A suitable cap on spending during election campaigns can be discussed if the proposed removal of limits is deemed unsuitable, minister Datuk Paul Low said.
Low, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, stressed that election spending should not be confused with vote-buying, but said there was room for discussion for those who object to the removal of curbs on such expenditure by politicians.
“If there are people who feel that the scrapping of the existing RM200,000 limit on campaign expenditure for federal seats is unsuitable, we can discuss an appropriate amount. Using money in elections is a not a problem, we encourage healthy competition,” he was quoted saying in an interview with local daily Sin Chew Daily.
Pointing out that electoral seats differed in sizes, he noted that it would be unfair to impose a uniform limit on election spending on candidates contesting in constituencies covering a large geographical area.
He said the proposed removal of limits on campaign spending would extend to beyond the campaign period and cover the funds spent by political parties and politicians on activities, adding that the accounts would have to be submitted and audited.
Low heads the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing that recently released its recommendations on the regulation of political funding in Malaysia.
He said the committee will look into public views on the report, adding that there was room for discussion on points such as objections by civil society and the federal opposition on the proposed need to disclose the identity of those donating beyond RM3,000.
While the introduction of political funding reforms may cause political parties to have lesser funds coming in as donors become more cautious, Low said a more transparent system is a positive change.
He said he will table the 32-point report to the Cabinet after Budget 2017 is presented in Parliament, also noting that it could either accept the recommendations in full or make certain revisions.
He also said the recommendations may not be implemented in the next general elections, which must be held by 2018, owing to the process involved where the Cabinet has to first discuss and approve the report before it is drafted and tabled in Parliament.
The Malay Mail Online