It does not appear so and the possibilities look endless though there has been no complaint as yet. Some party members, in denial as always, would in fact be angry at the suggestion that money politics and vote-buying would still reign.
The sum above is among the numerous estimates put up by many people who are not convinced that money politics could be fully eradicated even with a revamped system that has a wider voting base compared with just 2,500 previously.
In fact, the RM13 million figure needed for vice-presidency came from no less than Pulai Division Chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed when he wrote in a news portal the other day.
“It is an estimate. But the UMNO divisions play a crucial role,” he said last week when I asked him where he was coming from with that write-up.Yes, it is all about the divisions holding the key as always, and by extension, the division heads having great influence in the outcome.
Overall there are some 20,000 branches in 191 divisions. The 146,000 delegates will be picked from these but the point to note is that their votes would not be aggregated in determining the outcomes. Rather their votes would only be tallied at the respective divisions and in the end only count as one, representing that division.
Example: 800 delegates in Jelutong division cast their votes for Vice-President (each is allowed to pick three) — 600 votes for Candidate A, 500 for B, 300 for C, 300 for D, 150 for E and 150 for F. It means Candidate A is the pick from this division but it will not carry 600 votes — only one vote, that is representing Jelutong. This is where the maths comes in since it is all about winning over the respective division, not individual delegates.
And Nur jazlan was told of the calculations: “If there are six candidates contesting for three vice-president’s slots, a candidate only needs to secure support from just 64 of the 191 divisions (one third) to be assured of a win.
“If a candidate goes out to seek assistance from a particular division leader to get that one vote from his division and forks out an investment of, say, RM200,000 for one division, the candidate only needs to invest slightly less than RM13 million to win (RM200,000 x 64).”
If the same formula is used for Supreme Council, an aspirant needs solid backing from just seven or eight divisions to secure one of the 25 elected places in the panel. (RM200,000 x 8 = RM1.6 million).
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who has been returned unopposed as party president, gave a stern reminder on Saturday when he told party members not to resort to three things in this election — abuse of power, personal attacks and money politics. But knowing the stakes, people can be very resourceful nowadays.
It must be remembered that a place as UMNO Vice-President puts a person in a comfortable position for the next level should anything happen to anyone of the top two.Hence, the assumption that some investment is needed to secure it.
Records show that money politics is quite entrenched in Umno. In the last party election alone we saw prominent candidates being forced to pull out due to the menace. The deep pockets of some candidates as well as affluent connections among many have given rise to the deep-rooted patronage system in the party.
Former UMNO President Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did everything, including shed tears on stage, to coax members out of the habit but it never really died. Nur Jazlan in his posting noted: “I remember my late father Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat as party Secretary-General at one time revealed that in the 1993 UMNO elections, the then rising star Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim invested RM1 million each to 90 division leaders in his bid to become Depuy President of the party and also to put him in line for No 1 and Prime Minister.”
Yes, we remember the Wawasan Team and the start of serious money politics. So, UMNO members who may be upset at suggestions that money politics could be alive still, don’t be angry at me or this paper. Just deal with it.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.