EMBATTLED Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused his former party United Malays National Organization (UMNO) of vote-buying after it won two by-elections in landslide victories earlier this month.
He said that in the recent elections in the constituencies of Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, the ruling party handed over money, rice, and electrical goods as a means of bribery to win votes.
The 90-year-old former premier said recipients were asked to make religious oaths to vote for the party that bribed them and were told that if they failed to vote as they had solemnly sworn, then all that was given to them would be considered “haram” (forbidden) to eat or be used by them.
“Many accepted that their oath, when fulfilled, made what they received become lawful,” he said in a posting on his blog recently.
The landslide victories were seen as further strengthening Prime Minister Najib Razak’s rule, despite colossal graft allegations, involving misplaced state funds numbering in the billions, leveled against him.
Najib earlier said ruling coalition Barisan Nasional’s victories in the by-elections was a testament to the people’s confidence and trust in the coalition. He also said it was a rejection of an incoherent opposition.
During the polls, Mahathir – who retains a sizable influence in the nation’s politics – had campaigned against Najib. However, Najib said the two huge-majority wins, and the party’s win of 72 out of 82 seats in the Sarawak election last month, were also a rejection of Mahathir’s “lies”.
Mahathir also pointed out that several quarters had attempted to justify the corruption by not using the kickbacks received for its intended purpose.
“Actually what was given to them is illegal, because it is bribery. Bribery is bribery, and will remain unlawful both to the giver and receiver. Not implementing the objectives of bribery will not make the bribe legal.”
He said those trying to “legalize” corruption do so out of worldly self-interests, such as politics.
“This is why those who have the intention to abuse the power of the government are willing to give bribes with money obtained by lawful or unlawful means or using government money in the wrong way,” he said.
“For them, bribes given during elections is an investment that will generate higher revenue and continued power to accept more bribes.”