Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Umno veteran still loyal even after 65 years

Umno veteran was a contemporary of Datuk Onn Jaafar

IT was a bittersweet moment for an 87-year-old Umno veteran when he gazed at a large photograph of himself during the momentous gathering which gave birth to the party.

Harun Awang was only a young man of 22 when he joined Umno. He was a contemporary of the party's founder, Datuk Onn Jaafar.

Harun was also among hundreds of its members who posed for a photograph on the steps of Istana Besar in Johor Baru on May 11, 1946. That was the day the party was formed during the third Malay Congress.

The retired prisons department officer from Taman Dato Onn, Johor Baru, was pleasantly surprised to see a blown-up version of the historic photograph displayed near the entrance to Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre.

"Even my father, Datuk Awang Omar, is in the photograph. It brings back many memories and tears."

However, none of his counterparts in the photograph are still alive, and Harun often thinks about his fellow party members who have died.

"I am glad the party has grown by leaps and bounds, and my loyalty remains with Umno as I have been a member since its inception.

Harun,  a grandfather of seven, praised the party's current leadership under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and urged members to avoid infighting and unite, no matter what.

Datuk Seri Mohamed Abid, who accompanied Harun to Putra World Trade Centre, said it took a lot of convincing to get his friend to attend the general assembly.

"Umno's executive secretary, Datuk Abd Rauf Yusoh invited him to attend the event, but he refused at first. He only relented when he was persuaded by his family.

"He told me he is not a VIP (very important person), so he did not want to come.

"I think he is more of a VLP, or very loyal person," said Mohamed, an author who wrote Reflections of the Pre-Independent Malaya, eight years ago.