Be accountable in development funds distribution, Maria Chin says
SHAH ALAM - Development funds are provided to elected representatives to enable people to hold them accountable, says former Petaling Jaya Member of Parliament and human rights activist.
Maria Chin Abdullah said that the reason development funds were given to elected representatives was to allow people to hold them accountable, and if they failed to deliver, they would not be voted in again.
"In other countries like Germany, Nordic countries, or even the US, funds are channelled to political parties based on the votes on or gained.
"This is another way to hold political parties accountable, but it must be accompanied by a clear Political Parties Act.
"If funds are given to representatives or coordinators of the State Assembly or Parliament, how will the people hold them accountable as they are unelected?" Maria told Sinar Daily when contacted.
However, while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim rightly pointed out that the funds were for the people, the discrepancy was that funds were given to those who supported the unity government, leaving opposition constituencies without access to such funds.
Maria said if they wanted to hold opposition and unity government MPs and state assemblies accountable and prevent the misuse of funds, strict accountability procedures could be set and must apply to all.
"There can be many check-and-balance mechanisms that can be set up.
"To ensure that elected representatives spend on the people and do not abuse the funds, an auditing system can be established, and staggered payments to elected representatives can be implemented.
"Conditions can be set so that they submit full accounts and written reports before the next tranche is given out," she said.
Meanwhile, Maria said audits needed to be carried out with the elected representatives as well as with contractors to set higher standards of work quality.
Another issue with development funds was that Maria did not think MPs or State Assemblies needed to get funds for infrastructure, as each parliament or state assembly has a council.
"We need to seriously hold councils to a higher standard to deliver services and weed out non-performance.
"Such funds can be channelled to the councils, but very strict criteria need to be set with the councils so that services are delivered to the people.
"It is not the job of State Assemblies or MPs to finance road or drain repairs, pay for school repairs, and many others," she said.
Therefore, Maria added development funds could only be used to support the operations of the office and for substantive programs that brought knowledge, skills, and services to all citizens and not just supporters.
Previously, 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.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) had since called for a fair and equal distribution of development funds.