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ARKIB : 01/11/2004

Dr Mahathir says quality of UMNO delegates has declined

KUALA LUMPUR Oct 31 - Former Prime Minister and UMNO president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the quality of UMNO delegates had declined and this was reflected in the persistent rumours of "money politics".

Dr Mahathir also saw no easy solution to the problem of money politics since those who practised it refused to admit while others who knew about it stayed silent on the justification that those involved were their friends.

"This problem will grow unless we all are prepared to stamp it out by exposing anyone who asks for money, anyone who gives money," he said in an interview published in Mingguan Malaysia Sunday.

Asked to comment on the outcome of the UMNO Supreme Council election recently, Dr Mahathir said the election of several people whose personal integrity had been questioned showed that the choices were not made based on the assessment of the candidates but were instead influenced by other factors.

He declined to comment when asked whether he could pick out the candidates of the Prime Minister and his deputy from among the present party leadership line-up.

"Sometimes, an unexpected person can go up to become PM. We definitely want to choose people who are qualified but, in a democratic system, the unqualified sometimes win," he said.

However, he pointed out, the Cabinet had talented Ministers and he believed the successor to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would come from among the experienced ministers.

He advised the younger leaders to go through the process of gaining experience by serving from the bottom as Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Minister and then Minister to polish up their talents.

"Without experience, they (younger leaders) will not have the wisdom," he said.

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