Civil groups say insufficient to channel allocations through MoU, should enact laws to bind future govts

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Channelling allocations to the Opposition should be done through a Constituency Development Fund Act as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is an inadequate measure to bind future governments, think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) said today.

The two groups underscored that an Act of Parliament, as opposed to a MoU, would be able to ensure a clear, transparent, and fair distribution formula and establish an oversight committee composed of the government and the Opposition to ensure checks and balances within the system.

“IDEAS’ and Bersih’s research indicate that the constituency development fund system should be legislated through a Constituency Development Fund Act. It should be emphasised that an MoU, although necessary now, is not sufficient for the long term.

“The uncertainty in our political arena demands that all institutional reform initiatives be enshrined in law to bind future governments,” they said in a joint statement here.

The two groups also suggested that the Act could be drafted at the state level as negotiations between the government and the Opposition “seem to be more open.”

Nonetheless, IDEAS and Bersih commended the government for taking a positive step in maturing Malaysia’s democracy based on the concept of equality for duly elected representatives.

“Biasness in the distribution of allocations is an outdated political practice that needs to be stopped to ensure a more mature, competitive, and progressive political landscape.

“We hope that the drafting of a Constituency Development Fund Act in this parliamentary term will be one of the commitments of the government and the opposition in the forthcoming MoU negotiations to end discrimination against any potential opposition parties in the future,” they concluded.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof announced that the Unity Government Secretariat Supreme Leadership Council has agreed in principle to consider extending allocations to elected representatives from the opposition and an MoU will be drawn up and extended to the opposition for further discussions.

Fadillah, who is also the Energy Transition and Water Transformation minister, said this agreement was reached at the council’s meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, held at Sri Perdana in Putrajaya earlier this week.

In response, Perikatan Nasional (PN) said it welcomed the government's decision to allocate funds to elected representatives from the Opposition.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin however said that PN will decide on the matter after perusing the terms in the draft MoU being prepared by the government.