It is interesting to note the recommendations of Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen. As many know, he is the chairman of the UMNO disciplinary Board. One of its principal functions is to evaluate and investigate complaints of breaches of discipline in UMNO. He has been a minister in the cabinet of Tun Razak, Hussein Onn and Tun Mahathir. He was a so-so minister. Coming from the state of Kelantan, he could never measure up to the eminence and prominence enjoyed by the other Kelantan personage- the larger than life figure of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
The chief complaint nowadays is the rampant use of money politics. Thus far, in this role it has been found wanting.
It is both feared and ridiculed. It’s feared because it has punitive powers. It can suspend or expel a member. However it is often seen as a toothless tiger, its chairman indecisive and incapacitated. It is also seen as a tool for top leadership to carry out selective persecution. The ultimate signal seems to rest with the UMNO president. It depends on who he wants to bump off.
Before any one case is brought for hearing before the board, whereby the accused is allowed to defend him or herself, the complaint is evaluated first by a preliminary committee. Imagine therefore a pre-selection committee. It has powers to determine the fate of any one complaint. It alone decides whether the complaint deserves to see the light of day. This committee probably consist of a few people. It is they who decide the merits of each complaint.
Because it serves as a filtering committee, it has attracted its own share of criticisms. One of the most common criticisms is the usage of selective filtering. At this stage, the subject of the complaint or his/her agents can still influence whether one’s case is brought before the disciplinary board.
Take the example of the case of Isa Samad. The constantly eye-twitching Tan Sri Isa was one of the contestants in the vice president’s post. He subsequently won top position. For a brief period he enjoyed the privilege of sitting immediately next to the deputy president on the stage in PWTC. Alas, his glory days did not last. He was accused of using money to secure that position. He was found guilty of money politics by the UMNO Disciplinary Board and was suspended as an UMNO member.
The question and suspicions of many UMNO members was and is, why only Isa Samad? The other prominent contestant who was also perceived and known to be a heavy punter was Ali Rustam. Indeed he himself was very sure he would be the next to be hauled up and made to suffer the same fate as Isa Samad. He was saved from the political gallows.
The answer may very well lie with the pre-selection committee. A few greying men, unfortunately known to be unfree from their dependence on UMNO’s business largesse, determine which one need to brought up to the main board.