EC pushes for political financing law amid RM2.6b donation controversy

Aziz said the EC would report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and to the police if it received complaints with supporting evidence that an election candidate had spent more than what was reported to the EC. — File pic
Aziz said the EC would report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and to the police if it received complaints with supporting evidence that an election candidate had spent more than what was reported to the EC. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The Election Commission (EC) has called for legislation that requires all political parties to declare their sources of funding to make elections more transparent, amid controversy surrounding the RM2.6 billion that was said to be donated to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s account.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof pointed out that the election agency does not have any investigative powers to find out if election candidates spend more than the limits of RM200,000 for parliamentary seats and RM100,000 for state seats, as they only rely on receipts submitted by the candidates.

“There must be a law on how much you get from anybody and the like,” Aziz told Malay Mail Online when contacted, noting that the US and UK have such political financing laws.

“Political parties must agree to reveal who are the donors, how much they get, local or overseas… I was told, there was a proposal on that, but one political party disagreed,” he added, declining to reveal which political party it was.

Aziz said the EC would report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and to the police if it received complaints with supporting evidence that an election candidate had spent more than what was reported to the EC.

Najib said Saturday that he would only reveal the source of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) funds if the opposition was willing to do the same, amid allegations that public money had been used to fund the ruling coalition’s election campaigns.

The BN chairman and Umno president also said he will be pushing for a motion in Parliament to ensure transparency in political funding.

Three years ago, Najib had said Putrajaya will introduce an initiative to require that all funds for political parties be channeled to their official party account, but it is unknown if the initiative was ever implemented.

The prime minister has come under the spotlight after the MACC said in a statement on Monday that the RM2.6 billion in his personal bank account, which was alleged to have come from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, was not channeled from the state-owned fund but was a contribution from “donors” instead.

The MACC, however, did not disclose the identity of the donors nor explain how the money was spent.

Malaysia ranked fifth from the bottom in a recent survey of 54 countries on the integrity of campaign financing in elections, conducted by the Electoral Integrity Project based at the University of Sydney, Australia.

The study noted that reporting requirements for political funding in Malaysia are light, as parties are only required to report on their finances annually and such reports do not disclose a complete list of donors or donations.