Dato Onn bin Jaffar is best remembered worked as the founder of UMNO (United Malays National Organization). He was its first president and he worked hard to unite not only the Malays but all the races in the country. He was a key figure in
struggle for independence.
Dato Onn was born in 1895 in Johor Bahru. His father, Dato Jaafar bin Haji Muhammad, was the first Menteri Besar of Johor. From his father, he learnt what loyalty and patriotisme meant.
Dato Jaafar sent his son off to
for his education at the teacher age of seven. It must have been a rather
frightening experience for the young boy at first. However, he obeyed his
father and made up his mind to do his best there. He studied in England for
several years. The experience taught him self-reliance and independence. He
also learnt to face challenges and not to give up when he had problems. England
After spending some years in
he returned to Malaya and continued his
education at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar. He complete his secondary
education there. He then returned to Johor in 1911 to serve the state
government. He began as a trainee clerk in the State Secretary’s Department. He
worked very hard, striving at all times to do his best. In 1926, he was made
the Assistant Revenue Collector for Johor Bahru. This was a job which required
a great deal of responsibility and Dato Onn was proud to given it. He worked
hard at the job but after a while felt the need to do something more. So he
resigned from government service and started work as a writer and reporter in . Singapore
His first job as a writer was for a weekly magazine called the Sunday Mirror. He wrote about the problems the Johor Government was facing and made the Malays aware of what was happening in the government. Later, he was offered the post of editor of the Warta Malaya, a
newspaper. In his writings, Dato Onn attacked the British for neglecting the
Malays. In 1934, he became the editor of the Lembaga Malaya.
In 1936, he returned to Johor and was appointed to the Johor State Assembly. Between 1934-1945, Dato Onn spoke up very strongly in the Johor State Assembly against British rule. During the Second World War, Dato Onn fought against the Japanese who occupied
Malaya. He did not think
of his own safety and often risked his
life to help the kampung people get enough food supply.
After the war, when the Japanese had been driven out of the country, Dato Onn formed UMNO in 1946 to fight against British rule. He tried to get the support and co-operation of all the races to fight for independence. Although when
Malaya gained her independence in 1957, Dato Onn was no
longer the president of UMNO, the nation will always remember the part he had
played in the struggle for her freedom. He will always be honoured as a great
leader and patriot. His death in 1962 was a great loss to the nation.