KUALA LUMPUR, 29 May 2009: The Umno leadership has dismissed the remarks by its Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin urging Penanti voters not to vote as a statement made in his own capacity.
Party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Umno’s position was not to get involved in the Penanti by-election in any way, since Barisan Nasional had decided not to contest the seat. Polling is this Sunday, 31 May.
Najib was asked about Khairy’s remarks as reported in Sinar Harian in an article titled “Pilihan raya Penanti perlekah amalan demokrasi: Khairy” on 18 May, in which the Youth chief reportedly told voters not to cast their ballots on Sunday.
Khairy had said that the by-election “trivialised democracy” because the resignation by former Penanti assemblyperson Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin had resigned at “his whim and fancy”.
Section 4A (1) of the act says it is an offence to “to induce any elector or voter to vote or refrain from voting at an election”. A violation of the offence carries a prison term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding RM10,000 or both.
Najib, when asked whether it was appropriate for BN leaders to make such comments, replied: “Whatever action done is action at the individual level. Umno’s stand is that it is not involved at all,” he said at a press conference after an Umno supreme council meeting today.
Najib as well as other BN politicians have held that the Penanti by-election was a waste of funds and time, as they deemed Fairus’ resignation a “political ploy” meant to solve PKR’s internal problems.
Fairus stepped down as Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 on 8 April, and resigned as Penanti assemblyperson on 16 April. Although it was believed he would be charged with corruption for being involved in illegal quarrying activities, he was subsequently cleared by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Najib who is also the Prime Minister and Finance Minister 1, was asked what the Finance Ministry planned to do about the Port Klang Free Trade Zone‘s (PKFZ) inability to service its debt which would result in its total outlay ballooning to RM12.453 billion by 2041.
Najib replied that he had directed Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to prepare an answer for every point raised in the PKFZ report, released to the public by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) yesterday.
“He (Ong) will prepare all the explanations on each point,” Najib said, and declined to comment further on the issue.
The PKFZ report revealed various irregularities which caused the cost of the project to escalate, including lack of management control by the Port Klang Authority, failure to report early to the cabinet, non-compliance with certain Finance Ministry regulations, awarding of the development contract before the project masterplan was finalised, and potential conflict of interests between companies and personalities.
The project was to have cost RM1.957 billion initially but has now escalated to RM4.947 billion.