Sep 17, 2009

Tun Mahathir says quota change pointless if UMNO stays corrupt

Former UMNO president Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes that the decision to abolish the quota system will put an end to party presidents abusing their power. "I am praying that the abuse of power by the president will be eliminated and his challenger will be able to contest (for the post).
"But until now, there is no decision on how a candidate is to be nominated," added Mahathir who helmed the party and nation for 22 years

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — The man who introduced the quota system for Umno elections, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is ironically backing its abolition but maintained today that it would mean nothing if the party’s core remains corrupt.

Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last Friday the abolition of the quota system which previously required candidates contesting for top posts to get the backing of at least 60 of the 192 divisions nationwide.

The move was supposedly aimed at preventing vote buying but Dr Mahathir, in his latest blog posting, appeared somewhat sceptical that it had made any difference to the growing culture of money politics in the party.

Dr Mahathir said that the quota system had failed after it was found that a party president could abuse it to ensure he would be the only one nominated for the post.

He recounted that in 1986, his challenger for the party’s top post, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, had garnered nearly 50 per cent of votes from the delegates even though he had only received a meagre 20 per cent of nominations from the 192 divisions nationwide.

That paved way for a power tussle in the party, which was subsequently declared illegal by the courts. Umno Baru or New Umno was later established but not without heavy cost.

The party was split with Razaleigh and his followers forming Semangat 46.

Following this, the 10 votes bonus system was introduced for any nomination secured by a candidate contesting for top posts but this was also abused, said Dr Mahathir.

“When Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim challenged the late Tun Ghaffar Baba for the deputy presidency, for some reason the former had managed to garner enough nominations so that with just the bonus votes he defeated the latter.

“Clearly, there was something wrong with this bonus votes system as well,” he said.

It was due to this that the party supreme council decided to use the quota system, he said.

But Dr Mahathir said it was clear the quota system had also failed to eradicate money politics in Umno.

“Actually, there is no flawless system. Whether or not the system works depends on those practising it. When the practitioner is easily bribed at all levels, whatever system used won’t produce the desired effect,” he said.

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