PRESS STATEMENT, Kuala Lumpur – Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) released the findings of the Malaysian Corruption Barometer (MCB) 2014, which surveyed the public’s experiences and views on corruption and their willingness to combat the issue. The MCB 2014 survey found that 45% of 2,032 Malaysian respondents ranked political parties as the most corrupt among top 6 key institutions in Malaysia. The police still scored a close second (42%), followed by public officials/civil servants (31%), judiciary (24%), parliament/legislature (23%), and business/private sector (23%).
TI-M strongly urges for laws governing political parties to be reformed immediately, especially in the area of political financing. With political parties being perceived as the institution/organisation worst affected by corruption based on MCB 2014, it is necessary for the Federal Government and all State Governments to ensure controlled and transparent political financing expenditure for campaigning in both the general elections, including by-elections, and even party elections. This is to curb corruption practised within political parties as well as in this country.
Such measures can be implemented immediately for both the Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan parliamentary by-elections which polling dates are May 25 and May 31 respectively. Money politics must be stopped. If our politicians, both in the government and in the opposition, are really sincere about eradicating corruption, they should come to an agreement to reduce expenditure incurred in the upcoming by-elections.
Our concern is also about the use and wastage of public funds if political parties still keep spending their money in the political campaigns through banners, posters, flags, presents, sponsorships and other promotional items. TI-M suggests that political parties should set proper limits or keeping election expenditure to a minimum to prevent corruption and misuse of funds.
The Election Offences Act 1954 provides for the submission of statements of expenditure by political parties and candidates. But the Election Commission (EC) does not have strong mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the funding processes during elections.
TI-M urges the government to regulate financing for all political parties where all forms of contributions and funding must be channelled to an official party account and not into political candidates’ personal bank accounts. This ensures transparency and avoids politicians misusing the name of a political party to ask or receive any contributions for personal gain.
It is equally important that election expenses of political parties and candidates are independently audited by certified auditors before submission to the EC and that disclosure is made of all sources
of financing and expenditure by all political parties. The EC can also initiate reform in this area by setting limits on candidates’ and political parties’ expenditures based on the geographical area of
the constituency and size of the electorate. This will help prevent or reduce disproportionate spending.
At the same time, the EC must act not only to regulate expenditure incurred between nomination day and polling day to reflect all expenses incurred for general and by-elections but also to impose
expenditure limits on the electoral activities of political parties and candidates.
It is sad when political parties, including the opposition, being the driving force of democracy, are perceived to be corrupt institutions. Politicians from both sides of the divide who demand greater accountability and transparency are perceived to be corrupt themselves according to the results of MCB 2014. TI-M calls for all political parties to lead by example if they are serious and sincere in
fighting corruption. Integrity and trust must be the founding principles of public institutions, especially political parties.
Issued by :
Dato’ Akhbar Satar, President
Transparency International Malaysia Mobile: 017-256 0811