Another PR exercise at reforms — Terence Fernandez

Source: The Malay Mail Online

By Terence Fernandez

Terence Fernandez, former editor of the Malay Mail and now a media and perception management consultant. Pic taken from the Malay Mail

Terence Fernandez, former editor of the Malay Mail and now a media and perception management consultant. Pic taken from the Malay Mail

OCTOBER 11 — Having covered five general elections, one comes to realise that there is a grey area when it comes to proper conduct involving money by political hopefuls and the parties behind them.

From crisp RM100 notes being pressed into my palm (which were immediately returned!) and media centres and computers sponsored by state agencies, I have witnessed numerous examples of questionable conduct which may be in breach of electoral laws or the very least, ethical practises.

Meanwhile, other goings-on take place outside the campaign period, way before Election Day. Which is why watchdog groups have long called for the need to monitor election funding and for politicians and political parties to come clean over the source of their funding and who their well-wishers are.

These calls have often fallen on deaf ears but last year, the government itself initiated attempts to reform political funding regulations with the establishment of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing on August 14, 2015.

While proponents of good governance would like to think that the leadership caved in to demands from the Opposition and civil society, the more skeptical opine that these “reforms” are meant to curtail the flow of financial support to the Opposition by its ever-expanding support base. Read more

‘Political funding laws good for Malaysia’

Source: The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA: Having a set of laws to regulate political funding will have a positive impact on Malaysia as it will improve the country’s image in terms of integrity and accountability, says Senator Datuk Paul Low.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the recommendations by the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing could be an effective tool to improve governance because if political parties were transparent in their financial activities, the Government would also be seen as having high integrity.

Low said parties which had reservations on the recommendations should look at the proposal “in total”.

“It depends on what they are not happy about but generally, the recommendations can be effective as disclosures will have to be made so that they must be accountable on the expenditure and source of the funds.

“If we want to see an improvement of governance in the country, we have to deal with the issue of political funding. This is what I told the committee which made the proposal,” he told reporters after opening the Corporate Integrity Pledge Conference 2016.

On reservations voiced by several opposition lawmakers, Low said he could not fathom their concerns, saying that the proposed laws would be good for the country. Read more

Do we want to promote more money politics? — Ramon Navaratnam

Source: Malaysiakini

BY RAMON NAVARATNAM

Most Malaysians are wondering why the chairperson of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing (NCCPF), YB Paul Low, and his able committee members have casually recommended the removal of the cap on funding and spending during future election campaigns?

Is it their purpose to promote and expand money politics, instead of controlling this somewhat callous and corrupting bad electoral practice?

Does this new election recommendation help to promote ‘state capture’, where the rich and powerful will be able to provide limitless political funding, that is even tax free, to elect favoured candidates of the rich and to keep them in power ad infinitum or, forever and ever, as the old song goes?

YB Paul Low succeeded me as the former president of Transparency International-Malaysia and so he would definitely know that we were all opposed to likely and real abuses that usually occur in election campaign financing.

The election abuses and the resultant rot get to be excessive and intolerable, particularly when there are no limits whatsoever on election funding and expenditures. This is where we could go wild in our financing elections if there is a no cap policy on election campaign expenditures.

Presently, there are clear cut limits on campaign spending of RM200,000 for federal elections and RM100,000 for state elections, for each election candidate.

Now YB Paul Low and his merry Committee have happily recommended that the sky is the limit for campaign election fund raising and spending. Furthermore, contributors to political funding can also enjoy tax exemption. Good grief, now please explain to us simple voters – what has happened to the well-tried principles of good governance? Read more

Ban foreign donors, political funding panel says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The bi-partisan panel on political funding says cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned. — AFP pic

The bi-partisan panel on political funding says cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 ― The bi-partisan panel on political funding wants all forms of foreign donations banned under a proposed law to regulate political financing.

The proposal was part of the 32 recommendations in a report prepared and released by the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing today.

“Cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned.

“This includes donations from individuals, companies, foundations, organisations, associations or any registered or non-registered entities that are not domiciled in Malaysia,” the panel said in its report. Read more

Panel proposes RM3,000 ceiling before political donors must be named

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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The National Consultative Committee on Political Financing proposes 32 recommendations on political funding reforms. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The special panel on political funding has proposed a new law on the matter to curb abuses, but suggested that this may not be in place before the general election after the next.

Among the proposals listed in the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) is the formation of an independent oversight body with the power, to among others, confiscate money from unknown sources.

The body, to be overseen by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Financing, will be called the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure (Controller).

“We need to regulate political financing. Not to say that there is no need for money … there is a need to manage it to reduce abuses,” Minister in the Prime Minister Department Senator Datuk Paul Low told reporters here. Read more