper it is printed on, and our democracy will die a slow death. It will be a silent coup against our objective of achieving a constitutional democracy for all Malaysians and to have trust in our democratic system and the rule of Law. 

22.  When democracy is squeezed out of the Constitution, we may not realize it or be alarmed. Those who want to maintain power have realized how to organize a coup without tanks and soldiers on the streets. What happened in 1988 is a forewarning. If we do not rectify the damage that was done, we will be committing irreparable damage to our democracy, particularly the breakdown of trust in our political system and our leaders. 

23. The question that may be asked is what is the relevance or importance of reviving “THE LOST UMNO” 5 / 7 an UMNO that was founded 74 years ago and was deregistered more than 30 years ago. It is an important question and must be answered. 

24.  The UMNO that was formed in 1946 was a movement not just a name of the party. UMNO was larger than the party. It was a movement that sustained the party. UMNO became a political symbol larger than the membership or the party, and in the imagination of the Malays it is still a movement in every village, town and city. Removing such an icon will leave a dangerous vacuum to be exploited by populists and opportunists. Therefore, must never give up that political space. 

25.  For the first time in our history, the Dewan Rakyat is in a state of crisis. We need to bring back structure and stability to the Dewan Rakyat. This can only be achieved with an UMNO that has a historical responsibility to all Malaysians. 

26. I have given a broad political and legal explanation claiming the political and legal right to exist. In doing so, I have also invoked the legal principle of nullity to challenge the decisions by the courts and the Registrar of Societies. The Law of nullity was explained by the Federal Court in Eu Finance Berhad v Lim Yoke Foo (1982 ) 2 MLJ 37. 

 27. The relevant excerpt on the Judgment states: “The general rule is that where an order is a nullity, an appeal is somewhat useless as despite any decision on appeal, such an order can be successfully attacked in collateral proceedings, it proceedings, before any court or tribunal and whenever it is relied upon – in other words it is subject to collateral attack. In collateral proceedings the court may declare an act that purports to bind to be non-existent”. In Harkness v Bell’s Asbestos and Engineering Ltd [196 7} 2 QB 72 9, 736, Lord Diplock L. J. (now a La w Lord} said (at page 736) that it has been long la id down that where an order is a nullity, the person whon1 the order purports to affect has the option either of ignoring it or of going to the court and asking for it to be set aside. 

28. The decision of the Courts and the Registrar of Societies are nullities on jurisdiction grounds, which is the fundamental principle that governs the Rule of Law. The law does not allow the High Court or the Registrar of Societies to make the decision to declare UMNO unlawful nor the Registrar of Societies to deregister UMNO because some branches are yet to be registered, which is an administrative act. Section 12(3) states in clear precise language: “Where a registered society establishes a branch without the prior approval of the Registrar the branch so established shall be an unlawful society.” There is no ambiguity. In any event, the administration of the Societies Act is the jurisdiction of the Registrar of Societies, not the Courts. The application by the lawyers to declare UMNO unlawful was an abuse of the judicial process, and the Court should have rejected the application. 

29. The principle of nullity is based on the legal principle that no judgment can be binding if the Court or authority which rendered it was without legal jurisdiction. 

30. It is more than 30 years since UMNO was deregistered. The length of time that has taken me to take this step of challenging the legitimacy of that decision to declare UMNO unlawful and deregister reflects the difficulties and seriousness of the issues involved. I had to be absolutely certain that I am right in saying the deregistration of UMNO in 1988 was a nullity because it was a breach of all legal and constitutional principles. It was an act of subterfuge and a political coup d’état. A well concealed worm in the bud that subterfuged Malaysia’s democracy. This exposure is necessary to avoid the abuse of power and irreparable damage to our democracy in future. 

31. We are living in very difficult times in terms of national cohesion, race relations, religious tolerance, collective national economic vision, institutional confidence, stable political system and political parties, to support a constitutional democracy. Democracy depends on responsible and knowledgeable critical mass of citizens involved in the politics of national well-being. We have a problem reflected in the rise of mediocrity and the decline of politics. The best has lost hope and the worst are full of passion in their posturing. This has resulted in a sense in leadership crisis. There is an urgency, and all Malaysians face the same urgency. The race religious vision is a dangerous illusion if it becomes dominant. The precondition for constitutional democracy and governance is responsible politics. The crisis in politics is a crisis in governance. It follows that if we have a government that does not function, nothing will work. Our political party system needs urgent transformation and time is not on our side. 

32. The institutional baggage is onerous and the change we need is limited by what is historically possible. The challenge of politics and leadership is to use what progressive forces we have to pull the country out of this crisis and build an alternative political system with new leadership. 

33. With the foundation that UMNO has in the countryside, towns and cities, it is possible to find new politics if we can find leadership at all levels which can pull the nation together. But that UMNO is the UMNO we lost and can find. It is not a legal question and it has never been. It is a political question regardless of the pretense of law. In my campaign to revive UMNO of 1946, I have explained the political and legal basis. In reality there is a limit to the legal basis for the legitimacy of UMNO, and in the final analysis it is the primacy of politics that gives UMNO legitimacy. 

34. I will be informing the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, the Attorney General, Registrar of Societies and the Election Commission that I have the constitutional right to declare that I am the representative of the parliamentary party of UMNO in the Dewan Rakyat with all the constitutional and legal rights.

Y.B.M. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah


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