Malaysia, or Malaya at that point in time, was fortunate that the pioneer leaders of Umno were a group of exemplary visionaries.
They had the fortitude and humility to be inclusive and fair, mindful of the great urgency for all Malaysians of all races to be united as they embarked on building a newly independent nation.
Not unlike the founding fathers of America who laid a strong foundation for the former British colony to thrive, Malaysia might have gone the way of other failed states had these Umno visionaries not forged a strong partnership among all its constituents, regardless of race and religion.
Indeed, it is no small miracle that we have advanced so much since independence. For a small nation made up of such diverse colours and ethnicity, we were the envy of many former colonies and new nation states that failed to replicate our stable, harmonious growth.
However, this golden age of Umno, and along with Malaysia, began to ebb and deteriorate along with the quality of its leaders.
The gentlemanly conduct, open mindset and non-confrontational nature which made up the soul of early Umno, has now been replaced by the hawkish, non-compromising stance of Umno Baru 'leaders'.
These so-called leaders preach moderation, democracy and fairness, essentially the principles upon which their predecessors built this nation, but ignore breaches of these concepts by their members.
A gentlemen's party is now marred by thuggish acts of intimidation and at times, violence.
By condoning mock funerals, meetings disruptions, home invasions, stone throwing, car smashing, Umno is now causing the breakage of the very seams that are holding this nation together, the seams that its founders worked so hard to foster.
A party that has grown so arrogant that it thinks it has the exclusive right to govern Malaysia in perpetuity.
We now have a federal 'democracy' where three million party members have a stronger say in the direction of this country than the 30 million citizens, due to the party's far reaching influence and entrenched positions at all levels of federal government, agencies and institutions.
If the current crop of leaders has its early founders' pedigree and moral standards, Malaysians need not worry too much.
However, with so many scandals, corruption cases and abuses allegedly carried out by its associates seemingly swept under the carpet, it is no wonder there are so much skepticism and defeatism in the air.
From being the saviour of Malaysia, to becoming the architect of its early success, Umno has now become a impediment to its further progress.
True, PM Najib has enacted a host of good economic initiatives and reforms which is far-sighted, but has not responded decisively to stamp his 1Malaysia commitment when the principles are flouted by his party members and his government.
Umno and Malaysia's fate are so closely entwined, that the chains binding them cannot be easily broken without social upheavals and economic costs.
All is not lost however. We can only hope Umno can rediscover its soul, and find within itself the confidence to trust the people of Malaysia and respect their opinions and decisions.
Until that day comes, unfortunately, Malaysia will struggle to reach its true potential, just as Umno struggles to discover its original calling.