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Audit of political funds: It’s still only talk

 | June 29, 2012

Only self-regulation for now, says Pemandu.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s assurance that the government would regulate the funding of political parties appears to be a lot of talk and not much else—at least for now.

According to Putrajaya’s efficiency unit Pemandu, the proposal is still at the discussion stage. Pemandu’s anti-corruption chief, Ravindran Devagunam, who disclosed this to reporters today, did not indicate when the discussion would end.

He said that at present political funding could be controlled only by the political organisations themselves.

Najib announced last February that the government would “soon” require all forms of funding for any political organisation to be channelled through an official party account. The move, recommended by the MACC advisory panel, was to be made under the Government Transformation Programme.

Observers noted that the absence of a legally-binding policy meant political parties could still abuse political donations and stall efforts to curb money politics.

Ravindran said it would be ideal to have a law requiring political parties to make the finances public.

“We are hoping to incorporate it into the Societies Act,” he told a press briefing on the MACC’s 2011 annual report.

So far only one party, the MIC, has announced that it would openly audit its finances.

Najib’s proposal came amid a slew of political reform announcements seen as an election push as he faces the tough task of improving upon BN’s dismal performance in the 2008 general election.

Ravindran’s revelation today means it is uncertain if Najib intends to implement the policy before he calls for elections, which must be held by next year.

But the Pemandu officer said he saw the idea as a step forward in the fight against graft.


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