Report: MPs to meet with Azalina on proposed political financing Bill, Wong Chen says

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Members of parliament will seek to discuss issues with the government such as who can provide political funding to political parties and limits on the funding amounts under a proposed political financing law for Malaysia, a report has said.

Wong Chen, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia (APPGM) on political financing, was reported saying that these issues were expected to be raised during a meeting this week between minister in charge of law and institutional reform Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and the Special Select Committee on Human Rights, Election and Institutional Reform which is chaired by Selayang MP William Leong.

Local daily Utusan Malaysia cited Wong in saying such issues were important as there would be no political influence if the political funding is not in large amounts.

“The draft that we have proposed is already completed, just that our version and the government’s version will meet at the halfway point and exchange views,” he was quoted saying yesterday in Utusan Malaysia’s report published today, noting that the APPGM group only acts as an adviser on this.

Utusan Malaysia also reported Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia (APPGM) on Integrity, Governance and Anti-Corruption (IGAR), as saying that it would take time to make changes to the political culture in Malaysia which is based on donation of funds.

Syed Ibrahim reportedly said that there may be some political parties and some parties’ members who do not agree with such laws on political financing and said this is why MPs must have political will if such a law is to be implemented.

Yesterday, Wong on Facebook wrote that officials from the Law Ministry and the attorney general’s office had attended a Thursday meeting with MPs on the draft Political Financing Act, noting that he was invited by Leong to present APPGM’s views and that Syed Ibrahim also presented his views.

“I am happy to state that we are finally getting some real traction on this matter and if we continue this momentum under the leadership of YB William, we may see the passing of a political financing act this year!” Wong had said in his Facebook post.

In May last year, Wong who is also Subang MP had said the Political Financing Bill should include state funding — where the government provides funds to political parties — in order to avoid corruption as individuals with honorary titles — like “Datuk Seri, Tan Sri, Tun” — would otherwise be making donations to political parties.

Wong had at that time urged the government to expedite the Political Financing Bill’s tabling in Parliament to enable it to become law and to be implemented in the next general elections. The 16th general election is due to be held in 2027 but can be held earlier.

On June 22, 2023, the Prime Minister’s Department’s Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) had listed six legal reforms that were carried out within six months of the new government stepping in, and had also listed a policy paper on the proposed political financing law as being one of the reform agendas being considered.

On September 18, 2023, Azalina had during the special meeting on the mid-term review of the 12th Malaysia Plan at the Dewan Rakyat said that the Cabinet had on September 8, 2023 agreed on the scope of policy for the Political Financing Bill to be referred to the Special Select Committee on Human Rights, Election and Institutional Reform, and that her application for such a referral had been sent to the Dewan Rakyat speaker on September 13 for consideration.

Azalina had listed the seven policy considerations regarding the proposed new law as including the establishing of new laws to regulate political financing; the regulatory role to be performed by a federal statutory body as an independent and impartial entity; enabling the control of political financing at all times and not only during elections; regulating political financing received by political parties, political parties’ members, election candidates including independent candidates and election agents.

The other policy considerations listed by Azalina are for political financing in any form from foreign entities to be disallowed; a determination of the amount of financing allowed and which must be declared by political parties or politicians; and for political financing received by political parties, political parties’ members or independent election candidates to be deposited into a special account that is created only for political financing.

Azalina had said the federal government remains committed to ensuring political financing is controlled with the appropriate parameters to ensure transparency in political financing for the benefit of Malaysians.