Dr M: Parties should crowdfund election campaigns to stem abuses

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that US President Barack Obama had used crowdfunding and managed to garner enough funds for a campaign, while at the same time not making himself beholden to big corporations that may have made contributions.  — Pictureby Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that US President Barack Obama had used crowdfunding and managed to garner enough funds for a campaign, while at the same time not making himself beholden to big corporations that may have made contributions. — Pictureby Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Political parties should switch to a crowdfunding system when looking for financing ahead of campaigning periods as it reduces speculation of misappropriation of funds, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

The country’s longest-serving former prime minister noted that United States President Barack Obama had used this method and managed to garner enough funds for a campaign, while at the same time not making himself beholden to big corporations that may have made contributions.

“He asks for small amounts of money from ordinary people, one two dollars, and that amounts to a lot. And he doesn’t owe any obligations.

“I think crowdfunding for political parties will reduce abuses we find political parties doing during elections. Crowdfunding is a very good system,” he said during the 2nd annual Malaysia’s War on Corruption Symposium today.

The issue of political donations made headlines after it was reported that almost US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts ahead of Election 2013.

Although the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has categorised this as a donation from the Middle East, questions remain over how the amount was used and whether it was spent during the 13th general election.

Detractors have claimed that the RM2.6 billion clearly exceeded the allowable spending limit stipulated by Malaysia’s election laws. PKR has also filed a lawsuit against the PM over the issue.

Despite the size of the donation, Umno minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz insisted that it did not influence Umno or the Najib administration as the funds came from a “brotherly” Middle Eastern country.

On August 14, Najib announced the formation of a bipartisan panel called the National Consultative Committee on Political Funding to gather input for a law to regulate political funding, saying this was necessary to ensure the country practised “healthy” politics.