UMNO’s Incompetent Disciplinary Committee

by M. Bakri Musa

Now that UMNO elections are done with, the raging controversies over its Disciplinary Committee’s decisions will soon be forgotten, until the next election season. It is a sad commentary that the party’s attempt at eradicating corruption succeeded in only creating more problems and aggravating existing ones.

It reflects poorly on members of the Disciplinary Committee, made up supposedly of the party’s distinguished elder statesmen. Its chairman for example, was a former foreign minister. They were given a major task and they bungled it.

Their botched performance reflects a more general theme: the dearth of competence and talent in the party’s upper reaches. That, together with pervasive corruption within the party, is what ails UMNO.

The internal affairs of UMNO would not ordinarily interest me except that the party still represents a major (though fast diminishing) segment of the Malay community, and UMNO leaders are also the leaders of our country. Until this reality is altered by voters, what happens in UMNO should interest all Malaysians.

Root Cause Analysis

That UMNO is rotten to the core is acknowledged by all, including its leaders. Unfortunately, that is the extent of their insight. I have yet to hear any reflection on the part of the party’s leaders, from Prime Minister Abdullah down to the lowest cawangan head, of how or why the party had degenerated to such a sorry state.

To date they have been content dealing merely with the symptoms of corruption. Like other human vices, corruption is infinite in its variations. Thus dealing with any one manifestation forces corruption to morph into other more sophisticated forms that would be even more destructive and difficult to detect or eradicate.

The Disciplinary Committee has been at it now for years, mechanically investigating the cases reported to it. The committee has yet to reflect on how to avoid or prevent the problems in the first place.

The committee members are like amahs busily preoccupied wiping the wet floor but never figuring what caused the problem. Had they looked up they would have noticed that the problem could have been more effectively dealt with by fixing the leaking faucet above. In fact they are worse than amahs. A maid may not know anything about sealing the leak but at least she has the common sense to call for a plumber.

The committee has dealt with literally hundreds if not thousands of alleged cases of money politics and other breaches of party ethics. Yet it has not issued any report to share their members’ insight with the rest of party, like how to prevent money politics in the first place.

Even if that was not part of their mandate, I would have thought that they would have been unrestrained in wanting to share their accumulated wisdom. They must have learned something, unless of course they were content with merely being amahs busily and robotically mopping the soiled floor but never bothering to look up to see the leaking faucet.

There are two ways for the committee to discover the metaphorical leaking faucet. One is through a careful systemic analysis to determine patterns and elicit commonalities. The other is to do a “root cause analysis” and “follow the money,” especially with the more egregious abuses, as when top personalities were implicated or large sums of money were involved. Examples would be the current case with Ali Rustam and the earlier one involving former Federal Minister Isa Samad.

There are definitely patterns to be discovered. One, money politics plagues UMNO only during party elections, with the worse offenders being those pursuing top positions. Ali Rustam was after the Deputy President position; Isa Samad, the Vice-President.

The other is that most of the offences were committed in the pursuit of securing the party’s nominations. So why not dispense entirely with the current quota system of nominations? Let anyone who wishes to be a candidate does so without having the division nominate him or her. Further, do away with the current “tradition” of no-contest rule for the top positions. With these barriers removed, there would no longer be the need to bribe anyone just to get your name on the ballot. Such a reform would also open up the process and attract talented candidates. Under its present rule UMNO will never see its Barrack Obama emerge.

With many more candidates contesting, your members would get a better and wider choice. The election process would of course need to be changed to accommodate the anticipated bigger slate. Thus should any one candidate fail to secure a majority vote, there will be run-off elections but with the bottom candidate eliminated. This process continues until we have one who successfully secures a majority vote. Otherwise you would get the current divisiveness and rancor as seen with the recently concluded UMNO Youth election where it leaders failed to gain the confidence of the majority of its members.

A “root cause analysis” would reveal that money politics involves the trading of cash for votes (or promised thereof). Tengku Razaleigh made an eminently sensible suggestion of not only removing the nomination quotas but also having the entire membership vote for the national party leadership instead of at present, leaving it to the delegates. It is near impossible to bribe three million UMNO members; it is much easier with only 2,500 delegates.

UMNO could hire the Elections Commission to conduct such party elections. The cost would be considerably cheaper then the costs of the current “money politics.” It would also be fairer and cleaner.

