by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 20th June 1994:
Unless the Government introduces legislation in Parliament next month to curb politics of money in general elections, UMNO’s constitutional amendment is not very relevant in fighting the cancer of corruption in the country
Unless the Government introduces legislation in Parliament next month to curb politics of money in general elections, UMNO’s constitutional amendment adopted by its extraordinary general assembly yesterday would not be very relevant in fighting the cancer of corruption in the country.
If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, is serious in wanting to curb money politics, abuses of power and corruption, then he should invite all political parties represented in Parliament to propose a common legislation next month to make the next general elections clean, honest, fair and free.
Furthermore, Parliament next month should also elevate the Anti-Corruption Agency from a department under the Prime Minister’s Office into an autonomous Anti-Corruption Commission answerable only to Parliament, as well as strengthen the anti-corruption laws in the country.
It does not speak well for the government’s anti-corruption fight that the post of ACA Director-General has been left vacant for more than a month since the retirement of Tan Sri Zulkifli Mahmood. At present, the ACA is only allowed to go after the ‘ikan bilis’ but not allowed to proceed against the political ‘sharks’.
The UMNO constitution amendment against money politics is a step in the right direction, as the ‘disease’ of money politics is most rife in UMNO.
As the Kelantan UMNO representative who spoke in the UMNO special general assembly yesterday had admitted, he took home between RM2,000 to RM5,000 after the last party general assembly – not to mention other gifts like perfume, watches, calculators, pens, dinners, overseas trips, etc.
The Perak UMNO representative revealed that a division head spent RM1 million to defend his position in last year’s UMNO party elections, and money politics was so rife that he even saw a delegate from his division using a RM1,000 note to fan himself!
However, there is widespread skepticism, not only in UMNO but also among the people, that the UMNO constitution amendment would be able to eliminate corruption and abuses of power among UMNO leaders – when everybody can see the immunity of important UMNO leaders who have amassed excessive wealth completely disproportionate to their known sources of income.
When these UMNO leaders whose integrity have to be established become themselves the advocates against ‘money polities’ , public doubt about the efficacy of the UMNO constitution amendment to curb money politics has further increased.
Mahathir was trying to distract public attention from UMNO’s ‘disease’ of money politics when he challenged opposition parties to emulate UMNO and amend their party constitutions to curb money politics.
Mahathir should first challenge the component parties in Barisan Nasional to do likewise, for these would be the political parties who are also afflicted by the ‘disease’ of money politics.
DAP has no problem with ‘money polities’ and I could have responded to Mahathir’s challenge by declaring that there is no such need for the DAP to emulate UMNO’s constitutional amendment as the DAP does not have the UMNO ‘disease’ of money politics.
However, I personally think that the amendment adopted by UMNO against money politics is a good one – although I have grave doubts that by itself, it could wipe out the culture of money politics in UMNO.
For this reason, I propose raising Mahathir’s challenge at the next DAP Central Executive Committee meeting next month, with my recommendation that although the DAP does not suffer from the UMNO ‘disease’ of money politics, the DAP constitution be amended to specifically prohibit money politics.
I am prepared to support any action which could raise the ethics and morality of politics, political leaders and political parties in the country.