NGO coalition demands reform to fight money politics

.A coalition of non-governmental organisations wants a reform on how political parties and their campaigns are financed, following revelations by a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on how funds were moved to fund the last general election.

 

In a statement today, the Giat (Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency) coalition called for immediate reform to the way political parties and their election campaigns are financed and transparency in the personal accounts of politicians.

The group wanted an immediate adoption of a political financing and asset declaration act, and all members of the executive and legislative body including senators and senior public officials, to declare their assets publicly.

It also called for the reformation of the Elections Commission to autonomously and independently regulate all political parties.

Other priorities are to have a public release of political party accounts audited by an independent party, and a full disclosure of political party and candidate financing.

Giat said those were the recommendations made in a report by Transparency International Malaysia and a policy brief by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs on asset declarations back in 2005.

GIAT, which includes Transparency International Malaysia, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), Citizen’s Network for a Better Malaysia (CNBM), Friends of Kota Damansara, Sinar Project and The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) believe that the Malaysian government must enact these reforms now or lose its credibility.

“The controversies over alleged corruption cases in GLICs and GLCs involving billions of ringgit used to fund political parties have a direct impact on our country’s economic health both short term and long term.

“Most importantly, it is a gross abuse of trust from the rakyat, money that could have been used to provide better healthcare and public services for all Malaysians may have potentially been wasted for personal gain,” the coalition said.

The Wall Street Journal in a report last month alleged that Genting Plantations had donated US$10 million to a charity organisation called Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, which was then used to bankroll the 13th general election.

The donation was allegedly made after debt-ridden state investment arm 1MDB paid above market rates to purchase a power plant from Genting Group at RM2.3 billion.

Last Thursday, WSJ in a report alleged that as much as US$700 million had been channelled directly into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts.

The business daily reported that this was discovered by government investigators probing a state investment arm.

Giat said the news was deeply shocking and appalling; and if true, this incident was symptom of a larger problem at hand.

“Corruption in Malaysia now no longer involves abuse of entrusted power by one person but also involves a group colluding for collective gain across political, economic, and social spheres in Malaysia as well as foreign parties.

“It may take years to recover the potential debts incurred, which affects all Malaysians.”

Najib and his office have since denied the allegations, calling it a political sabotage and blaming it on former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Najib is also mulling over a suit against WSJ over the report. – July 7, 2015.8

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