Urgent need for Political Funding Act to ensure transparency, accountability in politics
SHAH ALAM - The time has come for the Political Financing Act which is long overdue to be introduced.
Political economy expert Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez said talks about political reforms have been going on since 2009 and there were opportunities to introduce the Political Financing Act, but it did not happen.
He noted that in 2007, there were campaigns held by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) with the opposition party being a part of the campaign.
They had asked for among others to bring an end to money politics.
“These were issue discussed way back in 2009 and we had the opportunity to introduce the act but we didn’t do it and it led to the monumental scam (which was) the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal and Malaysia came to be known as a kleptocracy.
“Did we learn a lesson from what happened? No, I’m afraid we didn’t.
“Even when Pakatan Harapan came into power for two years, they talked about introducing the reform of political financing, but still, it did not happen,” he said during Sinar Daily's Wacana programme entitled “Malaysia 2022: Braving Chaos and Disaster”.
He said there was a need to level the political plainfield to ensure transparency and accountability on how parties get the funds and to ensure that when they enter the political arena, they would have sufficient funds to compete fairly.
This, he said was what the law was all about.
He added that the existing financing system was so covert that no one has a clue where the money was coming from.
Gomez said in 2013, there was a stupendous amount of money spent for the General Election and people were wondering where the amount came from.
Two years later in 2015, the 1MDB scandal happened.
“1MDB indicated to us two very important things. First, 1MDB is a government-linked company (GLC) and GLC was a system through which you can get money out of the government through the GLC system and channel it into the hands of politicians who sat as directors,” he said.
He pointed out that recently, just before the 15th General Election (GE15), the introduction of the political financing law was being talked about as the situation was really serious.
He said the new government should have the law in place since the nation will go through state elections in another six months.
He said the act was presented by various parties back in 2009 but it was binded by former prime minister and former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
"We have been talking about political reforms since 2009, but when Najib came into power, he quickly binded it because he realised it was not in the interest of Umno to have a Political Financing Act.
"So we lost the possibility of not having the act and in 2013, we saw the volume of money used in the election was huge and we even wondered where this amount of money came from,” he said.