PETALING JAYA: The three local non-governmental organisations accused by an Australian-based think tank of having “extremely low levels of transparency” said that they submit their annual reports and accounts to the Registrar of Societies as required by the law.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), Third World Network (TWN) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) said this included disclosing their funding sources to the Government every year.
“In all the work that has been done by CAP, SAM and TWN, we have always complied with the requirements of the law and exercised transparency, and we are accountable to the public and communities whose rights and interests we work to protect,
“Hence, there is no secrecy involved in who finances the NGOs,” CAP, TWN and SAM spokesman S.M. Mohamed Idris said yesterday.
Mohamed Idris, who is CAP and SAM president and also TWN chairman, was responding to press reports quoting the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) as saying that the NGOs had “extremely low levels of transparency” regarding their foreign funding.
The three are registered as societies under the Societies Act 1966, and are required by law to submit to the Registrar an annual report which includes among others the description of any financial contribution from any party outside Malaysia.
The Act does not require for this information to be made public.
It also stipulates that the Registrar may at any time ask for that information in writing, and may also at any time prohibit a society from having any connection with any party outside Malaysia if it was in the public's interest.
IPA executive director Dr Mike Nahan had said NGOs needed to be accountable and transparent about their funding sources, charging that those who received foreign funding could likely be the mouthpieces of these Western groups rather than representing the interests of Malaysians.
“Our research is conducted scientifically and the findings openly published. We have nothing to hide,'' Mohamed Idris said.
“It is our responsibility to raise these concerns and inform the public about these issues,'' he said, adding that this work was independent of funders.
He claimed that the IPA's repeated allegations against CAP, TWN and SAM were motivated by big industry interests which funded the think tank, and were suspect because Dr Nahan was publicising old information that he had raised before.