Set up Charities Commission to ​regulate NGO funding — IDEAS

Source: IDEAS

IDEAS MEDIA STATEMENT

Set up Charities Commission to regulate NGO funding

Kuala Lumpur, 4 November 2016 – Commenting on calls by Minister Datuk Paul Low and Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to ban foreign funding and for greater scrutiny over ‘political’ non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “A ban on foreign funding is unnecessary but I fully support the spirit behind these suggestions – that is to promote and enhance transparency and accountability among NGOs”.

“If NGOs call for greater transparency and accountability in government, then they should also apply those principles to themselves and lead by example. I am particularly pleased that Azalina suggested for the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) to be the basis for regulating NGO funding. This law does not yet exist as it was proposed as part of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing’s recommendations. I was a member of that Committee chaired by Datuk Paul Low and I am elated that another Cabinet member has now shown open support for the Committee’s ideas.”

“Many of the Committee’s recommendations can also be used to regulate funding for civil society as the principles of transparency and accountability envisioned by the Committee’s proposal should be applicable to everyone. However, I wonder what is meant by the term ‘politically-interested’ NGOs. Does this mean that any organisation interested in pursuing matters such as transparency and good governance is also deemed politically inclined? What about local chapters of international bodies like Transparency International or Amnesty International? Will they no longer be able to receive foreign funds from their headquarters?”, asked Wan Saiful. Read more

Ban on foreign funding sparks fear of Putrajaya’s meddling among NGOs

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

Will Putrajaya meddle in funding for NGOs? — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 ― A ban on foreign funding for civil society groups deemed “political” will eventually lead to direct interference by the government in their daily operations, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have claimed.

The civil society groups polled by Malay Mail Online also explained they have no problems with revealing the sources of their funding, pointing out that the information is publicly available as they are officially registered under the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

“My fear is that, does this mean the government from now onwards is going to interfere in the operation and independent of NGOs, including those who are non-political?” local HIV and Aids advocacy group PT Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer Raymond Tai told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

“It’s not a secret, it’s all in our audited report, we have been practising transparency for a long time, so anyone is welcome to look at our account which is published on our website,” Tai added. Read more

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

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

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