The proposal for Malayan unification was good: it was indeed the genesis of the Federation of Malaya. But the Malayan Union plan went much further than that. Its architects proposed to introduce a common citizenship, which was premature, to say the least: the special position of the Malays, protected for so many years by tradition and treaty, would have been swept away; the autonomy of the individual States would have disappeared; and the position of the Malay Rulers would have been reduced to a merely religious status.
The whole Malay people, from north to south and east to west, rose in protest, in the first united political movement of their history, under the leadership of Dato Onn bin Ja'affar, then Mentri Besar (Chief Minister) the state of Johor. That was how the United Malays National Organisation - the Malay nationalist party known ever since as UMNO - began. The blunder was quickly realised and corrected. The controversial features of the Malayan Union were shelved at once, and a working party was set up to work to hammer out a new plan in the light of the Malay nationalist objections.