The most used words in the current Umno elections are "bom" and "Agong" - according to the grapevine. The word "bom" refers to last-minute attempts by candidates to use large amounts of money to buy votes, catching their opponents off-guard - who may have also used money but probably less - while "Agong" is a direct reference to the ringgit, where the image of the first Yang di Pertuan Agong is printed. That means delegates would ask contenders whether they would see any "Agong."
And such talk cannot be that far fetched because Umno has admitted money politics is rampant. Some said it has gone out of control in this elections. The use of money is so rampant that according to Umno disciplinary chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Ismail, there are now over 900 complaints of various cases, mostly bribery and money politics. Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin said he was "worried and ashamed" about money politics in the run-up to the party polls in March.
And this is only at the nomination stage. What happens when the actual voting is carried out? No wonder some leaders have asked the polls to be held next month because it would be surely too taxing if it's in March, as scheduled.
Would that mean more millions of "Agong" and state awards such as Datukships? There is no way that Tengku Rithauddeen would have the time and resources to investigate the 900 allegations of bribery. Let's not talk about cases where money is happily and quietly accepted. If corruption has become a culture and practice, how can Umno possibly fight corruption at the government level? For that matter, how can delegates of the ruling party treat fighting corruption as its agenda?
Tengku Rithauddeen is right in suggesting that the Anti Corruption Agency be called in to investigate money politics because it is corruption, pure and simple. There is plenty of suspicion particularly the sudden shift in nomination patterns. But as in all things, if there are demand and supply, even the ACA can't prove anything. Read Jailaini Harun's Money Politics, Power and Contracts.