(Alor Star, Friday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the issue of nepotism and cronyism is considered closed as far as UMNO is concerned, with the UMNO Youth chief Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi accepting that such practice did not prevail in Malaysia.
The issue of nepotism and cronyism cannot be over just because of the wave of a wand by Mahathir like a magician or because of Zahid Hamidi suddenly realising that his higher interests require a higher level comprehension of the political realities in UMNO and in Malaysia about the scourge of KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism.
The first question we have to ask is whether Malaysia has the problems of KKN. I do not think any honest Malaysian can give an answer in the negative, although we can all agree that the problems of KKN have not reached the gargantuan magnitude of Suharto’s Indonesia, but they are still serious enough.
This was why corruption, cronyism and nepotism could become the central theme in the UMNO Youth General Assembly this year, not only in the address of the UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi but in an unanimous UMNO Youth motion supporting the UMNO Youth leader in calling for an immediate halt to unhealthy practices such as nepotism and cronyism.
For reasons best known to Zahid, the UMNO Youth has suddenly been convinced three weeks after his fiery speech denouncing nepotism and cronyism that there is no such thing as KKN in Malaysia.
But such a personal change-of-heart affects only Zahid himself and not
the UMNO Youth General Assembly delegates who had unanimously adopted
a motion to support the UMNO Youth leader calling for an immediate halt
to unhealthy practices such as nepotism and cronyism.
Is Zahid going to call an emergency UMNO Youth General Assembly to convince them that all the UMNO Youth delegates were wrong three weeks ago in adopting an unanimous motion to support his call for an immediate halt to unhealthy practices such as nepotism and cronyism and to ask them to unanimously revoke the unanimous UMNO Youth General Assembly motion on the UMNO Youth Presidential address?
In his speech at the UMNO Youth General Assembly, Zahid had mentioned about why Sime Bank had to be rescued from insolvency because of abuses of power and criminal breach of trust, where borrowers failed to pay back loans they took for RM50 million, RM100 million, RM300 million and more. There were also those who obtained loans without following the banking guidelines, including not providing collateral or inadequate collateral.
These are various serious allegations. Why have Zahid backed out of his crusade against KKN in Malaysia?
I had entertained the hope that when I moved my motion in next week’s Parliament calling for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Nepotism with special focus on the children and associates of political leaders, both government and opposition, I could expect some support from the UMNO Youth. Now, it would appear that the UMNO Youth leader would be one of the strongest opponents of my motion, making a complete somersault from his stand during the UMNO Youth General Assembly.
I do not know whether the UMNO Youth leader has the support of all UMNO Youth delegates to eat his own words and retract the UMNO Youth stand on KKN - but some histrionics by Zahid does not make KKN disappear from Malaysia.
This is why the Arau parliamentary by-election result, where PAS could create a major political in a seat which UMNO had regarded as a stronghold for 43 years and therefore invincible, should be an object lesson to the Barisan Nasional Government - that the issues of KKN cannot be wished away by just burying the head in the sand or denying them from the rooftops.
The only way KKN can be declared as not an issue in Malaysia is for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Nepotism to come out with a finding after full, thorough and public investigations that there is no such as thing as cronyism, nepotism and corruption in Malaysia.