In conjunction with the UMNO General Assembly from Dec 8 to 12, Bernama interviewed Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Tapa to delve into the heart of this UMNO veteran who championed the plight of the Malays through the party.
JASIN – One will not miss the residence of Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Tapa in Kampung Jasin, here. This writer was told by a friend that all that one needs to do is look for a house at the roadside with an UMNO flag flying proudly.
Though today’s younger generation might not be proud or keen to fly the ‘Sang Saka Bangsa’ flag, those who knew UMNO from the start have so much respect and take pride in showing their patriotic fervour for the party.
Interviewing 92-year-old bespectacled Abdul Aziz for the first time, this writer found that every word uttered by the man throughout the interview clearly indicated his high esteem for the party.
Throughout the interview, there was sadness on his face in between and teary-eyed moments, especially when he talked about the younger generation Malays now who were indifferent to Umno’s struggles and the party’s contribution for the Malays.
Abdul Aziz emphasized his struggles were not based on material rewards or money, instead his intention was solely to ensure UMNO remained the champion of the Malays, now and forever.
UMNO THEN AND NOW
As he began talking, Abdul Aziz steered the conversation towards the difference between UMNO during his time and now especially in terms of struggles and responsibility.
He said UMNO had been full of enthusiasm when it was formed in 1946. At the time, the party was led by Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar who wanted the country to be free from colonialisation.
It was a time when Malays wanted to unite under one umbrella to fight the Malayan Union, which was seen as stripping them of their rights in their own land.
“The struggle could be seen in UMNO then, the party and the people both worked hard together,” he said.
Abdul Aziz began treading in politics the year UMNO was established, joining the Peninsular Malay Movement of Johor (PMSJ) and Third Malay Congress on May 11, 1946.
Abdul Aziz said with the passage of time UMNO evolved from a party that fought for the freedom of the Malays to a party that led the government.
This might be the reason why UMNO’s struggles, which was once seen with admiration is now viewed with disdain. Or it could be that the changing era had forced UMNO to fight in a different way to defend the rights of the Malay people but this is not appreciated by the people.
“When we became the government people started to forget UMNO, the Malays prospered and forgot what this party had done for them,” he expressed sadly.
LOVE FOR UMNO AND THE LEADERS
He recounted that during his time, loyalty to the leader was utmost important in UMNO to ensure the party’s struggle stayed strong.
It was also important that UMNO appointed a leader than could serve people well, he reminded.
Speaking of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the current UMNO President and Prime Minister, Abdul Aziz said the country’s number one leader is receptive to the needs of the Malays and Malaysians.
“Najib is receptive, he takes note of the issues and sensitivities of the Malays. This is most evident because he loves Malay literature like the ‘pantun’ (quatrain) because we Malays use the ‘pantun’ to get to the people’s heart,” he said.
Abdul Aziz liked the image carried by Najib during the ASEAN Summit held in Kuala Lumpur recently as it proved that a Malay could spearhead well a regional initiative such as ASEAN.
“I like Najib’s way. He actually uses the philosophy that comes from his characteristic as a Malay. He likes Malay philosophy, the way he respects leaders from China and India, this is very Malay,” he added.
MALAYS WITHOUT UMNO
When the writer posed the question “what would happen to the Malays if there was no UMNO”, the sensitivity of the matter was clear as Abdul Aziz’s expression changed immediately where he gave a serious look at the writer.
“Without UMNO the Malays will go into oblivion. Where will we share our woes, fight for our rights and the future of our children and grandchildren?
Which party in the country has the word Malay in it? Only UMNO is the forbearer of the Malay psyche.
“Why do we want to hand over our country to political parties that do not care for the Malays? It makes me sad to see that there are Malays now who want to bring UMNO down,” he said.
All of UMNO’s problems, he said, had to be discussed among its members where an amicable solution could be reached. Each leader in UMNO plays an important role in preserving the unity within the party and they have to seek the grassroots feedback.
YOUNG MALAY GENERATION
According to Abdul Aziz, the current Malay generation needs to work together to defend UMNO and make sure the party continues to lead the government in the future.
Today’s generation, he said, have forgotten UMNO’s efforts to provide them with a comfortable life like what they have been enjoying. UMNO has to be maintained to ensure the future generations would enjoy better life.
“Who else can we depend on to defend and champion the welfare of the Malays, only our children. We need to teach them about UMNO’s struggles.
“We need to give them space so they can grow into leaders who will fight for the Malays,” he said.
At the golden age of 92, Abdul Aziz continues to follow UMNO’s developments through the mass media, especially the Utusan Malaysia newspaper that he reads daily.
Though his age does not permit him to fight together with UMNO like he used to, his faith in UMNO will remain strong till the end. – BERNAMA