LIMA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak said money politics in Umno cannot be eradicated overnight but the party will come up with measures to stop the menace.
Speaking after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting here on Sunday, the deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president said vote-buying in the party had to be fought with commitment and political will.
He was responding to criticism, including by former prime miniser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said even Najib would find it difficult to stop money politics in Umno when the latter became prime minister.
Najib said: “During Tun’s time, he did introduce steps to eradicate money politics in Umno. It is not easy but there must be the will and commitment to do so.
“The fight against money politics must be comprehensive and it is a process that will involve time.”
In Kuala Lumpur, Umno disciplinary board chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen Tengku Ismail said proposals for additional initiatives to curb corruption in the run-up to the March elections were being studied.
He said these included cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).
“We have to find new ways to reduce money politics in the party. We cannot allow this disease to spread as it would have negative implications on the party.”
However, he declined to elaborate on the measures.
The disciplinary board was established when Dr Mahathir was party president. In 2000, Umno held an extraordinary meeting to discuss amendments to its constitution.
These included the formation of the disciplinary board. Tengku Rithaudeen was appointed its first chairman in 2001.
The board, however, has had little effect on the reportedly widespread buying of votes at Umno elections.
Tengku Rithaudeen said Umno members had to be continually educated on the ills of money politics.
“Some members take it lightly and do not see the need to lodge reports. These are the things which we must correct.”
On cooperation with the ACA, Tengku Rithaudeen said a few meetings had been held.
“Things are progressing smoothly. We are looking into how the disciplinary board and ACA can work together to overcome money politics.”
Earlier this month, he met ACA investigations director Datuk Shukri Abdull about battling corruption in the party.
Meanwhile, sources said some divisional leaders who were elected during the divisional meeting recently were expected to be called up by the board.
They are said to have corruptly secured their positions during the divisional meetings which began on Oct 9.
As of Friday, the board has received 837 complaints, including reports of money politics.
So far, 181 cases have been investigated, 31 of which were called to show cause and 18 people found guilty.