Pursuant to Tun Dr Mahathir’s criticisms on the plague of money politics that is corrupting Umno to the core today, I am quite perturbed with the lack of discussions in the blogosphere about its remedy and ways to solve it holistically.
In fact, Tun’s call to highlight the problem was replied with an attempt to castigate the former premier about money politics during his time, coupled with a sidewinded blow that he was only doing the lipservice just to campaign for his son.
What came about from a sincere call to eradicate corruption, had mutated into something unrelated to the issue at hand. If Umno in general regards that earnest effort with contempt, then Umno can never change from its doomed path of existence.
Before we continue on, I would like to state here that corruption, in any form, is very difficult to eliminate. Even the great statesman himself had failed to completely get rid of it. But what we can do is to reduce it. Reducing money politics is what this article strives for.
Money politics arise from two constant factors;
1. Supply and demand
2. Long process cycle
Currently, money politics is a ‘need’ of aspiring candidates to gain votes. It has also become a ‘demand’ from the delegates in order to give out their votes. This supply and demand concept needs to be revamped in order to reduce money politics.
Ever since the quota system was exploited through the offerings of monetary gains in return for votes, this modus operandi is the only way perceived by Umno leaders to realise their ambition.
It has become a culture. A culture so perverted that the current crop of Umno leaders and the rest of ordinary Umno members would scoff at the notion that we could also elect leaders without the use of money or government contracts.
Many did not remember that Umno leaders of bygone eras had been voted to the top positions with nothing more than hard work, great vision, diligence and honesty.
The manifestation of money politics is very destructive to Malaysian political scene. Particularly, it will erode years upon years of success Umno had contributed towards the shaping of this great nation we call Malaysia.
In 1986, a great Umno leader once said;
Umno has been the premier political party in Malaysia. Its success has not been due only to what the party has achieved for itself, but rather to a greater extent to the manifest loyalty of its members. There has never been political manoeuvre, squabble or a struggle to reach the top post, nor has there been a real contest for it…
The take-over of power in such a smooth transition has been the tradition and admirable trait of Umno members in the past, and has won admiration from other political parties. Will it remain the same in years to come? We have seen the tendency now is to fight for position at all levels of Umno echelons, from branch to division, state to National Executive Council, and as evident, there was keen contest for the post of Deputy Prime Minister, but so far the post of Prime Minister has been kept out of the members’ power struggle.
Umno has enjoyed the confidence of the Malays and others. All these years of independence it has guided the nation towards national progress and political peace. As the senior partner of Barisan Nasional, it thoroughly deserves the praises that have been showered upon it…
Together with its partners, the MCA and MIC, they fought and won independence for Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah, and together they formed Malaysia. They have had to face communist insurrection, Indonesian confrontation, the Philippines’ claim to Sabah, and other problems from which they have emerged with flying colours… and with it, a promise to continue to play its role for as long as it lives for the good of Malaysia and her people.
With such confidence in their own strength, it does seem that Umno will live for a very long time.
While we recognise and admire it, and shower upon it praises, the present members of the party know a little of what it has gone through, and less still of its record of service to the country. They accept the party’s success as a matter of course. But what the old members – men, women and youth of the time – had to go through is something they care little to remember. The sacrifices the old members made, the courage they showed in the fight against colonial power, the communist terrorists, Soekarno’s confrontation, and the enemy’s subversive activities from within went by unsung…
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, ‘Political Awakening’
If the present members of Umno cannot grasp the severity of their actions when immersing themselves in money politics, then they all are disappointing the late Tunku vis-a-vis his hopeful thoughts above.
Money politics will erode Umno’s great accomplishments in Malaysian history. And along with it, the historic values of the Alliance and Barisan Nasional to Malaysia.
If many do not want to listen to Tun’s call, then heed the words of the late Tunku.
I therefore humbly suggest the following;
1. The quota system needs to be tweaked a little bit. In all positions, the number of nominations that need to be obtained may remain the same. However, once a leading candidate has achieved the required quota, the immediate candidate that has the second highest number (regardless how many nominations he has at that time) qualifies automatically to contest.
The third and a subsequent number of candidates can only qualify to contest if he has reached at least, say 80% nominations of the second candidate.
This will lessen the need to dish out money as the element of ‘supply’ is greatly reduced through the early qualification of candidates to contest. Long process cycle permits more opportunity for money to change hands.
Since there is a greater chance of more candidates to contest in a position, a limit has to be imposed in those positions. I suggest for the post of Presidency, only 2 candidates may vie for it.
For Deputy Presidency, Heads of Umno Youth and Wanita, only 3 candidates can contest. Vice Presidency, a quota of 9 while the deputy posts of Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri Head are to be limited to 4 candidates only.
