Low: Foreign funding should be banned for ‘political’ NGOs

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Civil society groups that have “political” agendas or are clearly aligned to political parties should not be allowed to receive foreign funding, said Datuk Paul Low.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who heads the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, said that laws should also be introduced or amended to require all NGOs to disclose their sources of funding.

“Those involved in politics, it’s alright for you to demonstrate against corruption, but when you have a political agenda, funding from foreign sources should be banned completely,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted. Read more

Local fundraising is tough, Bersih tells Azalina

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Bersih 2.0 has criticised a minister for suggesting that proposed political financing legislation be extended to civil society, amid claims that US billionaire George Soros funded local groups.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s suggestion would only hinder the civil society movement and that the introduction of another financing legislation for NGOs would add another layer of restriction.

Azalina has said that the leaked minutes purportedly from a meeting of Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) made it necessary to examine funding for groups beyond political parties.

“NGOs are different from political parties. They are the supplementary support systems where government has failed to do so. Why penalise NGOs when their agenda is about building a better Malaysia?” Chin told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

The head of the polls reform group pointed out that it was only natural for NGOs to source other forms of funding from organisations like the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) due to the lack of assistance from the government. 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

Panel proposes new political funding law in Malaysia

Source: The Straits Times

A government-appointed committee yesterday proposed a new law in Malaysia to regulate political financing, and that would include a ban on donations from foreign sources.

Mr Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who heads the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, said it will submit its proposal to the Cabinet in two weeks’ time.

This is the first step towards regulating political donations following an uproar over revelations of a massive cash transfer made to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts in the run-up to the last general election in 2013.

Key among the recommendations for the new Political Donations and Expenditure Act is the ban on cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician. “We do not want outside influence on local political institutions as a means to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty,” said Datuk Low.

Datuk Seri Najib was found to have received US$700 million (S$954 million) in his bank accounts in early 2013. The Wall Street Journal has alleged that the money was from debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

But Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared the Prime Minister of wrongdoing in January, saying the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Another recommendation by the committee is for political donations worth more than RM3,000 (S$990) per year to be declared. The funds must be deposited into specially designated bank accounts with the party’s records audited. Read more