09 October, 2009

Corruption is corruption, Mr Prime Minister !

Statement by P Ramakrishnan, President of ALIRAN:

Corruption is corruption, Mr Prime Minister. There are no two ways about it. You cannot minimise the crime by camouflaging the offence under some other label. Neither can you make it disappear by simply declaring “that the offence committed by Isa was not an offence under the law”.

It is not true that Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad only breached party ethics. That would be a lie. He was found guilty of indulging in money politics to secure his victory in the Umno party elections for the post of Vice-President in 1994. He won the post with the highest number of votes. In fact, he wasn’t satisfied with the number of votes he garnered. He then quipped that he expected to win his position with an even higher majority!

Following his victory, complaints were lodged with the Umno Disciplinary Board accusing Isa of having resorted to money to secure his victory. The Disciplinary Board instituted an investigation to probe into the allegations of money politics. It called up witnesses to collect evidence and establish proof of the allegation. Isa was given ample opportunity to defend himself. After what must be deemed as a very thorough and fair investigation, the Disciplinary Board found him guilty. He was stripped of his position and suspended for six years, a two-term period. On appeal, his sentence was drastically reduced to three years, a 50 per cent reduction.

Isa was such a powerful force within Umno with wide ranging influence. It would have been very difficult to find such a personality guilty but the evidence surely must have been overwhelming that the Board had no other alternative except to convict him. Eminent people sat on the Disciplinary Board among whom were Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, the present Chief Justice, and Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen, a one time long-serving cabinet minister and lawyer. So the verdict has total credibility and substance to quash any question of impropriety in their decision.

For the PM to claim that the offence was merely a technical one and that it was not an offence under the law is preposterous. Money politics is a criminal offence, it is an act of corruption, and if the PM has any other notion, then this matter should be referred to the MACC to seek their professional opinion! It is rather disappointing that the MACC did not move in to investigate Isa for corruption. If an Opposition person was embroiled in similar circumstances, there would be no doubt as to how the MACC would have acted.

Umno did Isa a favour by not referring Isa’s money politics to the MACC. If that was done then, today Umno will not have this shameful episode of offering a corrupt politician as its candidate at the Bagan Pinang by-election.


P Ramakrishnan
President
7 October 2009

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