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Who is fearful of political funding law?

October 2, 2016

It is not the regulatory mechanism but the nightmare of its implementation that might affect the opposition given the uneven playing field in Malaysia.

COMMENT

p-ramasamy

By P Ramasamy

The necessity for a new law to regulate political funding to ensure transparency as well as fair and free elections cannot be disputed. However, a law on an important subject as political funding cannot be rushed through just because the agency entrusted with coming up with a proposal to the government, seems not to have done its homework.

Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomes such legislation but he blames the opposition for stalling its adoption for the fear it might weaken their support base amongst businessmen in the country.

However, it must be noted that the urgency for this legislation would not have come about without RM2.6 billion being deposited in Najib’s private accounts before the general election of 2013.

While the opposition may fear that those in control will abuse the proposed legislation, the government is more concerned about this regulatory exercise than the opposition.

There is no point for some members of the Consultative Committee to blame the opposition just because the government seems to be “guiding” them on a golden path of no return.

Given the lack of a level playing field in every aspect of Malaysian society, the opposition has every reason to believe that if legislation comes through on regulating political funding, it might be used against the opposition rather than against those in the political coalition of Barisan Nasional.

While big companies might not be supportive of the opposition, some middle-rank and smaller companies, having lost out their competitive edge, might be more inclined to provide for the opposition. If the government comes to know that these companies are providing funds, they might be punished.

Why the hurry in rushing through legislation when the committee has not even consulted the various political parties on both sides of the political divide?

One member of the committee even said recently that while the government was open, it was the opposition that was stalling the move.

The opposition has never opposed a legal mechanism for the regulation and control of political funding. It would be foolish and undemocratic to oppose such a move.

However the problem is not in the idea, but in the manner in which the whole exercise is being pushed through without proper consultation with members of the opposition. Just discussing the exercise with one or two members is not sufficient.

Again, it is not the regulatory mechanism but the nightmare of its implementation that might affect the opposition given the uneven playing field in Malaysia.

P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

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