BATU PAHAT, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Sunday led a procession of more than 20,000 Umno members who had gathered here to commemorate an anti-Malayan Union rally spearheaded by Umno founder Datuk Onn Jaafar, 60 years ago.
Abdullah led 6,000 Umno members in their traditional Baju Melayu in the one kilometre procession, starting from the Batu Pahat Umno office and passing through Dewan Jubli Intan to the Batu Pahat Stadium, to recapture the atmosphere of the historic day, Feb 10 1946.
Upon arrival, they were received by 14,000 members who chanted "Hidup Melayu!" (Long Live the Malays).
In 1946, the Peninsular Malay Movement, Johor branch (PMSJ) held a procession and massive rally attended by some 15,000 Malays in a show of protest against the establishment of the Malayan Union which disregarded the interests of the Malay Rulers as well as the Malays.
Besides Abdullah, other Umno leaders who were present included Umno Youth Chief, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also Education Minister and a grandson of Onn.
Minister of Information Datuk Zainuddin Maidin, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also Umno Vice President, Minister of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Azalina Othman and Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Osman were also present.
A pledge on Sumpah Melayu (Malay vows) was also read out by Yusof Salleh, the son of former Malay nationalist known as Kiyai Salleh, who read the same pledge in 1946.
Among others, the pledge calls for a promise to be united, obedience to Islam and to always defend Malay interests and sovereignty.
Another former nationalist Abdullah Mohd Nor recited a patriotic poem titled Batu Pahat Tanah Keramat - Bumi Bertuah (Batu Pahat the Sacred Land --a Lucky Soil) at the event.
The Prime Minister also presented a special award to 19 people who had joined Onn in the protest against the Malayan Union.
Among the recipients of the special award were the co-founder of PMSJ Fatimah Yakup, Vice President of the first PMSJ Datuk Syed Esa Alwee, Batu Pahat Umno permanent chairman Mohd Diah Abdul Rahman and state assemblyman for Tanjung Sembrong and Batu Pahat Dalam Datuk Mohd Noor Jumaat.
The event themed 'Datuk Onn Jaafar - Pengasas Sebuah Negara Bangsa' was broadcast live over RTM1.
Today's gathering, which is part of a programme to give due recognition to Onn's struggles, is organised by the Johor Umno Liaison Committee and the Johor Heritage Foundation.