It is not a surprise when Datin Seri Jeanne (Danker) Abdullah was accepted as an UMNO member in the Kepala Batas division, Penang, headed by her "charming" husband-cum-Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad.
Some people are asking when did Jeanne, a Eurasian, "converted to be a Malay " thus qualified to be a card-carrying member of UMNO, the biggest Malay political party heading the grand coalition government known as Barisan Nasional or National Front?
As I said it is no surprise if, firstly, one looks at the definition of "Malay" in the Federal Constitution, and secondly she is the wife of the Prime Minister who is also UMNO President, and thirdly thousands of Indian Muslims, Arabs, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Siamese, among others, have been accepted as UMNO members. Not forgetting the Bumiputeras of Sabah who are not Muslims.
Once upon a time in Penang, several UMNO branches in the Tanjong Division conducted their meetings in Tamil, their division leader then was a Tamil Muslim and most of the branches in the city were headed by Tamil Muslims. UMNO recognised them as "Malays" although they did not speak Malay at home or conform to Malay custom.
Article 161 of the Federal Constitution defines a Malay as "a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay custom". On top of that, the persons or their parents have to be born or domiciled in Malaya or Singapore before Merdeka Day (31 August 1957).
The UMNO constitution or Perlembagaan UMNO stated that any citizen of Malaysia belonging to the Malay race or Bumiputera aged 18 and above can be accepted as an ordinary member of the party.
Fasal 4.2 Ahli Biasa ialah Warganegara Malaysia yang berbangsa Melayu atau Bumiputera yang berusia 18 tahun ke atas.
The key words are "yang berbangsa Melayu" or a Malay (by race) or Bumiputera (sons of the soil). A Bumiputera is not necessarily a Muslim. Not all Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak, for example, and the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia are Muslims. They are free to join UMNO.
UMNO is not, in reality, a Malay political party. It is a Bumiputera political party and not all Bumiputeras are Muslims.
The party's war-cary of "Hidup Melayu" should be change to "Hidup Bumiputera".