KUALA LUMPUR: The coalition for Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency (GIAT) said today that there was an urgent need for reform in how political parties and election campaigns are financed in Malaysia. It also called for greater transparency in the personal accounts of politicians.
GIAT called for immediate action by the Malaysian government on reforms called for in a 2005 report on asset declarations by Transparency International Malaysia as well as a policy brief by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.
GIAT urged the government to immediately implement the following recommendations called for in the 2005 report:
- Adoption of a political financing and asset declaration act
- Public asset declarations of all members of the executive and legislative body including Senators and senior public officials
- Reform of the Election Commission so that regulation of political parties could be carried out in an autonomous and independent fashion
- Public release of political party accounts audited by an independent party
- Full disclosure of political party and candidate financing.
GIAT went on to warn that failure to implement these reforms could lead to a loss of credibility for the Malaysian government which was already feeling the effects of recent revelations by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that as much as US$700 million had been channeled directly to the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank accounts.
It went on to note that the alleged corruption had a direct impact on the country’s economic health ─ monies that should have been allocated for the provision of better services for all Malaysians had instead been used for personal gain.
GIAT characterized this as a gross abuse of trust adding that corruption in Malaysia had now reached a different level.
No longer was it the abuse of power by one person. Instead, the current case points to a group colluding across political, economic, and social spheres for collective gain.
GIAT added that it may take years to recover from the scandal Malaysia now finds itself mired in..
GIAT comprises the following entities – 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).