"Nazri Aziz meluahkan rasa meluatnya terhadap UMNO yang sudah tidak mesra rakyat dan tenggelam dalam budaya rasuah. Menurutnya, AHLI UMNO MASUK UMNO HANYA UNTUK KEPENTINGAN DIRI. Adakah ini petanda Nazri Aziz akan mengikut jejak langkah Zaid Ibrahim yang turut muak dengan budaya rasuah dan kezaliman UMNO lalu menyokong Pakatan?
"The Star, Sunday, 8 March 2009-Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who opted not to contest the Umno elections this time shares his views on many aspects of the party which he says is still in denial."
"Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who opted not to contest the Umno elections this time shares his views on many aspects of the party which he says is still in denial.
IN a frank interview, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, the minister in charge of law, talks about why he is not taking part in the upcoming party elections, his support for certain candidates, and the need for members to go back to the days when Umno was people-friendly.
He also says money politics in Umno has gone underground and he is not confident that delegates will pick the right candidates for the top posts.
(POLITIK WANG DALAM UMNO DAH KE AKAR UMBI DAN BELIAU TAK YAKIN PERWAKILAN AKAN MEMILIH CALON YANG LAYAK UNTUK JAWATAN UTAMA)
A. How is money politics in the Umno elections this time around?
Q. It’s still quite rampant except that it has gone underground. That is the reason we hear a lot of things about the exchange of money but nothing comes out of it. The MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) is empowered to look into all complaints made by Umno members but, as mentioned by the MACC Chief Commissioner, though there were many complaints, what is clear is there is no strong evidence because, as I said, it has gone underground and people are not coming out to say it.
(POLITIK WANG BERLELUASA.. SEBAB BUKTI TAK BANYAK IALAH KERANA IA SUDAH KE AKAR UMBI DAN ORANG TAK BERANI BERITAHU)
Why do you think members have gone to the MACC rather than the Umno disciplinary board?
As far as I am concerned, it only shows that things are getting worse. There are two reasons members are taking it up to the MACC. One is probably their frustration over money politics in Umno and nothing is done. With the MACC Act recently passed, members are aware of the Act and feel action needs to be taken now so they go straight to the MACC. Actually, a corrupt act cannot be settled at the party disciplinary board level as it is not an offence just against Umno that can be sorted out internally. It goes beyond Umno. It is an offence against the state so nothing can stop MACC from coming in because all these complaints are made by Umno members.
(AHLI HAMPA TIADA TINDAKAN KE ATAS MEREKA YANG TERBABIT POLITIK WANG)
The second reason is that people easily make complaints to MACC to have a second bite if they lose.
Does this mean that the disciplinary board is not effective?
It’s just that under the old law, some things were not an offence. Corruption has been described as a person in power being induced by monetary consideration to make decisions in favour of the giver; but in Umno, a delegate has got no power. And corruption was confined to the exchange of money only and that is why many got away with it (money politics). For example, if I am a candidate for the party elections and I pay your fare to Sabah to go campaigning with me, is that corruption? Before, it was not a corrupt act. But now with the new MACC Act, things are different and they can investigate. Any action that can influence the results of the party elections can be considered as corruption. If I win the elections without giving out money, but six months later I bring the Umno delegates for a holiday, that too can be deemed corruption. MACC has wider powers now to look into all this.
(SPRM (DIBAWAH AKTA BARU ADA KUASA YANG LUAS SEBENARNYA)
But surely delegates who come to meet candidates expect to be reimbursed for their petrol, food and hotel expenses?
MACC will know. If the money comes from the Umno division, that’s okay. But if the money comes from somebody else or a contestant – itu tak boleh lah (that cannot be allowed). If candidates want to introduce themselves, they should go down to those places and pay for themselves. Strictly speaking, no money should be exchanged.
Sabah is a big place, so if you are in Kota Kinabalu and want to meet delegates from Tawau and you reimburse them for their transport, how?
That’s money politics. It’s not even a meeting, why do you call them to come and see you? If they were to come with their own money, that’s okay. If you want to meet people, for example, in Tawau then you should be the one to go there (not pay them to come and see you).
Why have you chosen to stay out of Umno elections this time?
Because I have been given the responsibility of tabling the MACC Bill and there is such a thing as integrity. How can I table this if I myself get involved in a contest in which I foresee there is going to be a lot of money politics? Though I may not bribe, my participation in a contest that involves a lot of money politics will in a way be questioned by others.
