Politics

Foreign hand in Malaysian elections nothing new & there’s no law against it

"One of the most senior of them who’s now one of the people running the government said to me, ‘Gosh, IRI, you never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves’,” said IRI president Daniel Twinning.

"One of the most senior of them who’s now one of the people running the government said to me, ‘Gosh, IRI, you never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves’,” said IRI president Daniel Twinning.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – August 7, 2018: In what looks like a tit-for-tat but not by design, the Pakatan Harapan government has been implicated by a revelation that an American outfit had helped the coalition in its general elections campaign — and years before.

In fact the story says that the previous opposition alliance in Malaysia had help from the United States for a good 16 years!

The reactions started after the president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) Daniel Twinning earlier in the week told a forum in Washington that the institute’s investment had finally paid off when Pakatan won the elections and that this would benefit the US in terms of its rivalry with China.

Before this Pakatan had slayed the previous government over the letter sent to the Central Intelligence Agency just days before GE14 by the government’s intelligence agency, asking the CIA to support the government of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Though the stories about foreign interference may be shocking to some, neither side has violated the country’s laws, even if there is funding from a foreign power.

The reason, according to lawyer Fatihah Jamhari, is that Malaysia has no laws to deal with or curb and regulate political financing, which is one of the most preferred methods used by foreign agents to gain a foothold and influence in another country.

“They rig the whole public perception but they do it using legal means such as public demonstrations and speeches that incite hatred towards the government and Rulers. But there’s not much you can do about it,” said Fatihah.

The call to regulate political funding has been resurfacing over the past years, with the latest being the plan by the Barisan Nasional government last year but while Najib did say BN was ready to go ahead with it, surprisingly the idea was not supported by Pakatan.

In reaction to these stories, former Federal Territories Umno Youth chief Datuk Razlan Rafii said this was not surprising and that the party had been trying to tell Malaysians for years.

Adding that foreign help comes with strings attached, Razlan and Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan want the Pakatan government to come clean and inform Malaysians of the compromises attached to IRI’s help.

“Malaysians were previously told that BN had sold the country to foreigners. Now Pakatan needs to explain as Twinning’s statement tantamounts to a serious violation of the country’s sovereignty,” said Shahril.

The Civil and Human Rights Movement Malaysia (Charm) agrees and in a statement said it hopes the ruling government will ensure the transparency of future political funding.

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Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]