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Strong political will to regulate funding

  • It's high time for the PH administration to re-look into this demand from the civil society to regulate political funding.

Sin Chew Daily

Regulating political funding has been one of the election pledges of Pakatan Harapan. As such, the government must demonstrate a strong political will to complete the process of legislating the relevant laws before its term expires in order to implement political reforms and battle corruption.

For so many years money politics has been plaguing the Malaysian politics, and there have been countless revelations of dubious funding sources to sustain the operation of political parties and alliances in this country.

Unfortunately, we do not have any law to regulate political funding activities.

Money politics has been rife during BN's time, and the four by-elections held after GE14 are said to have traces of money politics. Even the on-going PKR elections are not immune from this scourge. Indeed, it is time the government should seriously look into laws to control political funding.

Uncontrolled donations may have adverse implications on the country's politics and is detrimental to the cause of clean governance, 1MDB scandal being one classical instance of lax regulation.

Corruption has gone beyond the level of tolerance among Malaysians for years. It is therefore of utmost importance to institute legal reforms to regulate political funding.

All forms of political donations and funding must be used on official accounts instead of going through the personal bank accounts of individual politicians.

During BN's time, non-governmental organizations and local scholars have in as early as 2008 called for the legislation of a political funding bill. In 2015, the National Consultative Council on Political Funding (NCCPF) was finally formed, and members of the council then proposed a law to control political funding. However, the proposal was met with strong objection from the opposition for fear it would be abused by the authorities as a tool against political opponents. Moreover, the government also did not show a strong political will to complete the process before the 14th general elections.

Now that PH has been elected the government, it is high time to re-look into this demand from the civil society to regulate political funding, Council of Elders member Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram being one of its key proponents.

PH's pledge on political funding includes transparency in political funding and expenditure to allow for public scrutiny; private funds raised by political parties must be restricted so as to rein in corruption and concentration of power and resources; and introduction of a new system of regular public financing for political parties.

Nevertheless, judging from the current political and economic climate of this country, rushy implementation of public funding of political parties is inappropriate, and will invite the frustration of taxpayers at a time the economy is sluggish.

Perhaps the government should first legislate laws to control political funding to ensure transparent fund intake and expenditure.

 

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