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Nov 7, 2008

`Scary' Bribery in Malaysia's Ruling Party

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia's ruling party, in government for more than five decades, plans to change the way it elects leaders to end a culture of vote-buying that hands top positions to the highest bidder, the group's treasurer said.

Bribery has become ``blatant'' and ``scary,'' Azim Zabidi, treasurer of the United Malays National Organisation and a member of the party's leadership committee, said in an interview. ``It's gone down to the fabric of UMNO itself.''

UMNO is considering giving a vote to each of its 3 million members, making it too expensive to bribe them all, Azim said. That would replace a system where candidates seek enough nominations from the heads of 191 regional branches to be eligible for a leadership post. Fewer than 3,000 members then cast votes at party elections.

UMNO, the largest in Malaysia's ruling coalition, is facing the biggest challenge to power after suffering its worst national election result in March, and risks losing more support unless it roots out bribery.

``The party will have to show they are reforming,'' said Ooi Kee Beng, an analyst at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ``UMNO seems to be consolidating itself around its old culture, which includes vote buying.'' ... selanjutnya.


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