|Oct 20, 08 3:28pm|
|A veteran Umno leader today said he had been asked to pay for votes in an upcoming contest for top posts, and warned that money politics would destroy the organisation.
Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said “the majority” of Umno members were more interested in making money out of the election than in voting for the right person.
“The majority of Umno people want to look for money and not for good leaders,” said Rais, a member of Umno’s decision-making committee who is vying for the vice-presidency.
“We have been approached under the cloak of assistance and cloak of contribution. (But) I’m not a player so you don’t see my marks going up very high.
“If you want to be a good player, you have to say yes (to vote-buying),” he told reporters.
Rais, who has been with Umno for over 33 years, said the problem of money politics within the ruling party should be eradicated or it “will surely kill the party.”
Umno, which has ruled Malaysia since independence, is holding meetings to nominate candidates for party posts after suffering major losses in polls this year. It will hold party elections next March.
“If Umno cannot curb this practice, Umno’s future is done for because this has been (talked about) for the past two decades and it has not been curbed,” he said.
In July, Umno asked the country’s anti-corruption agency to help it battle vote-buying ahead of the heated battle for top leadership positions in the party.
Rais has only garnered five nominations of the 19 needed to contest in the party polls.
Supreme council meeting tonight
Meanwhile, the party’s highest decision-making body, the supreme council, held a meeting which lasted for some four hours at the Putra World Trade Centre tonight.
The party was expected to discuss renewed calls made for the party polls to be brought back to December from next March.
However party president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did not hold a press conference at the end of the meeting.
“The press is not even supposed to be here,” quipped Abdullah when he was pressed by journalists on what had transpired at the meeting which started at 8.30pm.
Earlier today, when asked to comment on the calls to bring the party polls back to December, Abdullah told reporters to wait for the supreme council meeting to be over first.
“Wait. There, we will meet the media and we will inform you then,” he had said.
Although the party had adjourned its elections from December to next March, there have been calls from various party leaders for the polls to be brought back to December.
Many said that the campaigning period was too long before party polls in five months time while others argued that this was a move to make Abdullah step down much earlier than his earlier promise to do so in March.
In recent days, deputy president hopeful Muhyiddin Yassin also had backed such calls for the party polls to be brought back to December.
And tonight Muhyiddin informed reporters that the supreme council meeting had nothing to do with party polls.
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