Mar 19, 2009

Najib : Ali Rustam is not a scapegoat

Prime Minister-to-be Najib Abdul Razak today took pains to deny there was any selective persecution of Umno deputy president hopeful Mohd Ali Rustam, who reportedly has the backing of the outgoing premier.

He stressed that Mohd Ali was not made a scapegoat in the ruling party's fight against money politics where the deputy president candidate had been barred by the powerful Umno disciplinary committee from contesting in next week's polls.

PUTRAJAYA, March 19 — Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was not made a scapegoat by Umno in its efforts to crackdown on vote buying in the party election campaign.

Deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this to reporters today when quizzed about Mohd Ali, who is appealing his disqualification from the deputy presidential race.

"No, this is not the case," he said, when asked if Mohd Ali was made a scapegoat in the party's bid to fight money politics.

Instead, Najib, who will be elected unopposed as president in next week's party polls, said that the disciplinary board's integrity should not be questioned as it would lead to a chain of implications.

"We must make a firm stand. If not all sorts of activities will take place in a bid to grab positions in the party. We cannot compromise and have to place our trust in the board.

"It is not a fun job and we cannot accuse the board of having an agenda or hidden motive," the deputy prime minister said.

Adding that the board acted independently without any external influence, he said that it could only discipline members based on facts.

"Even if we think someone is guilty, it cannot take action without information," he explained.

Najib also said in the case of Mohd Ali, the disciplinary board decided not to make any ruling on his position as Malacca chief minister based on the fact that the wrongdoing was by "certain individuals," implying that Mohd Ali was not fully aware of what had transpired.

He added that Mohd Ali would also continue as election head for Kuala Sepetang, a state constituency under the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat, for the upcoming by-election there.

Najib also said that Mohd Ali's fate now rested with the panel of appeal and whether or not a decision would be made before the party polls was up to the panel.

"Everyone has a right to appeal," he said but added that whether it is successful or not, depended on the circumstances at hand.

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