G70 coalition: Public debate needed to discuss political funding reform proposals

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 04 Oct 2016

PETALING JAYA: The G70 Coalition has commended some of the proposals outlined by the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, but have also identified three areas of concern.

Among the contentions of G25-led Coalition of 70 members for Political Financing Reforms is the proposal not to have limits on donations to and expenditure by parties.

"While we acknowledge that individuals and companies have the right to support political parties, this right cannot be to the detriment of the fundamental principle of creating a level playing field during elections," they said in a statement Tuesday.

The G70 viewed the proposal as an undermining of the reforms' primary objective, which is to stop the huge inflow of money into the Malaysian political system and during election campaigns and allowing for the rich elite to dominate election funding.

They also criticised the lack of institutional reforms proposed, apart from the setting up of an Office of Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure.

"We recognise that the Committee did state that the Cabinet's Terms of Reference to them did not include a review of the functioning of public institutions, such as the Election Commission (EC) and the Attorney-General's Chambers on matters involving federal and state elections and the prosecution of those who violate the relevant legislation," G70 conceded.

However, they said the Committee's recommendations could not be seen as a thorough reform of the monetisation of politics, unless the necessary institutional reforms are instituted.

The G70 also disagreed that full disclosure would contribute to fair elections, as it may hamper Opposition parties from securing donations from businesses unless proper institutional reforms are introduced.

"Adequate institutional safeguards must be introduced to ensure donors will not be harassed, even victimised. These issues involving institutional reforms and mechanisms to prevent the victimization of donors to Opposition parties have been addressed in the recommendations we submitted to the Government," they added.

The G70 said public debate is imperative to discuss issues in greater depth, and forwarded some proposals of their own.

"Since the drafting of the Committee's recommendations, as well as those that we prepared, was done without the participation of MPs and state assemblymen, this public debate must include politicians. Their views must now be heard before a new legislation is prepared on the financing of politics," they said.

The coalition also urged for the quickest possible implementation of submitted proposals that have reached common ground.

"Other proposals that require further debate should be given more thought and instituted when an agreement has been obtained by all parties," they added.

The National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, led by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator Datuk Paul Low, had released a 32-point recommendation for polls reform on Sept 30.

The Committee's recommendations will be submitted to the Cabinet in less than two weeks' time.

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