10 August 2013

Umno members should steer clear of money politics to protect the party’s image during its internal elections this October, its president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said.

He said Umno members should lodge complaints upon discovering any attempt at money politics during the crucial polls.

But he also noted that amendments to its party constitution, where a larger pool of party members now have a say in the elections, would make it more difficult for votes to be bought.

“With the current system where 150,000 members will elect Umno leaders at the division and top level, it becomes harder for us to give money to get support,

“However, this does not mean that money politics does not exist at all; maybe there are people who will use money politics with the hope of influencing delegates,” Najib, who is also the prime minister, told Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysiain an interview published today.

Utusan also reported Najib as stressing that the chances of polls results being manipulated through bribery were greatly reduced with the tweaking of the party constitution.

Following the amendment, which was approved in 2009, over 150,000 Umno delegates from 191 divisions are now eligible to vote in the party polls, as opposed to the 2,500 delegates in the past.

In the same interview, Najib said the new polling system meant that Umno was now more open and democratic, which would lead to more active contests for party posts.

But the leader appeared to caution against any contest that would jeopardise the party’s image.

“We are the party which the Malays hope in and we must preserve this so that the internal party contest will not lead to any negative image or perception of Umno,” he said, expressing his hopes that the Umno polls would mark the party’s maturity.

“We hope the intention and spirit will be appreciated by the Umno members, meaning that we want to make Umno more inclusive, democratic, and secondly, free from bribery,” Najib also said when asked whether the party members could accept the new polling system.

The outcome of the Umno polls would be closely watched, with Najib’s success in defending his presidency said to be closely tied to his position as the country’s leader.

Senior Umno leaders have been calling for the top two positions in the party to be uncontested, which would then see Najib and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin retaining their posts.


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