‘Cabinet has to agree first on political funding law’

ANY new policy changes with regard to the proposed law on political funding needs to be agreed upon by the Cabinet, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic).

“The government is committed to preventing bribery and money politics.

“Owing to the political developments post-GE15, the political landscape of Malaysia underwent changes, which included the formation of new political coalitions.

“Thus, there must be ongoing engagements with political parties and stakeholders to ensure that the Bill, which is to be enacted, is inclusive and comprehensive,” the Minister in charge of Law and Institutional Reforms said in a written reply to Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muda-Muar).

On Sept 7 last year, the former Ismail Sabri administration agreed in principle to a law on political funding when the Political Funding Bill was presented to the Cabinet.

Although a political funding law was first mooted in 2016 by the then National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, it faced resistance from several quarters, including Pakatan Harapan.

The committee came up with 32 recommendations to address the lack of laws on transparent political funding, including the creation of an Office of the Controller of Political Donations and a ban on cash donations from foreign sources.However, the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Act did not make it to Parliament before the 14th General Election in 2018.

In 2019, the Pakatan administration said it intended to table a law on political funding, but could not do so after the government collapsed in February 2020.

Meanwhile, Azalina said the proposed Political Funding Bill would be brought before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee before being tabled in Parliament.

This will allow MPs to put forward their views and proposals so that all crucial aspects are considered.

Apart from this, she said the proposed law has to take into account the practices and legal aspects of current laws on corruption, elections, money laundering, as well as associations.

On another matter, she said the Attorney General’s Chambers had not received any confirmation on whether SRC International Sdn Bhd (SRC) funds worth US$1.2bil (RM5.36bil) were currently frozen by the Swiss government.

“The government, through 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), however, is working to retrieve assets whether they are in Switzerland or other involved countries,” she told Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

Dr Wee had asked whether the government planned to retrieve the SRC funds frozen by the Swiss government.

In 2021, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence team in his SRC trial had said that Najib and the Finance Ministry had made proper efforts to investigate and retrieve SRC International’s funds that were frozen there.

In 2022, Najib was sentenced by the High Court to 12 years in prison and fined RM210mil for seven charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving RM42mil of SRC funds.

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