TI-M: Urgent need for political financing reforms

Police seen during a search of Najib Razak’s house. The raids on his residences eventually turned up RM114 million in cash.

KUALA LUMPUR: Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has called for urgent political financing reforms in the wake of a “staggering” amount of money found in former prime minister Najib Razak’s house, and Umno’s claim that it was part of the party’s campaign funds.

Saying corruption and unregulated donations were influencing politics and undermining the integrity of elections, TI-M president Akhbar Satar urged the government to introduce laws making it compulsory for political parties to disclose their sources of financing and expenditure.

In a statement, he said all forms of contributions and funding must be channelled to an official party account and not into political candidates’ personal bank accounts.

“The financing of politics has to be published in a proper independent audited financial report every year, fully disclosed publicly and made subject to effective governmental and social oversight mechanisms.

“Such reforms will continue to increase the public’s trust in democracy and political parties by promoting transparency and accountability in political financing.”

He noted that the RM2.6 billion “donation” channelled to Najib’s personal bank account had ignited a debate on political funding, and that the recent raid on Najib’s family residences found a “staggering RM114 million cash and some RM200 million in jewellery”.

Now, he said, Umno was claiming that some of the money seized by the police was part of the party’s campaign funds.

He said TI-M was encouraged by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s request to all Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties to get Cabinet approval for any political donation.

He said despite the National Consultative Committee on Political Funding (NCCPF) being formed in 2015, and a Political Donation and Expenditure Act recommended by the committee, the NCCPF’s recommendations had yet to be translated into legislation as there was no political will to do so before the 14th general election.

He reminded PH of its “Promise 18” in its manifesto to create a political financing mechanism with integrity.

“We understand that the new PH government will progressively take necessary steps to implement all the proposed reforms as embodied in the Buku Harapan manifesto.

“We hope that this particular reform will take priority. There is clearly an urgent need to better control political financing,” he said.

RM114 million worth of cash in 35 bags from KL condo, say police