FOR many years, we have been told that there were plans underway to introduce a law on political funding to provide greater transparency among political parties and politicians.
The governments and Oppositions of the day (yes, plural, as we have had many changes in the corridors of power) have all promised us that. Yet, to this day, the political funding Bill has yet to be tabled in Parliament.
Very obviously, there is a lack of political will to implement this on both sides of the political divide.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on political funding has put forward its recommendations. In fact, the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing submitted its findings on the Political Donations and Expenditure Act back in 2016.
This committee was chaired by then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan. I remember this vividly as I was a member of that committee, which included many distinguished people such as Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Syed Saddiq Syed Rahman.
The draft of the Act was then completed in 2017, as correctly pointed out by Umno secretary- general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan recently.
We need to have a transparent political funding system to mitigate elements of money laundering, foreign interference and security risks. If we go by standards in developed democracies, proper guidelines on political contributions need to be drawn up, especially public disclosure of sources and how the money is used.
Political donations are a gift. Receiving political donations is not against the law per se. It only becomes illegal gratification when it involves abuses of power or conflicts of interest.
All sectors involving money in the country are regulated except for political donations. Hence, I am of the view that all reasons objecting to and delaying the introduction of this Act are self-serving. No one is above the law, let alone lawmakers.
It is with utmost urgency that we must stop delaying this Bill from being tabled and passed in Parliament, especially with the 15th General Election around the corner.
GAN PING SIEU
Centre for A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet)
Cenbet is a civil society organisation that promotes moderation and good governance to build a better tomorrow.