EC: Not our business to monitor how much political parties spend during elections

Datuk Seri Hashim Abdullah says the EC does not plan to push for stricter finance rules for polls campaigns as such matters are beyond its purview. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Hashim Abdullah says the EC does not plan to push for stricter finance rules for polls campaigns as such matters are beyond its purview. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 27 ― The Election Commission (EC) does not plan to impose spending caps on political parties during elections or push for stricter finance rules for polls campaigns as such matters are beyond its purview, newly-appointed chairman Datuk Seri Hashim Abdullah has said.

Hashim noted that there is currently no specific law on political financing in Malaysia save for the Election Offences Act 1954, which stipulates that candidates contesting in any election must declare their campaign expenses.

Section 19 of same Act puts a cap on how much individual candidates can spend during campaigning, with a RM100,000 limit for those contesting state seats and RM200,000 for candidates contesting parliamentary seats. The section does not mention spending caps on political parties.

“For us in the EC, we monitor how much the individual candidate spends in the elections during the campaign period, he or she sends in the invoice and we scrutinise it.

“The question of how much a political party spends for elections we are not concerned about, because we don't know whether a political party uses all of its funds for elections,” he told Malay Mail Online in an interview this week.

“If we want to audit the accounts of political parties, we definitely cannot do that. That is not the EC's job, it is beyond our control,” Hashim added.

He said for the EC to monitor the source of funding for political parties or excess expenditure by parties during campaigns, legal amendments would first be necessary or the enactment of a special law.

Hashim explained that the EC is already a member of the Consultative Committee on Political Funding (JKNMPP), and will continue to provide its views on related matters as and when is necessary.

“You have to remember the main role of the EC is to carry out an election and therefore we cannot interfere in the jurisdiction of other bodies like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police and the Attorney-General's Chambers.

“Investigating political funding or expenditure by political parties is not under the EC's purview,” he said.

On August 14 last year Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the formation of the JKNMPP to gather input for a law to regulate political funding, saying this was necessary to ensure the country practiced “healthy” politics.

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