While the ‘spirit of Merdeka’ is still lingering around, it would be good for the younger generation to be exposed to a small piece of history, about the history of the formation of Parti Islam Se-Malaya(Se-Malaya literally means Satu Malaya, or ‘for the whole of Malaya).
Not many, even among PAS hardcore supporters and leaders, are aware that PAS was indirectly formed by UMNO. All because successive PAS leaders would not want their members to feel obliged to pay back anything to UMNO, and on top of that, they would not want their members to have any fraternity feelings towards UMNO.
Most Malaysians are aware that United Malays National Organisation(UMNO) was formed in 1946, with Datuk Onn Jaafar(the grandfather of DS Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, our present Menteri Dalam Negeri) as its first President. UMNO was set up to provide political vehicle to unite the Malays in their bitter opposition to the imposition of MALAYAN UNION government by the British after the Japanese surrender in 1945. The opposition by the united Malays forced the British to rescind the Malayan Union, and replaced by the PERSEKUTUAN TANAH MELAYU in 1948. In the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu agreement brokered by the British, UMNO and Raja-Raja Melayu, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu was established as a TRANSITION GOVERMENT, to prepare the Federation for full independence.
As part of his efforts to mobilise the support of the whole Malayan population on the road for full independence, Datuk Onn Jaafar decided to create a platform within UMNO, to accomodate Islamic religious scholars, more popularly known as ‘ustaz’, to join the bandwagon of UMNO. An UMNO religious sub-committee was set up in 1950 for the purpose and was called PERSATUAN ISLAM SE-MALAYSIA, in short PAS. The religious sub-committee was headed by an Islamic scholar who was very close to Datuk Onn Jaafar, Hj Mohd. Fuad.
A year later, Datuk Onn Jaafar was persuaded by the British officials to consider opening up UMNO membership to the non-Malays. At that point in time, the non-Malays who were citizens of the country was less than 10% of the whole population, and they were mainly those who became British subjects in the straits settlements of Malacca and Penang, and were considered as ‘automatic’ citizens of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. To the British, and possibly Datuk Onn Jaafar too, even if they were allowed to be members of UMNO, their small number would not affect the leadership of the Malays in UMNO. However, the fact was, by that time, the total number of Chinese and Indian IMMIGRANT WORKERS had already overwhelmed the number of local Malays.
Datuk Onn’s idea of opening up the membership of UMNO to non-Malays was met with OVERWHELMING OPPOSITION by the rank-and-file of UMNO, the same people who had been cherishing his leadership, both in uniting the Malays and in confronting/negotiating with the British. Being a gentleman as he had always been, Datuk Onn decided not to re-contest for the Presidency of UMNO when his tenure expired in 1951, instead declared his intention to set up a new multi-racial party, the Independence Malaya Party(IMP).
After Datuk Onn Jaafar officially launched the new IMP, Hj Mohd Fuad, out of his support for Datuk Onn Jaafar, decided to pull out the UMNO religious sub-committee under his wing, and set up a new party called Parti Islam se-Malaya(PAS), and declared it to be ‘friendly’ to Datuk Onn’s newly formed IMP. That’s how PAS was formed….to support Datuk Onn Jaafar.