Cheap Talks to End Money Politics
It was a noble statement by the Deputy Prime Minister. But no Malaysian would believe that he was serious. Money is the magical portion to high offices in BN-party elections. Without it, nothing moves.
The NST Online (25/11/2008) reported Deputy PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak as saying that money politics in UMNO cannot be eradicated overnight but the party will come up with measures to “stop the menace”.
It was honest of Najib to admit that there is money politics in UMNO. That credit must be given to him. When I said in the Dewan Undangan Negeri of Sarawak last year that there were money politics in the BN, the Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, stood to challenge me. Prove it, he yelled.
Malaysians ought to wonder whether Najib is prepared to admit that money politics is rampant in UMNO or in BN in general?Najib said it well that vote-buying in UMNO had to be fought with commitment and political will. But similar statements had been made by his predecessors. It costs nothing to recycle the same statements. For your ears only.
The truth of the matter is that UMNO is the most corrupt institution because of the power-play of money politics.
Now that Najib has spoken out against money politics and vote buying, has he the commitment and political will to stop it? Will he walk the talk, as Abdullah had put it? Malaysians will give a negative indictment.
Is Najib prepared to disclose how many UMNO leaders would be elected to high offices if they had conducted a clean Party election at the divisional levels? Without being in high Party posts, they cannot even become candidates in elections. Simply put, without money politics, many of them cannot even become Ministers.
The former PM, Mahathir, had criticized that Najib would find it difficult to stop money politics in UMNO when the latter became Prime Minister. It is the case of a kettle calling the pot black. Has Mahathir succeeded in reducing, not to say, eradicating money politics in UMNO/BN? Or, in the first place, had he the commitment?
Najib was beating around the bush in saying that the fight against money politics must be comprehensive and it is a process that will involve time. A school child will know that. Does it have to be a future PM to tell us that?
UMNO is facing a Party election in March 2009. So much money had been splashed around that it is hard not to be worried, even within the UMNO circles. The Disciplinary Board that was established in UMNO in 2000 had its hands full. It was simply ineffective to curb the rampant corrupt practices. The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) also has become involved, but the candidates would not care two hoots about that. Not many will get caught.
Najib seems quick to acknowledge the failed promises of money politics in the past and said, "We have to find new ways to reduce money politics in the party. We cannot allow this disease to spread as it would have negative implications on the Party."
He declined to elaborate on the measures. He better not elaborate. He has no answer.
Money politics is not confined to UMNO, of course. PBB President Taib Mahmud challenged me when I spoke about money politics in the Dewan Undangan Negeri of Sarawak. Does that mean that PBB is squeaky clean?
The Party in the Sarawak BN which will face Party election this year is the SUPP. From even the divisional levels, money politics is rampant. To start with, many candidates vying for top posts at the divisional levels had to pay annual subscription fees of the members. This is in order that these members could vote. Then, members were chauffeured to the voting centres. Accommodation and meals have to be arranged. On top of that, some “belanjar” has to be paid.
During one of those branch elections in Sibu, I observed that more than 2/3 of those members present to vote were Ibans. They were very happy to come from the kampong to vote, according to a menu! The Iban are so naive that they can easily be bought over by a plate of Ko Lok Mee! Would anyone from the incumbent and challenger groups deny this?
Delegates will assemble in Kuching next month. That assembly will not come cheap. Both the incumbent and challenger groups have to splash some magic portion in order to secure votes.
Recently I had a frank talk with some of the SUPP leaders who have booked their tickets to Kuching as delegates. I was told that the show of strength will not come cheap, even to the tune of millions. Their conclusion remains that money politics is so much in the blood of the BN that without the “$”, many of those delegates simply won't move.