KUALA LUMPUR, 17 March 2009: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam will remain as the Malacca chief minister.
He said Ali was only prohibited from contesting in the upcoming Umno elections.
“This is the decision of the Umno disciplinary board. We should respect the decision.
“I believe that Mohd Ali, as a loyal member of Umno, will accept the decision with an open heart and that he will continue to contribute to the party’s struggle,” he told reporters.
Najib was asked to comment on the disciplinary board’s decision to prohibit Ali from contesting in next week’s party polls.
The board made the decision after finding Ali – a candidate for the Umno deputy president’s post – guilty of violating party ethics for indulging in money politics.
Earlier, Najib opened a conference on integrity and competitiveness at the National Integrity Institute here.
Najib said whatever the board’s decision, it should be respected as the panel was only working towards safeguarding the party’s good name.
The disciplinary board, he said, was an independent body. “There is no interference in the works of the Umno disciplinary board. It can decide on its own based on what it deems to be appropriate to safeguard its integrity.”
To a question on moral issue arising from the incident, Najib said, “We should look at the circumstances.”
“Sometimes, we are not the source of our problems. Sometimes our supporters are over-enthusiastic, resulting in us facing all sorts of accusations,” he said.
Najib was also asked why the punishment meted out to Ali was different from the action taken against former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Isa Samad.
To this question, Najib said, “That is the decision of the disciplinary board.”
Isa was suspended for six years from 24 June 2005 after he was found guilty by the Umno disciplinary board of five out of nine counts of money politics in the September 2004 party elections.
Isa, who received the highest number of votes for the vice-president’s post, was also suspended from all party posts, including as Teluk Kemang division chief.
He appealed against the decision, resulting in his suspension period being reduced to three years.
On the possibility of Ali’s supporters protesting against the decision, Najib said, “I think as the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You have to decide.”
He said: “We want Umno to be seen as a clean party… we realise that there is some risk attach to it; but the bigger risk is, if Umno is rejected by the people.
“We cannot afford that, everyone has to sacrifice for the interest of the party,” he added. — Bernama