Malacca chief knocked out

Posted by Penarik Beca Thursday, March 19, 2009

Front runner for Umno No. 2 post is banned from contest, blamed for 'money politics'


Singapore Straits Times (18/3/09): Malaysia's dominant Umno party was rocked yesterday when Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam was banned from contesting next week's party elections (Photo: Datuk Seri Ali (left), widely considered the front runner for the deputy presidency, was held liable for vote-buying carried out by his political secretary and two other campaign agents).

This is the first time that Umno has banned such a high-ranking candidate for violating party election rules.

Datuk Seri Ali, widely considered the front runner for the deputy presidency, was held liable for vote-buying carried out by his political secretary and two other campaign agents.

He declined to comment yesterday, saying he had yet to receive formal notice of the decision but would issue a statement today.

The action comes amid efforts by Umno to rid itself of the taint of corruption, which cost it dearly in the last general election.

But it is an uphill struggle. Thousands of ringgit are believed to have been spent to buy the votes of delegates ahead of the party election.

Just last week, Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said's office was raided by anti-corruption officials after her political secretary was reportedly found with RM70,000 (S$29,200) believed to be linked to vote-buying.

The action against Mr Ali risks more splits in a party already riven by internal squabbling.

Deputy Premier Najib Razak made clear yesterday where he stood. 'As they say, you can't have your cake and eat it. You have to decide, do you want Umno to be seen as a clean party? Umno must be seen as a clean party and it cannot afford to be rejected by the people,' he said.

The party deputy president by convention also becomes Malaysia's deputy prime minister. With Mr Ali out of the picture, that leaves Minister of International Trade and Industry Muhyiddin Yassin and Rural and Regional Development Minister Muhammad Muhammad Taib in the running.


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