Ban foreign political donors, secret funds, civil societies urge Putrajaya

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim speaking on legalising political funding at The Royal Lake Club. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim speaking on legalising political funding at The Royal Lake Club. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — A coalition of 70 civil societies endorsed today a list of recommendations to reform political contributions, calling among others for the ban on foreign donations and secret political funds.

The coalition also urged for the formation of a new independent Elections Commission (EC) answerable only to the Parliament called National Election Commission (NEC), which it said must include one opposition MP.

“Our ultimate objective is to return to the Malaysia the kind of Parliamentary democracy envisaged under the Federal Constitution, through fair elections,” said its spokesman former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim.

In its declaration on transparent and accountable political funding, the coalition said foreign donations can interfere with the autonomy and sovereignty of domestic politics and the formation of national policies.

It also urged for a list of permissible and non-permissible funders to be created, with government-linked companies and those privy to public contracts and licenses to be included in the latter list.

Calling for the EC’s reform, the coalition said the polls regulator must be empowered to investigate and prosecute alleged breaches in election laws, pointing out that the powers are currently fragmented between the EC, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Among the 70 groups from across the country were G25, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Bersih 2.0, and Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

Last month, de facto integrity minister Datuk Paul Low announced that the National Consultative Committee on Political Fundings chaired by him should complete its task by August 31 next year, giving the newly-formed panel roughly a year to fulfil its obligations.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced the formation of the committee to gather input for a law to regulate political funding, saying this was necessary to ensure the country practised “healthy” politics.

Najib denied the idea was a result of the furore over the RM2.6 billion-donation deposited into his personal accounts, and said the panel was a follow-up to his pledge to regulate political funding in 2009.