Malay Press: Don't ever use money, warns Umno disciplinary board

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Last Updated: 1:15pm, Oct 07, 2013

PETALING JAYA (Oct 7): Money politics will not be tolerated during the campaigning period of the Umno elections, party Disciplinary Board acting chairman Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said. The board has allowed candidates vying for positions in the party to openly campaign in the lead up to the party elections as long as it does not go overboard or to the extreme. However, Megat Najmuddin strongly reminded candidates not to use money to get ahead of the game. “Do not ever use money… don’t, don’t. That will receive heavy attention from the disciplinary board,” he was quoted saying by Utusan Malaysia today. “Do not go overboard or extreme. No dinners. If it is held, that means only the rich can contest. We do not want to waste money because rakyat is scrutinising our actions,” he added. Megat Najmuddin was commenting on criticism leveled against the party from two Umno leaders who lamented that the tight rules and conditions placed by the board on candidates contesting for division and central party posts were unreasonable. Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin had said the strict rules caused an uneven playing field and only favour one side. Umno Johor Bahru division head and Johor Bahru MP Tan Sri Shahir Abd. Samad had said the board’s actions were restrictive and immature, as candidates have to campaign in order to present themselves to delegates. Megat Najmuddin reiterated that as a big family, all 3.4 million Umno members, especially more than 30,000 candidates as well as 146,500 delegates who will be voting, have to understand that poor behaviour will only cost the party. “Political perception is important. The actions and statements of Umno members and leaders will be scrutinised by the people. It is not easy to earn the trust of the people. That is the rationale (behind Umno's code of ethics),” he said. He assured that the board will fairly investigate all allegations or complaints of any candidate’s misbehaviour during the party elections. “We have a body of investigators who are former police officers, military spies and from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC),” he said. “The complaints must be backed by solid evidence and convincing witnesses. We do not want to arbitrarily reprimand someone,” he added. Kedah Umno Liaison chairman Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is vying for one of the three vice-presidents post, said he supports the call for a relaxation to the rules and guidelines of party elections to allow open campaigning as all candidates have their own vision that they wish to elucidate to the grassroots. “I think it is really necessary, because I understand the reason behind such strict rules is to protect the image of the party and avoid money politics. “Delegates and candidates should be allowed to meet and share the struggles and benefits that they wish to bring to the party, on condition that the party state liaison body should be made aware of the matter so that they can send monitors to ensure clean campaigning,” he added. Religious representation within the upper ranks of Umno a boon for party Meanwhile, Berita Harian reported today that religious scholars or ulamas should be allowed within the ranks of party leadership to dispel the opposition’s claim that Umno is not Islamic and also to address issues pertaining to the religion. Former Malaysian Ulama Youth Secretariat chairman Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya said the religious group should be given room in the Umno leadership because not only does it dispel the opposition’s claims, but also refines the party’s constitution by placing Islam as the basis of its struggle. Fathul Bari, who is also Umno Youth executive member, said the party is always open to giving religious scholars the space to contribute to the development of the nation and this should be extended to include the ranks of the party. “I hope the religious group can be given space within the administration of the party to balance whatever decision reached by the party from an Islamic perspective,” he was quoted saying. “It would be a loss if we did not give that space because the leadership of the party, helmed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, always underscores the concept of wasatiyah or balance," he added. However, he said  if the religious group is not within the ranks of the party’s administration, it does not mean the Islamic struggle cannot be pursued as it would be done outside the party. "However, it (party’s struggle) would be refined with the inclusion of ulamas or ustaz in the party’s administration,” Fathul Bari said. Umno elections not a beauty queen contest Sinar Harian reported today that Umno Youth Khairy Jamaluddin has reminded delegates that the party election is not a beauty queen contest seeking popularity. He said delegates should be smart to select a candidate based on capability to lead the party, not based on lust. “This is not a beauty queen contest or an attempt to seek popularity. Instead, choose leaders who can lead the party towards the 14th general election. “We have to select leaders who are responsible in the positions and have a good track record of achieving goals in the party. Of course we want to see a change in the party, but the change must be backed by the confidence that those we choose can bring about change,” he added. He said any candidate can make promises but its fulfilment will be ultimately based on their track record.

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