Making political party supporters declare donations above RM3,000 could see pro-opposition business owners being persecuted by the ruling government, Pakatan Harapan leaders have said.
PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang said that business owners would suffer if the Barisan Nasional (BN) government found out they were backing the federal opposition.
“That open mindedness and democratic culture is not there. If you are a businessman, you donate, then you are going to lose your business the next day,” the Batu MP told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
He also said he had little faith that such laws would come into fruition, claiming that Umno would be the first party to reject such a proposal.
“It is a fantasy to think that Umno will follow. If [Datuk Paul Low] as a minister in the government can’t convince the ruling party to declare, then don’t announce this. Because I know for sure Umno will not support it.
“For me, it is a futile exercise. So I won’t take his recommendation seriously,” he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low announced earlier today that the special panel on political funding has proposed a new law called the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA).
The proposed Act will require supporters donating above RM3,000 to declare their donation to the proposed Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure (Controller) to be overseen by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Financing.
DAP lawmaker Nga Kor Ming also raised his concern of persecution against business owners, saying there is a need to study the proposal to ensure that there are safeguards against such discrimination.
“In Malaysia, we know that our main concern is that if anyone supports the opposition, they face the risk of being targeted, such as businesses and so on. By supporting us, they could face unfair consequences,” he said.
“We must make sure this doesn’t happen, so we need to study further details of this recommendation,” Nga explained.
“Of course we are all for transparency and accountability, so we are willing to open up for discussion to find a better mechanism to provide check and balances,” he added.
Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Salahuddin Ayub criticised the special panel for not inviting opposition parties to share their views in formulating the proposal as it opens up doubts of whether the law will provide a level playing field for all parties on both sides of the divide.
“The best mechanism can only be formulated if all parties were to sit down and discuss it together,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
“We need to ensure that there is a level playing field and this can only come about if everyone involved have a roundtable.”
In his announcement, Low said the panel had also called for a safety mechanism to protect donors against reprisals, in anticipation that the disclosure clause could subject pro-opposition funders to unfair treatment.
Low also added that award of government contracts should be reformed to prevent these from being used as rewards for political favours.
The proposed law would include a provision to ban state-owned companies or winners of government contracts and concessions from making donations to political parties.
The PDEA will grant the Controller power to monitor fund movements by forcing political parties and candidates to set up specially-designated bank accounts.
Political parties must then keep detailed records of all income and expenditure through a certified auditor. Failure to do so will be considered corruption and offenders penalised under laws relating to gratification.
AIZYL AZLEE@The Malay Mail Online