Ali Rustam (File pic)
PETALING JAYA, 19 March 2009: Veteran Umno politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says ousted deputy presidential candidate Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam should ask the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to stop the party polls next week for being denied his right to contest.
In remarks which appear geared towards preventing the elections from taking place, Tengku Razaleigh said the disciplinary board had contravened the Societies Act by denying Ali his candidacy, which was his right as a party member.
On 17 March, Umno’s disciplinary board found the Malacca Chief Minister guilty of political bribery through the actions of his agents and barred him from contesting the party’s number two post.
However, Ali kept his Umno membership while three of his agents who were found guilty of money politics were suspended for three years.
Tengku Razaleigh noted that the right of a member to contest in a society’s election and the right to vote are both constitutional.
“So long as Ali remains an Umno member, it is wrong to deprive him of his candidacy. The board can remove certain privileges, but not rights provided for under the constitution. Umno’s constitution cannot be interpreted contrary to the Societies Act.
“At the very least, his appeal against his punishment needs to be heard before the party elections commence next week,” Tengku Razaleigh said in a blog posting today.
Tainted polls, illegal polls
The Kelantan prince and former cabinet minister also said the Umno polls next week will be tainted and could be illegal if they proceed.
He said delegates ought to be investigated for accepting bribes from Ali. The disciplinary board should trace the inducements trail to identify delegates who received them and suspend their memberships.
“If not, the tainted votes of those participants will taint the entire party elections. So long as no thorough investigation by an independent agency has been conducted, there remains a real likelihood that the party elections will be tainted by corruption, and hence be illegitimate,” Tengku Razaleigh.
The board’s decision to bar Ali from contesting has been heavily criticised by Umno members and certain party leaders. The widely-held perception is that the board had been selective in its judgements, because while Ali was found guilty of the same offence as Umno Youth chief aspirant Khairy Jamaluddin, the latter was let off with a warning and still allowed to contest the polls.
Tengku Razaleigh said the board’s reason that there was a difference in the severity of the offences committed by Ali’s agents from Khairy’s, made the punishments seem “arbitrary and selective”.
Incumbent Youth chief and vice-presidential candidate Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has said the board ought to investigate all election candidates to show that it was fair.
Report to MACC
The disciplinary board is now duty-bound to report Ali and his agents, as well as others found guilty of money politics, to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
This is because money politics are considered the same as political bribery, which is a crime under the Penal Code. The ROS could also act against Umno for corruption.
“If you know of a crime but do not report it, you become an accomplice to the crime. The disciplinary board is not a replacement for the courts of law. It is not to provide Umno a managed alternative to legal justice,” said Tengku Razaleigh, who twice ran for party president but failed.