Local Politics

Opposition leaders hesitant to make funding transparent

Pol Fund TC NGEH

Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – August 6, 2015: Despite calling for Barisan Nasional to be transparent about its funding, opposition leaders were mostly reluctant to agree with a proposal by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that all political parties should declare their source of funds to ensure transparency.

Najib had recently reiterated the proposal in support of a suggestion made in 2010 by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to promote transparency in political funding.

DAP deputy secretary-general Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham when contacted said his party was not ready to disclose details of its funding.

His excuse was that the government has yet to indicate its “real commitment” to be fair in dealing with opposition parties.

“If there is a specific Act in place that would charge the government if it goes after our donors, then it would be considered.

“We cannot be too naive and simply disclose our funding,” he said.

To illustrate his excuse of the alleged government’s unfairness, Ngeh pointed to the crackdown on MACC officials involved in the ongoing probe on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

MACC director (special operation) Datuk Bahri Mohamad Zin was questioned by police on Saturday.

The police had also raided the house and office of Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairi, a deputy public prosecutor seconded to the MACC, in connection with the 1MDB probe.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim today explained that investigation involving MACC officials was focused on “leakage of information” and not interfering with 1MDB probe.

On Saturday, Najib who is also the Umno president said there should be regulations requiring political parties to divulge the sources of their political funds.

“I can explain (the sources of Umno funds), on condition that the opposition parties also explain the sources of their funds,” said Najib.

MACC on Monday confirmed that the 1MDB probe had discovered the sum of RM2.6 billion wired into Najib’s personal account was from donors in the Middle East and not the state-owned strategic investment company.

The money was believed meant for BN’s use, including for the  campaign in the last general election in 2013.

Following the revelation, DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua had demanded for Najib to reveal the sources of Umno’s fund.

On this, Ngeh told The Mole that the reason DAP made such a demand was because the amount of money was ‘beyond normal rate’.

“When such a large amount is said to be used for election’s campaign, people would presume that there is some sort of corruption going on.

“Furthermore, all donations and funding given to a party should be declared to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) on yearly basis, but in this case, even the ousted deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was not aware of the money’s existence.

“This means that RoS too was not made aware of this RM2.6 billion funding,” he said.

PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang was also of the opinion that Najib’s motion was redundant.

“There is already a mechanism that requires political parties to declare our funding for general elections.

“Election Commission has made it a requirement for each party to declare its expenditure in every general election,” he said.

Chua was however reported by an English daily to have rejected MACC’s proposal for all political parties to reveal their funding details during a meeting with Transparency International-Malaysia in 2010.

He was reported in the minutes of the meeting to have said that he ‘feared that full disclosure would hurt their contributors and consequently the financing for the opposition’.

He claimed that ‘the donors might be prosecuted by the winning coalition for supporting the losing coalition in any general election and it would result in a substantial decline of income source for the losing coalition.’

Declining to comment further on the matter, Chua instead urged for Najib to stop trying to divert public’s attention from the real issue, which is the RM2.6 billion that was in his personal account.

“If the money was indeed for BN’s general election campaign as claimed, why was the money not deposited into the coalition’s account instead?

“By disclosing that RM2.6 billion had indeed been siphoned to the prime minister’s account; the MACC indirectly suggested there was an element of bribery involved.

“I am not saying that no donation is allowed in any political party. However, if the money is wired into Najib’s account, it can be considered as bribery. Had the money been deposited into BN’s account, it would have been treated as donation,” he said.

PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali was however reported to have reacted positively to the proposal by Najib.

Azmin told a news portal that the process to create the law which requires political parties to disclose their funding should be discussed in Parliament.

“We are ready to have a clear provision for that purpose and it should be discussed in parliament,” he said yesterday.

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About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.