Don’t be Umno mimic, Zaid tells PKR

By Boo Su-Lyn August 12, 2010

Zaid mocked PKR’s move to ban money politics, saying this was already forbidden by law. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — PKR supreme council member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim told his party today not to ape political foe Umno in drafting a code of ethics for the upcoming party elections, where 400,000 members will directly vote in a new leadership.

The former law minister lambasted PKR for creating a party election code of ethics that were very similar to Umno’s — such as barring candidates from openly criticising other party leaders, banning money politics and even scrutinising Hari Raya open houses.

“I do not want PKR to be a hypocritical party like Umno,” Zaid wrote in his blog.

“There was a statement which said that [the] PKR code of ethics now forbids candidates from criticising other party leaders and banning the use of money ala money politics. In fact, even Hari Raya open houses will be monitored — these are among the code of ethics that is most similar to Umno,” he added.

The former Umno member said that PKR’s apparent rationale for the last condition was that open houses that were too lavish could potentially affect the election of party leaders.

“How embarrassing if PKR members, a party that is based on battling, can be affected by food and drink!” he added.

PKR was first formed as Parti Keadilan in 1999 on the heels of the massive Reformasi movement led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998. Keadilan later merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia in August 2003 to form PKR.

In apparent defiance of PKR’s party election code of ethics, Zaid said he would continue to organise large or small open houses “as he liked” and criticise weak party leaders, besides campaigning for capable party candidates.

The Federal Territory PKR chief also questioned the justification for drafting a code of ethics against money politics in party elections.

“Money politics is graft, and graft is already a crime under the country’s laws. What is the rationale of making it wrong in a code of ethics?” asked Zaid.

He then slammed Umno’s party election code of ethics, which included a ban on campaigning and lobbying activities, besides dinners and money politics.

“What is the meaning of competition if it is forbidden to campaign?” he asked, adding that former Umno vice president Tan Sri Isa Samad and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin were once disciplined or warned for breaking that code of ethics.

Zaid said that he would go ahead and campaign for young members who could contribute to PKR, expressing hope that there would be no code of ethics for his role as “campaign manager”.

“As an old man, I would like to see young, able and honest people play a big role in the party. I will campaign on their behalf,” said Zaid while stressing again that he would not contest for any position in the upcoming party election.

Yesterday, he dismissed reports that he would contest the party’s deputy presidency and said he had no plans to fight for any party position.

“I hope that PKR will not be like Umno in using a code of ethics and the like to block the career path of a leader. Let members choose freely without being controlled too tightly,” said Zaid, who left the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government in 2008 before joining PKR last year.

The lawyer-by-training also said that he was unable to forget how Umno suspended his membership and dropped him as a candidate in Election 2008, based on accusations of money politics and despite him winning the Kelantan deputy liaison chief’s post in 2003 as well as the Kota Baru parliamentary seat in the 2004 general election.

“These are all dirty politics that were practised by those who wanted my position,” said Zaid, adding that Umno had refused to refer him to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in 2008 because an “innocent” verdict would mean that Umno was wrong.

“There is no need for us to prepare a ‘line-up’ or prioritise certain favoured people,” added Zaid.

PKR’s incumbent deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali had previously hinted that he would not defend the post, paving the way for a heated contest for the party’s No. 2 spot.

Others speculated to contest if the vacancy arises are vice-presidents Mustaffa Kamil Ayub and Azmin Ali, and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Some 400,000 PKR members will be voting in the party elections scheduled to be held between September 17 and November 21.

The party amended its constitution last year to allow all members to vote for divisional leaders and the 25 members of the central leadership council — including the president, deputy president and four vice-presidents.

The party’s 218 divisions will hold two separate meetings: One for the annual general meeting and election of divisional leaders, and a second meeting to vote for national leaders.

The divisions will vote for national leaders on weekends, from October 29 to November 21.

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