It’s all about integrity. If I want people to have confidence in the MACC, I want to make sure that I will not do anything that can make people question my integrity as minister in charge of anti-corruption. How can I make a statement in parliament about money politics in Umno raised by MPs if I myself am involved in a contest which involves a lot of money politics? They won’t have confidence. So I have to make sure that there shouldn’t be any doubt at all about the seriousness of the Government in wanting to fight corruption, including in Umno.
(SAYA ADA INTEGRITI. KERANA ITU SAYA TIDAK BERTANDING)
Does this mean if you continue to hold the de facto law minister portfolio, you will not contest any other party election?
I am a minister. The post of minister is more important than the party post. Holding a party post will not enable me to contribute to the general public but as a minister I can. A minister should not necessarily be holding an important post in the party.
But you made the decision not to contest party polls even before Datuk Zaid Ibrahim resigned as de facto law minister.
I decided not to contest for many reasons. I have been in the Supreme Council for about 19 years. I first contested in 1990 and won. Don’t tell me 19 years later, I still want to compete for the same post with others who, during my first term in the Supreme Council in 1990, were still in school. The same argument goes for the vice-presidency (veep). It would mean I am competing against my juniors –(Datuk) Zahid (Hamidi), (Datuk Seri) Hishammuddin Hussein, (Datuk) Shafie Apdal, (Datuk Seri) Khaled (Nordin) – these are all my juniors so I don’t want to compete with my juniors.
I am also a person who would go for the post only if I feel I am better than everyone else (contesting). When (Datuk Seri) Najib Tun Razak was Youth chief, I was his deputy so that’s also the reason I don’t go for veep. The post I would have gone for is deputy president. But I chose not to because I see in (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin Yassin someone who is more experienced than me, older than me and more senior than me.
I have been in the Cabinet for 10 years but he’s been there for 23 years. I look at his resume and credentials and feel that this man is much more qualified than I am so why should I go for the post? Muhyiddin is capable. If I still go for the post – despite Muhyiddin being better qualified – it means I am only interested in myself. But I am more concerned about the party. I want the party to be strong. Najib is now president-elect of Umno and Prime Minister-in-waiting and I want the deputy to be a man of experience who can give support to Najib and confidence to the general public and strengthen Umno. If people look at a Najib-Muhyiddin combination, they are confident. That’s what I want. It’s not about me. That’s why I didn’t go for the post.
(MUHYIDDIN LEBIH LAYAK DARI SAYA)
There are two other candidates (Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib aka Mat Taib and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam) standing for the deputy post and you did not even mention them?
First of all, I cannot support them, not for personal reasons but for real, practical reasons. The deputy Prime Minister will succeed the Prime Minister. We can’t discount the fact that anything can happen and if anything happens to the PM, the deputy PM will take over. For Ali (Rustam) and Mat Taib to take over, it is not possible and is unconstitutional because they are not even MPs.
But it is possible to have a by-election and allow them to contest a parliament seat.
>Is that necessary? It’s messy. And what experience do they have to be number two? As a Cabinet minister, I have not seen Ali in Cabinet. The last time he was in the Federal government, he was a deputy minister. So how is he to command respect from the other Umno Cabinet ministers when he himself is a rookie in Cabinet? There are many other Umno Cabinet members who will be his senior. How can he command respect? These are practical reasons.
For Mat Taib too, whatever you say he is still a junior minister. How does he command respect if he becomes Deputy Prime Minister? Not just with Umno but also the other Barisan cabinet ministers too! How can, for example, Datuk Bernard Dompok from a small component party in Sabah respect them? But Muhyiddin has 23 years, so for practical reasons I can’t support the other two. I am a senior in Cabinet and these two are my juniors if they come to Cabinet. It’s not like I don’t like them personally or anything like that. It’s just for practical reasons.
The March 8 general election was an eye opener as Umno suffered from the loss of support. Why have Umno members not realised this and tried to bring the party back on track instead of engaging in money politics?
Because Umno members go into politics for self-gain and self-interest! They are assuming that the party will never lose! They do not see what happened as a warning of what is to come in the future. They think the public has regretted their decision (to vote the Opposition) and Barisan will get back the support. They think it’s temporary and that elections are like a pendulum that will swing back in their favour, and that we win big in one election and we lose a bit in the next. They say in the 1986 general election the pendulum was on our side and we won big; in 1990 we did badly because of Semangat 46; in1995 we won big again and in 1999 we suffered and lost Terengganu; in 2004 we won big. For them, the 2008 election was a pendulum, so they think they can just sit down and not work because they assume the pendulum will swing back to us in the next election.
