Electoral reform groups push for stricter political funding regulations

Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann speaks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur March 14, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann speaks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur March 14, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Bersih 2.0 and Global Bersih have called on the government to introduce laws that will allow regulations and auditing to be applied on political funding and its backers.

They are also pushing for regulations on political funding to be extended to third parties, both during and beyond campaign periods.

“Political contributions, both in cash and in kind, should also be declared and subject to limits,” they said in a statement today.

These were among 10 recommendations brought forward by the two Bersih groups to the government in their pursuit of electoral reforms.

The recommendations were drafted and presented following the Electoral Reform Roundtable (ERR) meeting on November 30 and December 1 last year.

The meeting was held with the support of Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia, the Election Commission (EC), the Kofi Annan Foundation, International IDEA and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

Bersih in the report also suggested that the appointment process of Electoral Commissioners undergo the scrutiny of a bipartisan parliamentary select committee, adding that constitutional amendments be done to subject defecting MPs to re-elections.

They also called for more power to be given to the EC, allowing them, along with other state security agencies, to enforce the law on electoral offences such as fake news, hate speech and electoral misconducts.  

“The EC should be given responsibility for the registration and regulation of political parties, while consideration may be given to transferring responsibility for the delimitation of constituencies to an independent boundaries commission,” their report read.

They also proposed that the National Registration Department’s electoral rolls be audited with a new geocoded National Address Database.

Other recommendations include ditching the first-past-the-post system to allow a better representation of elected leaders, and that constituencies be drawn impartially with seats distributed based on electoral size.

“The outcome of our electoral reforms must not merely be to have clean, free and fair elections, but also for Malaysia to become a robust multi-party democracy,” they said.

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