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Friday, March 20, 2009

> Mohd. Ali can stop polls

Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam can appeal to the Registrar of Societies to stop the Umno elections, said party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

On Tuesday, the Umno disciplinary committee found Mohd Ali, who is vying for the deputy president's post, guilty of breaching campaigning rules. 

Following this, he was disqualified from contesting but remains a party member and chief minister. 

Commenting on this in his latest blog posting today, Razaleigh said the committee's move may be in contravention of the party constitution and Societies Act 1966.

Razaleigh said the Act allows for members of a registered body to have full rights to vote and hold office in that organisation. 

"The disciplinary committee can remove certain privileges but not rights provided by the (party) constitution. Umno's constitution cannot be interpreted contrary to the Societies Act.

"So long as Mohd Ali remains a member, it is just as wrong to deprive him of his candidacy as to deprive him of his right to vote," he said.

Elaborating further, Razaleigh pointed out that Umno supreme council member Norza Zakaria is still eligible to defend his post despite having been charged in court for the alleged inducement of voters through agents. 

"What holds for Norza holds for Mohd Ali too. Members may not be barred from contesting," he added.
Razaleigh told Malaysiakini that he could not understand why Mohd Ali, who was found guilty of vote-buying, was not suspended from the party.

“I think the disciplinary committee may have overlooked this aspect,” he said.

“A lot of people are raising questions about the fairness of the judgement, why some people were let off while others were brutally penalised,” said the veteran leader. 

“He (Mohd Ali) hasn’t lost his right as a member. After all, he is not suspended as a member… The registrar will then have to exercise his power, unless he is an office boy,” he said. 

Double standards for Umno?

On the probe concerning Mohd Ali, Razaleigh said the disciplinary committee should disclose who received the bribes from the former's agents. 

However, he added that the proper authority to conduct such an investigation would be the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which is an independent body.

"So long as no thorough investigation by an independent agency has been conducted, there remains a real likelihood that the party elections would be tainted by corruption and hence be illegitimate," he said. 

Razaleigh said since the disciplinary committee had compiled evidence of 'money politics' against certain Umno leaders, the onus was on the panel to submit the evidence to the MACC. 

"Money politics is nothing but a euphemism for political bribery and political bribery is a crime covered by the Penal Code. If you know of a crime but do not report it, you become an accomplice to the crime.

"I don't recall Parliament having passed an Act to exempt Umno from the laws of the land. It's not as if there is a misdemeanour of 'money politics' for Umno and 'corrupt practices' for everyone else," he said.

In 1987, Tengku Razaleigh had paved the way for Umno to be declared illegal after he turned to the courts to challenge the election for the president's post in which he was defeated by Dr Mahathir Mohamad by a mere 41 votes.

After the High Court declared Umno to be illegal, Mahathir was forced to re-register the party as Umno Baru - Malaysiakini.