Other minor positions can be determined later on if this suggestion be accepted.
As shown above, the element of time has been advertently introduced to mitigate the sudden rush of overzealous but unqualified candidates. This means, no more candidates are eligible to contest if the quota of each position has been fulfilled.
Notwithstanding the fact that some of the qualified candidates did not even reach the required nominations of a particular post. As long as he has reached 80% (a tentative figure) of the number of nominations of the second highest candidate, he is eligible to contest.
In essence, the original quota system is only there as a trigger to stop further active vote buying within Umno hence, aspiring candidates may no longer distribute bags of money to the remaining divisions which have not yet hold their meetings.
Again, the cutting short of this process cycle can never be more significant and obvious.
2) Once the nominations has been tallied, the Umno AGM itself should be held within 2 weeks after the last division had completed its meeting. Any longer will open the floodgates to more money politics. That said, the election process in the AGM should be opened to all Umno members. Therefore, Umno acquired several benefits out of this;
a) only qualified and serious candidates can be nominated
b) the supply of monetary benefits is greatly reduced
c) since the number of delegates that can vote has increased, the 3 million voters will then vote for credible candidates instead of those with heavy moneybags.
In time, Umno members will vote for leadership, rather than politicians. The Umno leaders will then have to fare better in the thinking department as well as work ethics.
Of course, the solutions above may not comprehensively reduce money politics within Umno. A more holistic approach is needed which will encompass elements beyond Umno’s general elections. For me, the best way to curb corruption is to alleviate the economic status of the Umno members. Malaysia needs to think of ways to progress economically so that one of the disease in backbone party of the Barisan Nasional will be reduced.
Remember – “Parti Bersih, Kerajaan Bersih”.
Another way is to look at revamping Umno from within. Umno must start fixing the rot that is eating away Umno’s strength. We all know that Umno had strayed from its original struggle of yesteryears. Several initiatives need to be taken immediately by the leadership if they ever want to be relevant to Malaysians;
1) Stop the progress of corruption within Umno
– The responsibility now falls to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to reprimand the corrupt leaders within Umno. The Umno disciplinary board needs to be strengthened in order to effectively purge the decaying elements out of Umno. But why should we stop at the board? The ACA, and the PAC for instance should also be enhanced in order to chastise any abuse of power or any shady deals involving politicians in the current and past administration of the Government.
2) Recapitalise Umno’s leadership
– The culture of stifling able leaders must be eliminated. Umno must open its membership to professionals and also train and motivate the present Umno members to have their aspirations in line with the aspirations of Malays and Malaysians. Any ‘expectations gaps’ among the several levels of Umno members and across the spectrum need to be managed so that it will be in tuned with the ultimate aim of Umno. And what is the ultimate aim of Umno? To be relevant to all Malays; whereby the Malays’ aspirations are also Umno’s aspirations. This should be in line with Umno’s motto of – Demi Agama, Bangsa dan Negara.
3) Introduce an anti corruption mechanism that is effective
– As stated earlier, the disciplinary board needs to be strengthened in order to provide an effective check and balance within Umno. The proposed Council of Elders is also a good monitoring body to render more efficient ways of highlighting corruption in Umno. The Council of Elders will be the independent body consists of veteran Umno leaders which are empowered to monitor any abuse of power by the Umno leaders. However, the scope of its powers need to be predetermined so it will not impinge on the normal day to day administration of Umno.
4) Restore confidence through good leadership
– Umno must remember that they no longer can view their political foothold narrowly. They need to have a broader outlook on Malaysian politics like before. Umno leadership as a whole must encompass all Malaysians. Bad and failed decisions have to be effectively addressed. This is one of the main criterion if confidence in Umno’s leadership is to be restored. Bad leaders produce bad decisions. It is a simple matter of physics. Replace them through the 1st and 2nd initiatives above.
5) Induce an effective multilateral relationship between the parties in Barisan Nasional
– Racial polarisation is becoming more and more endemic. Although I would stop short in claiming that racial polarisation has already gained prominence (racial polarisation do not exist merely because races in Malaysia CAN live with each other in harmony), the lack of willpower by the leaders of Umno in stemming the rise of extremism and racism by the liberal sections of the society may well be the death knell of Malaysian peace and harmony. Datuk Najib have to impose a strong leadership style that can bring the house in order. The house – Barisan Nasional, need to be strong so that the destructive elements will be held under sway. Hence, Malaysia will be stable and can be resilient enough to face local and global challenges in the future.
For further reading on this, please click to the following links;
1) SatD Thinks
4) Bakri Musa
As this is a discussion on how to provide ways to lessen corruption within Umno, please do not hesitate to suggest feasible and viable solution. Links on relevant sites are also welcomed.