Umno money pushers hemmed-in by board and MACC

(Bernama) – There is the Umno Disciplinary Board on one side. There is the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the other.

And Umno members involved in money politics seem to be hemmed in by both.

“Although we are not referring any of our cases to the MACC, we are working concurrently with them. And, maybe, they are investigating some of these cases as well. We don’t know,” Umno Disciplinary Board member and Umno Legal Adviser Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun informed.

Although the MACC has hinted that more Umno members would be brought to court for corruption, the disciplinary board has dispelled any notion it was slowing down its own investigation.

Mohd Hafarizam said it was business as usual for the board and that it was currently investigating more than 100 cases of political corruption.

He explained that some party members had filed reports to both the board and the MACC and that each was conducting its own investigation.

“We are not dropping these cases just because MACC is also on them, and neither is MACC. And I have to point out that even if these people are later found not guilty in a court of law, they may not escape us.

“This is because we are investigating under the party’s Code of Ethics, i.e. abuse of power while the MACC’s investigation is on the criminal nature (of the offence),” he said.

He, however, admitted it also depended on whether those cases were part of the reports they had received, as they could not initiate their own investigation without an official complaint.

Mohd Hafarizam also said that the MACC had approached the board for assistance in a few cases.

“When they came to us, mostly they asked for evidence such as the money involved in the said cases, and we gave our full cooperation,” he said.

Mohd Hafarizam dismissed a suggestion that such cooperation might be perceived in a negative light as those found guilty by a court of law faced imprisonment as well as a fine while those investigated by the board might only lose their party membership or rights as a member.

“You can’t compare us with the MACC because we are two different bodies. The disciplinary board is an internal body of a political party, and though we share the same purpose — that is to combat graft — we have a different set of procedures and rules. Unlike the MACC, we can’t prosecute people.

“And we are doing our job as prescribed to us, bound by the party’s rules as agreed by Umno members,” he said.

Mohd Hafarizam also squashed any notion that the cooperation between the board and the MACC was a way out for the board from dealing with the “big fish” in the party.

“We are acting without fear or favour, regardless of the size of the fish. If we find basis in the complaint, we’ll pursue the case,” he stressed.

However, he lamented that some of the complaints, although with strong basis, could not be pursued due to incomplete documentation.

“When we receive complaints, we go through all of it one by one and sort it out regardless of whether it falls under our responsibility or not. After that we sort it out (to see) if it has any basis and, if it has, whether it has enough evidence.

“If not, we send a letter asking the complainant to submit necessary documents and evidence. Unfortunately, many of these letters do not get a reply, so we cannot proceed with the cases because of lack of evidence,” he said.

Then again, perhaps it is time for Umno members to choose the stiffer of the two penalties if they are serious about cleaning up the party of political graft.

Those found guilty under Section 10(b)(aa) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997, can be jailed up to 20 years and fined five times the value of the gratification, or a maximum of RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

However, under the party’s Code of Ethics, Umno members who are found guilty of abusing their power which includes money politics will find themselves losing their party posts, being suspended or losing their rights as a member, among other things, with a right to appeal.