Umno reforms “not good enough”

By Koh Lay Chin, The Nut Graph

TAN Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas isn’t just a member of Umno’s disciplinary board. He is also Malaysian Institute for Corporate Governance (MICG) president, and former Transparency International (Malaysia) executive council member.

Megat Najmuddin has been outspoken about corruption, even describing political corruption as “the mother of all corruptions”. He is also a firm proponent of corporate governance. He speaks exclusively to The Nut Graph on 9 Oct 2009 about Umno‘s proposed constitutional amendments — which will be debated on Thursday, 15 Oct 2009 — and whether he believes they will lead to meaningful reforms.

TNG: You are aware of the constitutional amendments being proposed. What do you think of them so far? Will they bring about the reform you want?

Megat Najmuddin: To be honest, I am not that enamoured of the amendments to the constitution as I do not think that it is big or deep enough. Until and unless our total political makeup changes, I think nothing is going to change.

You don’t think widening the pool of voters to pick the leaders of the party is going to change things?

Well, I think that is good, but that is not my bone of contention. Widening the pool of voters is good, but the system and culture of self-interest and money politics have to change. There is this culture of focusing on material gains, and the question of “Apa yang ku dapat?” is being asked all the time.

I think that being in the party should be about sacrifice and perjuangan, and this is what we have lost sight of. It has been replaced by self-interest.

What is our ideology now? We have not spelt it out. What is our struggle? The whole old fight for Malay rights and interests, that is kaput. What is our new tagline now, and what is our thinking and our sense of purpose?

Currently, we have people who are in the party who view their positions in it as a means to achieve material success or power. But our forefathers started the party based on notions of sacrifice.

That’s interesting, that you are talking about Umno having no ideology. But if not [the struggle] for Malay rights, then what now?

It is time to fight for everybody, and that includes the non-Malay [Malaysians]. That mindset has not gone in yet, not even after [the general election of] 2008. On the ground we still have people spouting semi-racist or racist comments, and this is worrying to me. I think we should open up the party to the non-Malay [Malaysians].

And I think there should be an emphasis on quality rather than quantity when it comes to membership. We cannot have those who are clearly unsuitable becoming members in our ranks.