A corruption watchdog has questioned the federal government on its plan to present a proposal for a Political Funding Act for public review.
Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel said the NGO is fully focused on this effort and will work with other organisations to prepare a working proposal on the bill for such a law for the government to review.
“We would like to emphasise that a new law to regulate political funding is necessary. This is why we are willing to work together with other NGOs to prepare a proposal for the government to study,” Cynthia said in a statement.
She was referring to the National Political Funding Consultative Committee, jointly chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low (photo) and his deputy, Idris Jala, which is tasked with doing an outline for a proposal to create a political funding plan that is comprehensive and with integrity.
Malaysia saw the need for a political funding Act after the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion donations deposited in his private bank account before the 13th general election.
During GE13, Penang saw how pro-BN groups were able to hand out massive charities to NGOs and the mainstream press, and organise free lunches and dinners, daily, for large crowds in every constituency.
However, Najib has denied any wrongdoing and has been cleared by of any corruption by attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali.
Najib also threw the ball back on the opposition’s court when he said it was the DAP which opposed any regulations for political funding.
Cynthia recalled that Low had mentioned the need and importance for a proper law to regulate and monitor the existing political funding, as there is currently no such law for it.
“Political funding needs to be regulated and monitored to eradicate corruption, which breeds between the funder and political parties,” she said.
Cynthia noted that the committee was given until August to prepare the working paper so that it can be presented and discussed in the cabinet before it is tabled in Parliament, probably for the coming October sitting.
However, until today, the committee has yet to share or announce its progress in preparing the working paper for a bill to regulate political funding to be presented to Parliament.
“Low remains mum about the progress of the proposal. By now it should have been submitted to the cabinet, it should have been done by the end of last month,” she said.
“Questions remain as to whether the proposal has been sent to the cabinet, and whether Low is prepared to share information with the public regarding the developments of the proposal for a Political Funding Act?” Cynthia asked.
She reminded the government that public consultation regarding the proposed Act should be carried “without any need for secrecy”.
“The National Political Funding Consultative Committee’s openness in sharing information on its work will dispel public perception that the government is merely concerned about the ruling political parties as it sets aside public interests in the matter,” Cynthia added.