PETALING JAYA: Former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam says there was a time when Umno was very careful in accepting political donations.
Writing in his newly released book ‘Frankly Speaking’, Musa details his experience in dealing with then deputy prime minister Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman who was well known for his strict management of funds.
Musa, who at the time was an Umno Supreme Council member, says once an election date was announced, Umno would make it known that the party was ready to receive contributions to fund its campaigns.
Acknowledging his own shortcomings in securing funds for the party despite holding the post of deputy trade and industry minister under the administration of prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, Musa writes:
“Of course there would be many who approached us, but Dr Ismail’s rule of thumb was always to announce that contributions, which included those from the private sector, could not be made privately.
“Instead, they had to be witnessed and acknowledged among witnesses.”
He notes how Dr Ismail’s method continued to be practised during the administration of Hussein Onn, the country’s third prime minister.
“In fact, Hussein Onn was probably more meticulous,” Musa recalls, saying Hussein would take a much longer time to explain procedures to potential party contributors.
“Those were days when leakages and abuse were able to be prevented. Sadly, the procedure does not seem to be the common practice today,” Musa adds.
Musa notes how every contribution received by Umno must have a witness to confirm the amount, as required by Ismail who was very strict with every cent that came into the party’s coffers.
The Johor-born politician said he would usually be the witness and would sometimes rope in others, including his then political secretary Shahrir Abdul Samad.
Musa says some donors would even feel uncomfortable with Ismail’s method.
“He would ask them why they had come, which would make the potential donor feel slightly uncomfortable.
“Sometimes, he would get an answer that suggested the person had come ‘wanting to do something for the party’. Dr Ismail would be very officious,” Musa writes, adding that Ismail would then ask why they were making the donation.
“Dr Ismail would tell donors to their face that they were not there to make contributions with the expectation of getting favours from the government, or getting his assistance to do so.”
Ismail would tell the donors not to expect any favours, licenses or contracts, according to Musa, adding that Ismail would inform the donors that they were contributing because they believed in a stable government which Umno could provide.
This would in turn be good for the donors’ businesses and the country’s economic development, reasoned Ismail, as Musa recalls in ‘Frankly Speaking’.
Money that flowed into the party’s coffers would be recorded, Musa says, explaining that receipts would be issued clearly.
‘Frankly Speaking’ was launched two days ago by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and is now available in bookstores.