KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — US billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations today insisted that the money it provides to Malaysian civil society is to “support democratic practice”, among others, and not to remove the current government.
Responding to a leaked document purportedly of an OSF meeting that allegedly discussed such an agenda, it also maintained that the funding of approximately US$700,000 a year to Malaysian NGOS was non-partisan.
“Claims that the Open Society Foundations funded attempts to overthrow the government in Malaysia are entirely false.
“The Open Society Foundations support justice, accountability and democratic practice around the world and in Malaysia our grant-making to civil society includes efforts to promote public health, foster fair migration policies and encourage the civic and political participation of all Malaysian citizens,” it said in a statement today.
The OSF explained that it has been funding Malaysian civil society for more than a decade.
The foundation also said that while it had extended “small grants” to Bersih 2.0 in 2012 as well as the groups under its umbrella, it was not currently funding the electoral watchdog.
The OSF added that among its objectives were to empower sections of Malaysian community that have been left out of local discourse, such as youth, women and indigenous peoples.
It said projects in which it has been involved include voter education, election monitoring, and oversight for free and fair elections, among others.
Other activities not centred on elections and voting include its support for Sarawak natives who are battling against dam development in the state.
The leaked document has led to allegations that Soros’s OSF funded Bersih 2.0 and other groups for the purpose of overthrowing the Malaysian government.
The police have since formed a special task force to investigate the allegations.
It also prompted a minister to urge Putrajaya to extend a proposed law on political financing to police NGOs that are involved in Malaysian politics.