ACA should explain its impotence on rampant money politics in UMNO and whether it has set up high-level investigation into serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power against Taib Mahmud made by an Internet site

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir  Mohamad yesterday slammed the Asiaweek news magazine for deliberately publishing a picture of him in its Jan 26 issue with an attempt to portray him as a foolish and tired-looking person when  Asiaweek had persuaded him to come out from his Putrajaya  office at the Prime Minister's  Department to take nearly 200 photographs, stating that  "To find a picture that makes you look as if you are an idiot, is deliberatly done".

Although the Asiaweek captioned  Mahathir’s  picture with the words "Is  the prime minister being left behind by a new Malaysia that he helped build?" and depicted  Mahathir as a person "slumped in  his chair and appeared tired and worn down by the unprecedented criticism  of his rule" in the preface to  the magazine’s interview with  Mahathir, Malaysians are more interested in what the Prime Minister said in the interview.

It is very significant that Mahathir did not complain about the question-and-answer interview carried by Asiaweek, which would indicate that Mahathir is  happy about its accuracy but not the photograph chosen or the captions used.

It is rather disappointing that in his first public comment on the Asiaweek interview, he did not take the opportunity clarify two impressions, firstly,  that he had not learnt the lessons as to why there had been a continued erosion of political support for  UMNO and Barisan Nasional since the last general elections in November 1999, continuing to blame  Anwar Ibrahim  for all his political problems and UMNO’s woes;  and secondly, his repetition of the  baseless allegation that "Some Chinese are extremists" because of their support for "meritocracy", clearly referring to the Suqiu election appeals.
Mahathir’s Asiaweek interview has  also highlighted the impotence of ACA, which  should explain why it is so incompetent as unable to prosecute anyone for rampant money politics in UMNO when the Prime Minister  had publicly admitted its seriousness - again in the Asiaweek interview  - and wept many times over it  in public.

The following extracts are from the transcript of the Asiaweek interview:

“Q. Aside from the Anwar factor, the opposition has capitalized on the  perception that UMNO is elitist and moneyed.

“A. I have told UMNO you have to behave yourself. Over the years, because of the success of the country, these people have become materialistic. I admit that. It is a very tough battle to fight.

 “Q.Are you winning?

 “A.  Some grassroots people say, well, we only get a few dollars. The people we elect make so much money for themselves — why do you grudge us these few dollars? If we don't take [the money] then somebody else will. How do you argue against that? But this mentality is wrong. I've got my frustrations with my own party. UMNO is weak because there is  no dedication [like] before. The purpose of getting into UMNO is not  to become ministers and make money. The purpose is to serve.”

Mahathir would not find much support or sympathy  inside or outside UMNO for castigating  the UMNO grassroots for being  wrong,  wayward and corrupt in having the mentality of insisting of getting their  “few dollars” when the leaders “make so much money for themselves” or their belief in the vicious cycle and whole institution of  corruption that “If you don’t take (the money) then somebody else will”.

It is  perfectly natural for the UMNO grassroots to feel entitled to their “few dollars” when their leaders “make so much money for themselves” as the grassroots  would be the best persons to know when  their leaders suddenly  strike rich and change their lifestyles  as a result of  their political positions.

If the leaders are corrupt, nobody has the moral right to ask the followers to be clean.  Mahathir will only be right in demanding that the UMNO grassroots stick to the straight and narrow path of honesty and dedication if he is prepared to cleanse the whole Augean stables in UMNO and rid it of corruption and money politics, starting from the top downwards instead of bottom upwards!

When the former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid made a statutory declaration  in  October 1999 alleging that the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had amassed a fortune of RM3 billion while in government through 20 "Master Accounts", ACA director-general, Datuk Ahmad Zaki Hussin swung into action and announced that  the ACA had set  up a special high-level team to investigate  into Murad’s allegations against Anwar, claiming that almost every paragraph of Murad’s seven-page  statutory declaration contained some information on corruption.

When the 1999 general elections were  over, nothing more  has been heard about this high-level  ACA investigation.

Did Zaki and the ACA set up a special high-level investigation team into the rampant money politics in UMNO when the UMNO President had publicly admitted  its seriousness and wept several times over it?

Zaki and ACA officials had said more than once that they would glean information about corruption from any source, whether from “surat layang” or from the Internet.

Since last week, a website has appeared on the Internet  making serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power against the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, and anyone visiting it would find it  crammed with details and documentation.

Has the ACA set up a high-level investigation team to probe into all the allegations made on this website, which has attracted over 10,000 visitors,  and is the Sarawak Chief Minister prepared to issue a comprehensive statement to clear his name with  regard to all  the allegations on this website before the holding of the Sarawak state general elections?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman