The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Umno supreme council member Datuk Norza Zakaria became the highest-ranking party official to be charged with vote buying today as he claimed trial to two charges of giving bribes at the Temerloh magistrate's court.
Norza, 43, who is also Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, is alleged to have committed the offences on Jan 20 at 6.30pm in Taman Bandar Temerloh.
He is charged with corruptly giving Khadri Musa RM1,500 through Halimi Kamaruzzaman to be distributed to party delegates as an inducement to vote for him (Norza) in the contest for a supreme council seat in the Umno elections in March.
Norza, a former political secretary to a minister, is also charged with corruptly giving RM1,900 to Mohammad Anuar Yunus through Halimi Kamaruzzaman for the same purpose.
He was released on RM10,000 bail in one surety by magistrate Ida Rahayu Sharif who fixed April 22 to mention the case. Norza is represented by senior lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief prosecutor Abdul Razak Musa led the prosecution.
Norza had earlier denied that he was under investigation and said that he was asked by the commission to help in its probe on money politics.
It was reported last month that the MACC had hauled him in for questioning following allegations that he had paid several people between RM300 and RM500 to ensure victory in the polls.
More than 13 people were arrested and questioned by the commission as they were alleged to have received money from the politician.
Norza's case came despite a flurry of backroom activity over the past few weeks and speculation of intervention from the highest level over his case.
The action by the MACC comes at a time when serious doubts are being raised over the willingness of enforcement agencies to tackle money politics in Umno and strong perception among Malaysians that corruption is too rooted in Umno.
A survey released by the Merdeka Centre yesterday showed that 61 per cent of those polled viewed corruption as the biggest problem in Umno.
This view on the ground is unlikely to change unless there is a concerted effort to clean up the party.