Political donations can only go into party’s account, integrity minister says

Datuk Paul Low says political donations should be deposited into a party’s bank account and not any leader's personal accounts. ― File pic
Datuk Paul Low says political donations should be deposited into a party’s bank account and not any leader's personal accounts. ― File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 ― Datuk Paul Low has insisted that political donations can only be deposited into a party’s bank account and not any leader's personal accounts.

Amid calls to legislate political funding, the minister in charge of integrity and governance said such laws are needed to ensure that politicians do not receive donations from sources that would then demand “compensation”.

“Political parties can get funds from a variety of ways including membership, donation drive, public funding and corporate funding. We have to allow corporate firms to donate to parties but it must be revealed because the public needs to know,” Low told Malay daily Sinar Harian.

“We must also ensure that the funds are channeled not to personal accounts... it must go into the party’s account because if it goes into a personal account, it will be hard to take responsibility of.”

On Saturday, Najib, who is also prime minister, said he had been cleared of corruption claims linked to a RM2.6 billion deposit in his personal accounts and that he received it on behalf of his party and not for personal interests.

He pointed out that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had verified that the money was not linked to the Ministry of Finance-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad but from donors in the Middle East.

Najib also said he was prepared to present the Umno accounts to the general public provided the opposition parties also did the same.

Najib's supporters in the party have been defending their leader, saying that such political donations are commonplace, and that the party president was allowed to hold such funds as the party’s trustee.

Yesterday, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said it is common practice for the head of any political entity to hold funds on behalf of the party, amid the uproar over the RM2.6 billion donation found in his president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s accounts.

Shortly after, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he had maintained a personal banking account during his time as prime minister, but annually declared any excess funds in it for tax purposes.

He added that the failure to declare any leftover funds in his personal accounts was considered a breach of the law.

The issue of Najib's bank accounts arose after a Wall Street Journal article on July 2 reported that RM2.6 billion was traced to his private accounts, based on Malaysian investigators.

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