Incoming UMNO President Najib Razak is finally aware of this. Unfortunately he did not spell out in his recent speech how far he was willing to open up UMNO’s election process.

Equally productive is to “follow the money.” Where do these guys get their cash? After all it was not too long ago that they (or their parents) were stuck in the poverty of the kampong. Many are also former civil servants; we all know how much they earn (at least their legitimate income).

The other major source of money politics and outright corruption is in securing juicy government contracts. Again here, having open tenders would ameliorate this scourge. The problem would also be reduced were the government to curtail its involvement in business. Fewer contracts to dole out, fewer opportunities for corruption!

The Disciplinary Committee missed out on these sensible recommendations because its members are too busy mopping the floor. They had no time, or more likely no intellectual capacity, to think and reflect on these matters. Or perhaps they were thinking of their job security! As long as that leaking faucet is not fixed, the floor will always need to be continually mopped!

A Superior Solution

No wonder the Committee members find their task onerous and unappreciated, or in the words of its chairman, “Damn if we do and damn if we don’t!” They have no clear idea of going about their work. Kampong folks have an apt phrase to describe those who bungle their work. “Tak tau buek kojo!” (They don’t know what the heck they are doing!)

The Committee did not spell out its rules of evidence and the level of burden of proof required. Did it use the threshold of “beyond reasonable doubt” as with the criminal justice system, or merely the “preponderance of evidence” as with civil cases?

The Committee could streamline as well as enhance the quality of its work if it were to classify the cases it received into three categories. First would be those that were obviously without merit. The second would be the egregious abuses with more than just a hint of criminality. The third would the large number of in-between cases.

The Committee should deal only with this third group. It should quickly dispose of the first group. As for the second, those with shades of criminality, they should be referred directly to the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA). The committee should have nothing more to do beyond forwarding all the evidences to the Agency, which is equipped with the necessary investigative and prosecutorial tools.

It boggles my mind that to date the Committee has yet to make a single referral to the criminal justice system. I would have expected where the Committee imposed such severe penalties, as with Isa Samad and Ali Rustam, it must have found compelling evidence that ordinary citizens would classify as criminal. Yet even in both cases there was no referral to the ACA.

Corruption is a criminal act regardless where it is perpetrated. It does not magically be sanitized to “money politics” or “breach of party ethics” just because it is committed within the confines of UMNO.

The chair and vice-chair of the Disciplinary Committee are both lawyers; they were or perhaps still are members of the Bar. As officers of the court they are duty bound to report to the appropriate authorities if they suspect that a crime has been perpetrated. Failure to do so would be a serious breach of their professional ethics that would merit disbarment, at least in America.

Perhaps the best commentary on the Disciplinary Committee was the response from Isa Samad to a television interviewer who inquired as to the extent of money politics in UMNO today. He replied, with a straight face, it must no longer be a problem today since he was the only one the committee found guilty a few years ago!

Isa summed it well! Unfortunately it is unlikely that UMNO leaders or members of its Disciplinary Committee would grasp the subtle sarcasm of Isa Samad’s sharp but accurate observation.

  1. #1 by Melvin on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 4:34 am

    aiya.what to do?as the saying goes.a mother crab shall teach her son to walk straight but she herself not doing so.

  2. #2 by Taxidriver on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 6:38 am

    Dr. Bakri,

    When the tap root of a tree is rotten, how can you save the tree? And how can a crab teach its young to walk straight? Can parent monkeys tell their young ones not to behave like monkeys.

    UMNO leaders may say or promise many things to redeem its image to stay relevant is but a fore-gone conclusion. Malaysians have made up their minds.Period.

  3. #3 by Taxidriver on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 7:40 am


    Can parent monkeys tell their young ones not to behave like monkeys?

    UMno leaders may say or promise many things to redeem the party’s image to stay relevant in Malaysian politics. Sadly, that is a fore-gone conclusion.

  4. #4 by oct on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 7:51 am

    If the discipline committee were to follow strictly to the the rule, most of the candidates won’t be able to stand for nomination/election. If a candidate is found guilty of money politics, it doesn’t make sense that one should be given a warning while the other is suspended. Perhaps the duration of both candidates suspension varies according to the degree of the guilt should be a better solution.

    Selective prosecution has always been the day for BN to dispense. We can see it happen everyday.

