Malaysia's next PM faces furore over corruption
Malaysia's incoming leader Najib Razak faced a furore yesterdayWednesday over corruption charges against members of his party, while a former cabinet minister called for the king to block his appointment.
Fifteen members of the ruling UMNO party were Tuesday reprimanded over vote-buying during intense campaigning ahead of internal leadership elections next week.
The most prominent was Mohamad Ali Rustam, who was running to become deputy prime minister but is now disqualified. Najib, the current deputy, is due to replace Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi this month.
Mohamad Ali said he would appeal against the decision.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the decision to punish the party members was potentially damaging, and that although UMNO needs to stamp out money politics the timing was unfortunate.
"If action is taken before you reach the final hurdle, then things will collapse. When it collapses, it will create a lot of undercurrents," he said, according to The Star daily.
"And these undercurrents for UMNO in its present state are not healthy," he said, referring to the party's crisis of confidence since disastrous results in general elections a year ago.
Najib has rejected suggestions that the move against Mohamad Ali -- seen as close to Abdullah's outgoing administration -- could trigger a split within the party.
James Chin, a political analyst from Monash University's campus in Kuala Lumpur, said vested interests meant Najib would survive the furore despite shouts of outrage from Abdullah's faction.