Govt speeds up drafting of new law

Taking the floor: Wan Junaidi speaking at the Dewan Negara at the Parliament Building. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: With the Political Funding Bill targeted for tabling in Parliament in October, work is now afoot to expedite the drafting of the new law.

The government has tasked the National Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) with spearheading the drafting of the Bill’s policies without delay.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the draft needs to be prepared as soon as possible so that engagement sessions with stakeholders can be held according to the timeline that will be set by GIACC.

“To show transparency and accountability in political governance, it is pertinent that this law is implemented immediately,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Wan Junaidi said a memorandum is expected to be presented at the Cabinet meeting in September, which would enable the Political Funding Bill to be presented at the next Parliament meeting in October.

He also said he had conducted a meeting with GIACC, the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU), Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Registrar of Societies (ROS) and Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) to discuss matters related to the Bill.

Among the important policy matters raised were the establishment of an entity to regulate political funding, authorising political contributors, and setting penalties for offences under the proposed law, he said.

“GIACC has been instructed to refine these policy matters, while BHEUU and AGC have been tasked with preparing an administrative draft taking into account the views and examples given by civil society groups and non-governmental organisations.

“A comparative analysis on the use of similar laws in other countries must also be prepared so that we can set a benchmark on this proposed legislation.

“This law must also be aligned with existing ones under the ROS and CCM,” said Wan Junaidi.

Following the successful passing of the Anti-Party Hopping Bill in Parliament recently, the government is now focusing on the Political Funding Bill in the next meeting, apart from Budget 2023 and the “generational end game” anti-smoking Bill.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently reaffirmed the government’s commitment to tabling the Political Funding Bill.

Calls by civil society for laws on political funding have also grown louder in recent months, particularly in light of several high-profile court cases linked to “political donations”.

The government had drafted the Political Donations and Expenditure Act in 2016, but it did not make it to Parliament before the 14th General Election in 2018.

In 2019, the Pakatan Harapan administration intended to table laws on political funding but was unable to do so after it collapsed in February the following year.

Currently, there are no laws to regulate and monitor political funds, although there are limits on campaign spending – RM200,000 for federal and RM100,000 for state elections.

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