UMNO leaders and members of the UMNO Disciplinary Board can be prosecuted for obstruction of justice if they do not co-operate fully with ACA investigations into cases of UMNO money politics
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s statement yesterday that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) can act in cases of UMNO money politics without having to get prior clearance from UMNO leaders is most timely and re-assuring in restoring flagging public confidence that the new Prime Minister’s pledge for a clean and accountable administration is petering out as mere rhetoric without any hope of delivery.
I am particularly impressed by the Prime Minister’s swift and prompt response yesterday some six hours after my media statement issued from Parliament earlier in the morning calling on him to give a categorical assurance that UMNO will not usurp the powers of ACA or arrogate to itself non-existent prerogatives to first decide what are the UMNO “money politics” cases to be referred to ACA, and to fully and unreservedly welcome ACA to conduct, without any strings attached, untrammelled investigations into all cases of money politics in the September UMNO party elections.
It was urgent and imperative for the Prime Minister to clear the air, as the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had made a baseless claim that it is not automatic that all cases of money politics in UMNO need be referred to the ACA, and that UMNO has the discretion to pick and choose the cases to be investigated by the ACA - which violate both the spirit and letter of the law and constitution of the land.
I am amazed as to why it has taken the ACA Director-General Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor more than two months to discover and recognize that money politics is corruption and a crime under the Anti-Corruption Act 1997, fully falling under the purview of the ACA.
Brendan Pereira in Plain Talk in New Sunday Times (28.11.04) had written:
“Should it be the sole prerogative of the party’s disciplinary board or should the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) be brought in to clean up the house?
“It’s a no- brainer. The ACA has to be called in to investigate party members found guilty of money politics. This course of action is prescribed by the law.”
Kadir Jasin in Other Thots in Malaysian Business Nov. 16-30, 2004 wrote:
“May be the disciplinary committee is no longer the appropriate body to act on the allegations. Some members have all along been questioning the locus standi of the committee.
“They feel that since the definition of money politics falls within the realm of corruption, these allegations are better handled by the Anti-Corruption Agency.”
However, it is better late than never for the ACA to recognize the nature of corruption, and with the public statement by the Prime Minister yesterday opening the door for the ACA to investigate into cases of money politics in UMNO without having to get prior approval or clearance from the UMNO leadership, the ball is directly in the court of the ACA.
The ACA cannot as in the past two months pretended or pleaded that the “political power reality” was such that it could not in practice carry out its duties to fight corruption under the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 with regard to the “money politics” cases in the September UMNO General Assembly elections and the earlier UMNO division and branch elections.
In view of the big number of cases of UMNO “money politics”, running into tens and even hundreds of millions of ringgit, and involving important personalities whether Minister, Deputy Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, Mentri Besar, State Exco, Member of Parliament or State Assembly member, Zulkipli should set up a special high-powered task force to deal with the UMNO “money politics” cases, as it will be the first big test of the credibility, professionalism and integrity of the ACA in the Abdullah era.
In the run-up to the September UMNO Vice President and Supreme Council elections, a veteran journalist posted an article on the Internet, which was a Who’s Who of UMNO money politics, naming names including Minister, Deputy Minister, Mentri Besar, with the amounts each was offering for the votes of UMNO delegates in the UMNO Supreme Council election – those who offered RM1,000, RM500, RM300 and lowest of all RM150 per delegate in exchange for his or her vote.
Two candidates for the vice-presidency who stuck “to their principle of not paying for their vote” were named, former cabinet minister and now MP from Johore, Dato' Shahrir Samad, and the minister with special functions, Dato' Mustapa Mohamed, both of whom lost in the UMNO Vice President election.
This posting should be thoroughly investigated by the ACA. I checked this morning and this article is still available on the Internet, and if the ACA officers needs help, I am prepared to advise them of its URL.
In fact, all UMNO leaders and in particular the members of the UMNO Disciplinary Board should fully co-operate with the ACA investigations into UMNO money politics by volunteering and turning over to the ACA all relevant information and evidence about money politics, or they will be party to the crime of corruption by refusing to divulge all available information to the ACA.
The Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail should warn UMNO leaders and members of the UMNO Disciplinary Board that they could be prosecuted for obstructing the course of justice if they refuse to fully co-operate with ACA investigations into all cases of money politics in UMNO.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman