As UMNO's General Assembly draws near, problems within the party has now begin to emerge. Over the last few days, incidence of money politics at branch level has been reported, and I am quite sure, money politics which is an embedded UMNO culture, will not stop there, but will continue at division and even at the national level.
There is already a call by UMNO's disciplinary council to have ACA officers keep a watch over its members during the election period, and this reflects the seriousness of the problem within UMNO today. Until and unless, a more severe punishment is meted out against offenders, money politics in UMNO will not cease. The problem with UMNO is that they view money politics as a domestic problem that will be dealt with by its disciplinary council, and not an act of corruption liable to be tried by the civil courts. This maybe the reason why the activities of corruption by party members, within and outside the party has so often been heard. Shame and the fear of being punished, has little meaning.
It was only today that I read a stunning letter written by UMNO PJ Division Chief, Capt Dato Zahar Hashim (retired) which was posted in RPK's Malaysia Today on August 01, 2008, accusing both the PM and his deputy of corruption and abuse of power. The letter dated 11 July 2008 was addressed to UMNO's Secretary General, a day after a close door meeting which the PM had called, involving all division chiefs, youth leaders, wanita and puteri UMNO leaders.
Capt Dato Zahar's letter states that the PM and the DPM had appealed to all present that they wished to continue to hold their post, until the declared handover date in mid 2010. What this implies is that the post of party President and Deputy President should not be contested, to enable both to remain in power until mid 2010. Capt Dato Zahar view this appeal as outrageous and unacceptable; one that is in breach of the party's code of conduct. He also cites that both the PM and DPM have acted to demean the virtues of leadership by example. As an ex serviceman, I salute Capt Dato Zahar for his stance and courages act to defend the party's code of conduct, regardless of the implication that may befall upon him. He has set an example that the 'saya sokong' attitude that is so prevalent within UMNO, is certainly not his 'bread and butter'.
The next issue that is boggling UMNO is the upcoming Parliamentary by-election in Permatang Pauh, Penang, which was left vacant due to the resignation of its elected representative, Dr. Wan Azizah. The date for the by-election has not been announce by the Election Commission, but leaders within UMNO and PKR has began to make advances into Permatang Pauh.
Whilst PKR is sure of fielding Anwar Ibrahim, UMNO on the other hand has yet to make an announcement. Will it be Datuk Pirdaus Ismail or Izam or Datuk Abdul Jalil (Pematang Pauh UMNO Division Chief)? Whoever UMNO elects to contest in Pematang Pauh by-election, will face an uphill task of beating Anwar Ibrahim at his own turf. Prediction of a possible win by UMNO this time around, abounds the mainstream media, and I am quite sure the 'battle of the media' is set to begin.
Will the Pematang Pauh by-election be another Ijok by-election? We will all have to wait and see.