(AHLI UMNO MASUK POLITIK UNTUK KEPENTINGAN DIRI)
Are they right?
Of course they are wrong. We have to work and be people friendly. Umno members must go back to the days when Umno was people friendly. Ikut rasmi padi lagi berisi lagi tunduk (The more you have, the more humble you are). But what we see today is that when you become minister or hold a post, you are behaving like warlords and not people friendly at all. Mana boleh (how can that be)? We have to change. We must accept reality that we can’t behave in the way we behaved in the 60s and 70s when we could shout and say anything and the public still accepted us. It’s different now with the Internet. Whatever you say, people will come to know straightaway. So you have to behave yourself. The public are more demanding now, and rightly so.
Another mistake Umno is making is telling the people they must be grateful for what the Barisan government has done for them. That is wrong. What we do for the rakyat, we are duty bound to do. Because when we stood for election, we said ‘you elect me and I’ll do this, this and this.’ So they delivered their part by electing me and I have to do what I promised the rakyat. I can’t turn around and say ‘rakyat, you must be grateful to me.’ I can’t lecture them on that because it was I who made the promise.
It’s been a year since the March 8 general election. Has there been some effort to repair Umno in particular?
I think there’ll be a change when Najib takes over. Right now, we are still in denial. We all talk about how we have to change but it’s only talk. I have not seen any concrete effort.
Does this election make you more pessimistic?
If we don’t change. I don’t like the number 13 (13th general election ). The RAHMAN theory is coming to an end, isn’t it? We are coming to the last of the R-A-H-M-A-N Prime Ministers. After that we don’t know. We have to work hard.
As someone who is not contesting, what is your advice to the delegates?
Like Tun Musa (Hitam) said, my advice too is whatever you do, whom you vote, you must not think of just what Umno wants. You must think of what the rakyat wants and then vote. Umno equals the Government so it can’t be just electing a person based on what Umno wants. It must elect a person whom the general public wants and feels confident with.
Are you confident that this time around the delegates would do it?
I hear a lot. So I am not confident. I hear the questions asked when candidates go campaigning. For example, when Muhyiddin goes down, they ask ‘why does he not smile?’ Is that a reason to vote or not vote someone? They ask ‘why don’t you give me a project when you are a minister?’ Is that a reason for you to vote your leader? Or they say ‘other candidates have given me this but you have not given me anything so why should I vote for you?’ Is that a reason not to elect a person? Because of his face? Because he doesn’t smile? Or they say ‘my birthday was yesterday and this other candidate called me up but you didn’t bother to say happy birthday to me’ or that ‘I was in hospital and why didn’t you visit me. The others came.’
So if you look at all this, do you have confidence? I don’t!
And we are not even talking about money yet. Money is another matter.
I am talking about the mindset of the delegates and how they vote their leaders. You are an outsider and I am revealing to you how the delegates’ mindset works. Do you want a leader who first thing in the morning is at his desk – not doing his work – but looking through the birthdays of the 2,000 delegates to see whom to call to wish ‘Happy birthday’?
That’s quite a scary scenario.
Now you know why I don’t participate.
This is the first time in years that the number two post is being contested. Does it make a difference in the party elections?
Of course. Tradition in the past has been that when the Prime Minister or Umno president dies or resigns midstream, the new Prime Minister can then determine the Deputy Prime Minister without first having to go through the party elections; and when it comes to party elections it’s fait accompli – the Deputy Prime Minister becomes deputy president. That’s what happened with Najib, Pak Lah (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) and Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad). They became Deputy Prime Minister first and then deputy president. This is a very good tradition. There shouldn’t be a fight because the number two is one day going to become number one. It is unfortunate this time around that it is bucking the trend. That is why you find us with the problem we are facing now.
Surely there are others in Umno who are also capable to be number two?
There are. For example, if you say I am capable, I don’t want to. For (Datuk Seri) Rais Yatim, he chose not to because the (deputy) post is too important. Same with (Datuk Seri) Syed Hamid Albar. Although they are capable, they only chose to go for the vice-presidency. It’s not that there are no others capable but these are all thinking Umno members so they didn’t want a fight (for the number two).