: "Take care of our future generations." These were the words often uttered by the late Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Tapa each time the veteran politician met UMNO members and the media, including this writer.
For those who knew this man, synonymous with the dominant Malay political party UMNO, the phrase tells of only one thing – his desire to champion the Malay cause until the end.
Abdul Aziz, who passed away on Oct 4 at the age of 93, in sharing with the media the ups and downs of his political struggle right from the pre-independence days, had always voiced his concern over the fate of the Malays, especially the coming generations.
While the patriot and his peers have contributed to independence, peace and development enjoyed by the people now, in his mind there was always this question; What will be the future of the Malays if they lose their power base? Getting close to the younger generation
Born and buried in Kampung Rim in Jasin, Malacca, Abdul Aziz was a teacher before he entered politics in 1946 by joining Onn Jaafar's Pergerakan Melayu Semenanjung Johor. When UMNO was established the same year, he joined the party and was active in its youth movement.
Abdul Aziz's struggle for the future generations is vouched by one of his protege, Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam, Malacca's former chief minister and former senator.
Mohd Ali during his days with Gerakan Belia 4B youth movement in the 1970s noted that youths have always been close to his heart and the veteran politician did his best in providing them support.
"In those days, seeking donation for the youth movement was quite difficult but Abdul Aziz was ever ready to help. He handed out a RM50 note, a big sum in those days," he said.
Mohd Ali, the former UMNO vice president and the chairman of Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Berhad, recalled the seasoned politician also emphasised on sustaining peace and harmony to enable the coming generations grow up comfortably.
"He also requested us to take care of UMNO as it is the only platform that we have to champion the Malay cause, ensure the position and privileges of the Malays remain," he said.
What Mohd Ali misses most about the UMNO veteran is his quatrains, maxims and poems at UMNO assemblies, that deliver a strong message albeit his soft voice. The Malays and UMNO
Abdul Aziz's second son Mohd Azam, 65, pointed out many might be wondering why Abdul Aziz was still defending the position of Malays and UMNO's supremacy even almost six decades after independence.
"Even a week before he passed away, about 30 former UMNO youth leaders from all over the nation met him at his home to talk on UMNO and the Malays.
"His message to them was that UMNO members and leaders have to remain loyal to the party, this is the only platform where the Malays could leverage for the benefit of the future generations," he said.
In his struggle for the community there was a time when Abdul Aziz had no time for his own family, something that really bothered his children and wife. Nonetheless, in retrospect, the family is proud of his invaluable sacrifices for the party, nation and race. The things that one has to understand
Another leader close to Abdul Aziz is Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik, another former chief minister of Malacca and the chairman of an economic NGO, Gagasan Badan Ekonomi Melayu.
Abdul Rahim is also familiar with Abdul Azis's reminder for the future generations.
Though it may sound mundane, Abdul Aziz's words are highly meaningful for the Malays in seeking their destiny. In a nutshell, what he said was that the Malays have to make themselves strong in ensuring a promising future for the coming generations. Passing the baton to the new generation
The demise of Abdul Aziz is a great loss for the nation. Abdul Aziz had told this writer once that there was no ending for his struggle and his struggle would be inherited by the coming generations.
"Defend UMNO, don't betray the party as it is the only effective political platform for the Malays." These were the words of Abdul Aziz that still reverberates in the ears of this writer.
It is now up to the new generation to continue Abdul Aziz's struggles for the well-being of not only the Malays, but also all Malaysians. -- Fadzli Ramli/Bernama