No more ‘stacks of cash’

PUTRAJAYA: There will be no more unaccounted “stacks of cash” by politicians once laws on political funding are in place, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic).

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Parliament and Law said the idea of having a law to regulate political contributions was to ensure transparency and accountability of political parties.

“There will be more transparency under the proposed political funding law.

“There will be no more stacks of cash in the cellars or tunnels once we have the law on political funding,” he told reporters in a media interview on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: Move to table political funding law praised

He said the government was fast-tracking the proposed law so that it could be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat when Parliament convened on Oct 26.

“We have fixed a timeline to fast-track the process. We target the first reading of the Bill by the third week of October and for the second reading to be done three weeks later,” he added.

Wan Junaidi said this would allow MPs, who were not included during the engagement process, to give their feedback before the second reading of the Bill.

He said the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-corruption (GIACC), which had conducted work on political funding laws in 2016, was tasked with spearheading the Bill’s policy drafting without delay.

Although still at the preliminary policy stage, Wan Junaidi stated that several proposals on how the law should be implemented were being considered.

“There are suggestions that the government create a political fund to be used by political parties.

“For example, the fund is based on the assumption that RM50 is the amount set aside for a voter, and there are about 18 million voters in the country.

“So the government will have to contribute the total amount towards the creation of this fund,” he said.

He also said it had yet to be decided who would be responsible for managing political funds.

He said it was initially proposed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) manage the political funds, but the idea was then deemed unsuitable.

He said the second alternative was for the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to handle the funds, but this required approval from the Home Ministry.

“The third alternative is that a new entity such as a committee, board or commission be set up for the purpose,” he said.

Other proposals included government-linked companies or firms seeking government permits or contracts would also be barred from making donations, he added.

“This will cover companies involved in large government companies,” he said.

He also said a proposal suggested that foreign governments and non-government organisations should not be allowed to give money to political parties.

“The proposed laws will also include punishments against those flouting the law, such as an MP losing his seat and a by-election being held to fill the vacancy,” he said, adding that penalties would also be included for patrons of illegal political donations.

Asked if the law would be ready in time for the coming general election, Wan Junaidi said it would depend on when the polls were held.

“If there are no disruptions such as a dissolution of Parliament, we hope the Bill will become law during the budget session,” he said.

He added that if all goes as planned, the Bill could be enforceable by December after receiving royal consent and the date of enforcement.

However, he noted that the full implementation of the proposed law could take some time.

He said Britain took five years to pass political funding laws and another five years to implement the law.

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