He said the decision of Umno disciplinary committee banning Mohd Ali Rustam from contesting for the No 2 party post in next week's polls was based on information gathered.
The board has been accused of selective prosecution when it barred the Malacca Chief Minister from contesting in the party polls but let off Khairy Jamaluddin, who is vying for the Umno Youth Chief post, with just a stern warning although he was found guilty of the same offence.
The NST has the story below
'Ali is not a scapegoat'
By : Hamidah Atan
PUTRAJAYA: Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was not made a scapegoat in the party’s relentless effort to rid itself of money politics, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Najib, who is Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister, said the action taken by the party’s disciplinary board to bar Ali from contesting the deputy presidency should not be questioned but respected by all.
“No, no, he is not a scapegoat. That is not the case,” Najib, who is also finance minister, said after launching the Inland Revenue Board’s e-service campaign at the ministry yesterday.
The board on Tuesday barred Ali, who is also Malacca chief minister, from contesting in the elections next week.
Also present were Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop and the board's IRB chief executive officer Datuk Hasmah Abdullah.
Najib also dismissed as untrue claims that Ali had been sabotaged.
“No such thing. They (disciplinary board members) acted based on information. If they have information, they will definitely act but if there is none, even though offences may have been committed, the members cannot simply act.”
Najib said he had confidence in the credibility and integrity of the board members. “This independent body was formed by Umno itself after a special session was called and the board ethics were approved. We have never interfered in their decisions.”
Najib said all Umno members must make a firm stand whether they wanted to take good care of Umno’s good name or condone illegal activities in jostling for party posts.
“There are no excuses. The board should be given due respect and trust. Their jobs are really burdensome, not something that they enjoy. We should not question their intentions or decisions. If we start doing so, there will be all kinds of ramifications.”
Asked on the people’s perception that Ali should no longer be the chief minister as he had been implicated in money politics, Najib said the disciplinary board had agreed that he could continue as one.
“The board decided so based on facts.”
On the call by former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Ali’s appeal should not be entertained, Najib said in whatever cases for that matter, everyone had the right to appeal.
“The right to appeal is always there. Whether it is successful or not, it is up to the appeals panel as they are the ones who will decide. We cannot deny the people the right to appeal.”
To another question, Najib said it was up to the panel to deliberate on Ali’s appeal before or after party elections.