Political Financing Needs Urgent Regulating!

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”(C.S Lewis)

So while The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) is indeed surprised and amused at Najib’s latest retort - "I can explain in detail (about Umno's political funding) with the condition that the Opposition should reveal their funding sources too”

We remind him that integrity and responsibility as the Prime Minister compels him to do the right thing first – answer the questions of the RM 2.6 billion purportedly in his bank account - instead of making insincere dares to his political opponents, and deviating from the burning issues of the 1MDB that have since rocked the country.

This remark rings of hypocrisy – more so after dropping the Attorney General and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin after the latter criticized him over allegations surrounding media reports of the massive monies said to have gone into his personal account.

Chasing ghosts among whistleblowers who have courageously spoken out against the scandal, will also not help him come out smelling like roses.

So while several BN Ministers have gone on to admit and even defend the legitimacy of the RM 2.6 billion in Najib’s accounts, we ask yet again, for him to confirm to the Malaysian people:

1) If indeed the RM2.6 billion was transferred (from companies linked to 1MDB) into his private accounts?

2) Was it used to bankroll the last GE for the Barisan Nasional?

We would not be in this imbroglio if Malaysia has proper political financing laws, access to information laws that define limits to political financing, and place transparent and accountable systems in place and audit of expenditure during elections.

The need to begin the process of drafting this law becomes all the more urgent and apparent based on the latest Malaysian Corruption Barometer 2014 survey that political parties are perceived to be the most corrupt institutions in Malaysia.

Instead of challenging his opponents, It is more honourable for Najib to admit that the BN has no political will to carry this out, for when Transparency International (Malaysia) attempted to meet with BN in 2010 to discuss ways to make political funding more transparent, only one of his ministers turned up for the discussion. The minister did so as he represented the Prime Minister’s Department.

As the country’s Prime Minister, Najib must show earnestness and sincerity with the political will to push for reforms in political campaign funding instead of playing a game of charades with the opposition.

C4 reiterates that

The essence of a transparent, accountable and honest political funding system can only come about with the willingness and preparedness of all political parties to make full public disclosure of the amounts and sources of their financing and expenditure.

We further recommend that
1) A new law be enacted to regulate political financing. The law should provide public access to political party accounts, list of donors and type of expenditure.

Ghana shows us that where by law, a political party must provide annually funding details to the Independent Election Commission. The details required include sources of funding, membership dues paid, contribution or donations in cash or in kind, properties of the party and the details of acquisitions.

2) Limit the amount individuals or corporations can donate to political parties;

Norway provides a good model for this, as the government believes increased public funding would cut down party dependence on large donations and give the election system more credibility.

2) Channel funds in party and not private accounts;

3) All contributions must be recorded and audited to show transparency;

4) Amend the Election Offences Act 1954 to require party election expenses to be independently audited by certified auditors before submission to the EC. Give the Election Commission (EC) more power to enforce transparency and accountability in the funding processes during elections.

The federal government can provide funding for Parliamentary elections and the state governments for state level elections. A proper formula can be worked out so that each constituency, whether urban or rural, can benefit accordingly.

The nation is in crisis. The time is now, to restore financial integrity, and make urgent regulations towards political financing.

Released By

Cynthia Gabriel
Executive Director