PM: Putrajaya studying Germany’s political funding model, not corrupt US lobbying

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives at the Prime Minister’s Department Monthly Assembly in Putrajaya July 9, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives at the Prime Minister’s Department Monthly Assembly in Putrajaya July 9, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, July 9 — The federal government is currently studying the political funding models of other countries such as Germany, where the government gives political funds to political parties for elections, the prime minister said today.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad noted the fact that political parties need money to contest in elections and went on to talk about models that will be studied.

“In some countries, the government provides the fund to all political parties.

“That is done, I think in Germany, we have to study that, whether that is something we can do,” he said in a press conference broadcasted live after he chaired a special Cabinet committee on anti-corruption here.

In Germany, political parties raise funds through a combination of membership fees, donations from individuals or companies, and annual subsidies by the government using taxpayers’ money.

Last month, German lawmakers voted to increase the annual taxpayer funding for political parties by another €25 million (RM118.76 million) for each year, increasing the total annual government limit for political parties to €190 million (RM902.56 million).

The political parties in Germany are required to submit annual financial statements to the legislature which will be published and made available for public scrutiny. Such financial statements will contain information on the party’s source and use of funds, as well as its assets and liabilities.

But Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya will not adopt the United States system where lobbyists are funded, with purposes including the persuading and influencing of lawmakers to pass laws that are in favour of the funder.

“But on the other hand, we see the US, where they have a system of lobbyists. The lobbyists are paid to lobby and to influence the government to do certain things for certain people who have paid them money.

“That to us is corruption, we will not allow that in Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had noted that political funding is “necessary” as political parties need financial resources, adding that party members and supporters usually provide the required money.

“But when you give supporters the right to provide money to political parties, they may be giving money in the hope that if the political party wins, then they will be favoured. That amounts to corruption,” he said.

“So it’s very difficult to determine when a gift is corrupt or not,” he said, adding that this was why the government would be looking at other countries’ practices for political funding.

“So we are going to formulate a law for the financing of political parties which will not involve giving favours to the donor,” he later said after highlighting the contrasting models of Germany and US.

Malaysia does not have a law on political funding yet, although it was studied during the previous administration under Barisan Nasional (BN).

Last September, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Paul Low said the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Act would not be tabled in Parliament before the 14th general elections, but expressed confidence that it would be approved before the 15th general elections.

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