Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Money Politics ≠ Corruption ?!?

Recently, the nation (especially among the political circles) have been talking about the crackdown on corruption in UMNO, the largest political party in Malaysia. With the six year suspension of Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad (who won the Umno vice-presidency with the highest number of votes) confirmed by the party's disciplinary board today for abuse of power and money politics, UMNO is trying to project an image that it will not tolerate its members indulging in money politics and will not be afraid to punish those involved in such activities, even those from the higher echelons (Isa being considered No. 3 in the party after the president and deputy president). The PM has even called on the Federal Territories Minister to resign from all his party positions after this debacle. Many have concluded that the suspension reaffirms UMNO's commitment in fighting graft and the party may even have passed a critical milestone. However, there are still concerns that the fast nature of the punishment being metted out was hastily done although the disciplinary board has stated that investigations began eight months ago and both sides of the story was taken into consideration before the length of the suspension was decided. His political secretary (who is suspended for three years in connection to this case) claims Isa was unfairly treated and the charges were not proven and contained many loopholes. Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran in the party, claims the crackdown on money politics by the UMNO disciplinary board is ineffective and will not resolve the problem. He also questioned the rationale of taking action against Isa only while other 'big fishes' continue to swim freely. He claims the majority of members will still see the board's action as selective prosecution and Isa is the unfortunate sacrificial lamb in the party's pursuit to clean-up money politics. He has however proposed direct elections to curb money politics in the party.

What really bugs me regarding this issue is that money politics doesn't seem to mean corruption the way it has been played out. Why only suspension from the party? Why not just hand it over to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to handle in the first place? If the party is really serious in curbing money politics which in my book is corruption (no two ways about it), ACA should have been brought in too. Although the ACA claims that they will investigate any UMNO leader found to have been involved in money politics, even without an official report from the party, what are they waiting for and are we to seriously believe it will ever happen? Isa is planning to appeal against the suspension but frankly speaking, if you are really innocent, just challenge them to charge you in the court of law, why hide under the protective cloak of UMNO? Unless you are truly guilty, no? Stand up and say money politics is corruption...only then will we truly be in the same class as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Money Politics = Corruption !!!

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