‘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.

PKR Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli had said that instead of a political financing law, there should be a law enacted on asset declaration by those who stand in any state or federal election with failure to do so putting them in breach of election laws.

DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke said that while the party did not oppose the implementation of reforms on political funds, many donors chose not to be identified for “fear of action by the Government as they comprise small businesses”.

Last week, the committee released its report and 32-point recommendations to be presented to the Cabinet some time this month.

Among the recommendations are that politicians and political parties be banned from accepting foreign donations, online crowdfunding be allowed and that political donations, in cash or kind that are above RM3,000 yearly or accumulative amount above RM3,000, must be declared and audited.

Addressing the conference delegates earlier, Low said dealing with corruption should not just be the task of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

“The private sector should also take steps to improve governance and come together to share best practices,” he said.

“I hope more Bursa Malaysia-listed companies will come forward and make the pledge. They should also rope in their vendors, partners, buyers and those doing business with them so that we have a corporate sector that is of high integrity.”