Panel proposes RM3,000 ceiling before political donors must be named

Minister in the Prime Minister Department Senator Datuk Paul Low says there's a need to regulate political financing. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Minister in the Prime Minister Department Senator Datuk Paul Low says there's a need to regulate political financing. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The special panel on political funding has proposed a new law on the matter to curb abuses, but suggested that this may not be in place before the general election after the next.

Among the proposals listed in the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) is the formation of an independent oversight body with the power, to among others, confiscate money from unknown sources.

The body, to be overseen by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Financing, will be called the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure (Controller).

“We need to regulate political financing. Not to say that there is no need for money there is a need to manage it to reduce abuses,” Minister in the Prime Minister Department Senator Datuk Paul Low told reporters here.

The statute also proposed that donations not be capped, but above RM3,000 must be declared and the donor identified to the Controller.

“If the donation is more than RM3,000, the onus will be on the donor to inform the Controller,” Low said.

The section of Election Offences Act 1954 that currently limits campaign spending to RM100,000 and RM200,000 for state and federal seats, respectively, could also be amended or repealed once the PDEA is passed, Low said.

The panel also called for a safety mechanism to protect donors against reprisals, in anticipation that the disclosure clause could subject pro-opposition funders to unfair treatment.

Low also added that award of government contracts should be reformed to prevent these from being used as rewards for political favours.

The proposed law would included a provision to ban state-owned companies or winners of government contracts and concessions from making donations to political parties.

The PDEA will grant the Controller power to monitor fund movements by forcing political parties and candidates to set up specially-designated bank accounts.

Political parties must then keep detailed records of all income and expenditure through a certified auditor. Failure to do so will be considered corruption and offenders penalised under laws relating to gratification.

The PDEA is likely to be presented to the Cabinet in two weeks' time.

Low stressed, however, that the law could still be fine-tuned, if necessary, either through proposals by the Cabinet, the Attorney-General or the MPs once it is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

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