    Put it this way, we can’t expect U m Know to clean up money politics when almost everyone is practising it. If you don’t you won’t be even nominated. The returns are very lucrative. Spend a couple of millions and when you are elected to the supreme council, vice president or deputy president, the contracts awarded indirectly will see your returns are multiplied many times during your term in office. Moreover the odds are favorable as it is about 50% for you to be elected to the supreme council if you are nominated.

  5. #5 by Taxidriver on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 8:05 am

    There is one account in the bible that tells about a very prominent family whose young master is the Most Honourable Member of the household. Further down the story, we learn that the young master is also a RAPIST!

    UMNO today is like that family. Every single corrupt leaders running the party MUST go before it can make a sincere and serious attempt at reforms. But I don’t see this happening, nor can I expect to see it happening in the near future.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 8:17 am

    Lee Kuan Yew said it best before and still is, once the core is corrupted, there is no hope. You just have to wipe it clean. There is no other choice.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 8:28 am

    Jelapang female frog Hee Yit Foong finally surfaced to say she had no regrets abandoning DAP or helping topple the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak.

    The DAP needs to be most careful when choosing its candidates in future elections. Money can make many to turn traitor.

  8. #8 by Bigjoe on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 8:59 am

    On Hee Yit Foong, she is just plain stupid. Did she think the fact she opened her mouth on the eve of the tri-elections is NOT going to noticed the same that she jumped ship at the worst possible time for PR in Perak? It only confirmed all the charges against her – her stupidity, self-delusion, and being used by BN. Her excuses does not make any sense at all? After decades in politics, she did not expect the strong reaction? If she was unhappy why do it with the other two corrupt guys and put herself in worst company? Did BN people not checked what she was going to say?

    You wonder about BN machinery to put stupidity out front at the worst possible time. Even in time of desperation, it just kills Najib’s new spin of mutual respect. How to respect with such pathetic lies?

  9. #9 by OrangRojak on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 10:58 am

    Have they made an attempt at eradicating corruption? It seems their efforts are reserved for the eradication of any public mention of their pitiful performance. They don’t need another commission or committee. What they need is a liberated media that can attract customers to their publications by listing the incompetencies, failures and crimes perpetrated by those the rakyat have entrusted the care of their country to.

  10. #10 by wanderer on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 11:33 am

    Name me one thing of UMNO’s Incompetency?
    Total corruptions…and, LIES! ….from the mouth to the s#ithole.

  11. #11 by wanderer on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 11:35 am

    sorry typo error; should read UMNO competency…

  12. #12 by sightseeing on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 12:36 pm

    Corruption is the sacred culture of UMNO and the practice is being sanitized as “money politic”. The UMNO Disciplinary Committee did not report their findings to the MACC because the latter does not deal with cultural matter.

  13. #13 by cintanegara on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:15 pm

    The Super Hero strikes back to save the nation.

    Negarawan Ulung, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a truly great man- a visionary man who took Malaysia forward into the 21st century. He served the country and people well .The west might not agree with his opinions but this will not belittle his achievements or his standing with the Malaysians. A brave leader with undiplomatic attitude, never shied of making the point whatever sensitive it was
    Malaysians are indebted to TDM. He will be remembered by many and future generations indeed.

    Thank you national Hero, for making Malaysians and our generation confident

  14. #14 by k1980 on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:17 pm

    sightseeing, the MACC get their orders from and report their findings to the UMNO Disciplinary Committee

  15. #15 by computation on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:24 pm

    “On Hee Yit Foong, she is just plain stupid.”

    and repulsively ugly as well.

  16. #16 by monsterball on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:29 pm

    This Bakri bugger keep analyzing UMNO…as if without UMNO…Malaysians are doomed to hell.
    This shows how democratic LKS is…allowing a 100% pro UMNO bugger’s message for all to read…with no fear..voters will be sucked up by such messages.
    Let me give you more good news….
    1.Walk in Petaling Street…saying walking the talk. All I know….smiles are police raids for few days on imitation goods.
    2.13 ISA detainees released..proves they can jail or release anyone….whenever they like…with no apology. I guess the public are safe from these terrorists??
    3.Squatters in Perak can stay ..until govt build houses for them?
    4.Hee…why this why that..she resigned from DAP.
    5.”One Malaysia”….God only knows what that means…..from racialist government and party.
    And few more……such such good news.
    Pak Lah did that….one sentence………”People’s PM”……to con Malaysians vote for him.
    Najib doing much more….to kill two birds with one stone…get him trusted and like by Malaysians and win the 3 by-elections.
    Sit back and THINK!!.
    Is that not indirectly admitting they are liars and cheaters?
    Why must Najib plead to Malaysians….”trust me”…after so long in the government?
    What he meant was for Malaysians…to forget the past..forget murder girl…forget Russian submarine deal…RM500 million commission…..forget he played out Razaleigh for Mahathir..then play out Mahathir for Abdullah…and all are OK now….all shake hands forgive each other. How noble… gentlemen like…how wonderful human beings.
    How stupid of me…..not voting for UMNO..

