G70 raises concern over political funding


Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: The G70 Coalition has commended some of the proposals outlined by the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, but has identified three areas of concern.

Among the contentions of the coalition – led by G25, the group of influential Malays rich with experience in various fields – is the proposal to not have limits on donations to and expenditure by parties.

“While we acknowledge that individuals and companies have the right to support political parties, this right cannot be to the detriment of the fundamental principle of creating a level playing field during elections,” they said in a statement yesterday.

G70 comprises 70 non-governmental organisations that signed a declaration last September on transparent and accountable political funding as the underlying framework to eliminate corruption and promote clean governance. It included Empower, Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), Bersih 2.0, Islamic Renaissance Front, All Women’s Action Society (Awam) and Tenaganita.

The coalition viewed the proposal as an undermining of the reforms’ primary objective, which is to stop the huge inflow of money into the Malaysian political system and during election campaigns and allowing for the rich elite to dominate election funding.

They also highlighted the lack of institutional reforms proposed, apart from the setting up of an Office of Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure.

“We recognise that the committee did state that the Cabinet’s Terms of Reference to them did not include a review of the functioning of public institutions, such as the Election Commission (EC) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers on matters involving federal and state elections and the prosecution of those who violate the relevant legislation,” G70 conceded.

However, they said the committee’s recommendations could not be seen as a thorough reform of the monetisation of politics, unless the necessary institutional reforms were instituted.

The G70 also disagreed that full disclosure would contribute to fair elections, as it might hamper Opposition parties from securing donations from businesses unless proper institutional reforms were introduced.

“Adequate institutional safeguards must be introduced to ensure donors will not be harassed, even victimised. These issues involving institutional reforms and mechanisms to prevent the victimisation of donors to Opposition parties have been addressed in the recommendations we submitted to the Government,” they added.

The committee, led by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low, released a 32-point recommendation for polls reform on Sept 30. Its recommendations will be submitted to the Cabinet in less than two weeks.