Opposition funding freeze: Bersih, Ideas demand equal distribution for all MPs

29 Nov 2023 10:39am
Anwar. Bernama FILE PIX
Anwar. Bernama FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - In a response to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's recent statement regarding the allocation of funds to opposition parliamentarians, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) have called for a fair and equal distribution of development funds.

Anwar, during his closing speech at the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Congress, declared that the unity government would not allocate funds to opposition MPs, a statement that has drawn criticism.

“Bersih and Ideas once again urge the unity government led by PMX (Anwar), with their Madani slogan, to truly interpret this Madani concept by providing equal constituency development fund (CDF) allocations to all parliamentarians, regardless of their support for the government or being in opposition.

“CDF allocations should be given to all parliamentarians, not just those from the government, as all parliamentarians have been elected by the people in their respective constituencies,” it said in a joint press statement recently.

The coalition pointed out that such a stance indicates a lack of political interest and commitment to providing an equitable political landscape for all parliamentarians.

“The Unity Government should be more reformist and progressive by enshrining the allocation of CDF to parliamentarians as law to prevent its misuse as a reward to influence any parliamentarian to support the government, as is happening today with four Members of Parliament from Bersatu expressing support for the Madani government.

“This legislation is also crucial to determine how CDF is allocated and oversee how these funds are transparently spent,” the statement read.

Bersih and Ideas believe that if the allocation was truly intended for the people's development as stated by Anwar, it should not be given exclusively to government parliamentarians.

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In the medium to long term, CDF allocations to assist the people should be directly given to local governments elected through elections and legally supervised to ensure transparent allocation with mechanisms for oversight, it said.

“MPs should only receive allocations to oversee their service centres and carry out genuine work such as policy research and legislation to be proposed and debated in Parliament.

“The allocation to MPs' service centres should be regulated through the Parliament Service Act. In addition to service center allocations, public funding for political parties can also be based on the percentage of votes received by the political party in the previous general election to fund their campaigns and political activities, regulated through the Political Funding Act,” it said.

Bersih and Ideas added that Federal Government and the opposition from the Perikatan Nasional (PN) should engage in discussions to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the reform of institutions that promise political stability and a level playing field for all parties, similar to the agreement between the Keluarga Malaysia government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Sept 13, 2021.

Any discussions or plots to overthrow the Federal Government in the middle of its term should be stopped, and focus should be prioritised on the country facing the increasingly challenging economic and geopolitical realities, the coalition said.

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