  17. #17 by taiking on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:33 pm

    Dear M. Bakri Musa,

    But didnt umno members say that everything that happens inside umno is their own business and is none of yours or mine. The walls surrounding umno is more than 10 feet high and no one is permitted to peek in. When an amah – using your example above – can at least see the sense to engage the service of a plumber to determine the root cause of the wet floor, umno would simply tell the plumber to go to hell for the wet floor in umno is none of his business. Such attitude is actually worse than a mere failure to arrest the problem or to do so properly or effectively. And it is incorrect to describe umno as arrogant. A combination of stupidity in its purest form and arrogance at its blindest is more like it. And we as a nation is being led by such people. How horrifying it is, to say the least. And soon a certain son of Kutty will be dispensing advice to them from within the confine of the high walls. Really it does not take a lot for one to understand why Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong overtook us with such ease.

  18. #18 by cintanegara on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:35 pm

    K1980 – The DAP needs to be most careful when choosing its candidates in future elections. Money can make many to turn traitor.

    Strange that you forgot to include “nepotism” culture in DAP. Let’s not forget this legacy……… Kindly tell the old men that Malaysians do not support nepotism….

  19. #19 by frankyapp on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:39 pm

    My dear M Bakri Musa ,how can you expect the Umno Disciplinary Committee to be competent when it’s own tools were used. Do you use your own tool for example a hammer to hit your own thumb or hand ? Definitely not,right ?. If umno appointed you and I,to the disciplinary committee ,I can assured you,we both can do a 100% competent job. We all know that umno top leaders are power crazy and that money politic in umno is like a mother’s milk to an infant.

  20. #20 by taiking on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 1:41 pm

    Oi cintanegara your superhero said you and me and everyone else are one and the same malaysia. I take that to mean no nep and no special rights and no quota and no umnoputras-only glc contracts and no for-malay-only uitm and many many more. Waaa like this he will soon be my hero too. But that is ok. Because we all are one and the same malaysia and how nice to share everything including heros.

  21. #21 by monsterball on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 2:03 pm

    Th real Abdullah Bedawi emerged after fooling Malaysians.
    The real Najib can be seen after he looses the 3 by-elections.
    Now is Sugar Time ….sweet and juicy…to lure hungry ghosts.

  22. #22 by wanderer on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 4:06 pm

    cintanegara Says:
    Today at 13: 15.54 (2 hours ago)

    The Super Hero strikes back to save the nation.

    Your Super Hero is a terminal patient, it will be more rewarding for him to seek peace and repent before meeting his Maker.
    Telling more lies and twisting the minds of the ignorants will not help his cause.
    Super Hero… make me blushed!

  23. #23 by ekans on Monday, 6 April 2009 - 5:08 pm

    After seeing the kind of penalties imposed by this disciplinary committee on the Malacca CM & the MP for Rembau, isn’t it beyond doubt that this party consists mostly of the disciples of ‘show me the money’?

  24. #24 by blablowbla on Tuesday, 7 April 2009 - 9:34 am

    since 30 years ago,pls tell me which UMNO’s MB is clean?

    MB means Makan Besar,if they dont ‘eat big’,they feel sorry to their ancestors,and i notice that infact each one is trying to be the champion of all MBs,believe it or not,an MB from a small state like negeri sembilan was once the champ!imgaine how much the guy ‘telan’ from n.sembilan?

    a small klang UMNO division head like deceased mat deros could be a millionaire,you imagine how much the ‘Makan Besar’ could ‘telan’?

  25. #25 by blablowbla on Tuesday, 7 April 2009 - 9:38 am

    and the most ironic thing is,the former BPR has no reaction at all,cintanegara,could you pls explain why?

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