PETALING JAYA: Analysts have urged the government to table a bill on political financing this year to prevent corruption and abuse of power in Pakatan Harapan (PH), accusations of which had plagued the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration before it.
Political geo-strategist Azmi Hassan, from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said it was difficult to keep politicians away from power abuse as the division heads of any political party needed money to carry out community-based activities.
“It is a form of corruption for division heads to get government contracts. To stop PH from becoming another Umno, the government should push for a bill on political financing so that funding can be lawfully done,” he told FMT.
This follows the suggestion by PPBM vice-president Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman at the party’s recent annual general meeting that PPBM use its position to channel resources and projects to division chiefs so they could win elections “by hook or by crook”.
Azmi suggested that PH form a committee to study political funding practices around the world.
He gave the example of the US’ Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act 1946 under which a company declares its donations to political parties in order to get a contract in return.
“Lobbyists have to declare they are contributing something to get something in return. It is done in the open and everyone is aware of it.”
He said countries like Germany and Singapore also had good political funding mechanisms through which citizens and corporations donate to the party of their choice.
In Germany, he said, money is given based on the number of seats a party holds.
“But usually that is only a small part of the funding. A major portion of it comes from individuals and corporations, and it is done according to the law.”
In Singapore, Azmi said, the contribution limit is S$5,000 and contributors’ names appear in the party’s report if they donate beyond this amount. The same policy goes for corporations donating to political parties.
But in Malaysia, no one knows who is donating or if they are getting any favours in return, he said.
In 2009, the BN government commissioned a committee to look into a proposed bill, but nothing came of it until 2016 when the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing came out with 32 recommendations to address the lack of laws on political funding.
A Political Financing Control Act was also part of the PH manifesto to introduce transparency in political financing.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Jeniri Amir said party division chiefs were likely to ask for government contracts if there was no proper political financing bill to prevent them from such unethical acts.
“If PPBM were to eventually follow Umno or BN, there would be no difference in changing the government as cronyism and nepotism would be back in the picture.”
He too urged PH to table a political financing bill in Parliament this year, reminding the coalition of its assurance that it would not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration.