KUALA LUMPUR: An academician said money politics in party elections can influence decisions in making public policies that may affect Malaysians.
Universiti Malaya’s Prof Terence Gomez said politicians will pay to make their way into the political parties’ top leadership in their bid to secure positions in federal Cabinet or government-linked companies (GLCs).
He said Umno was the first political party to start this “culture” during its party elections over 30 years ago.
“Money politics started in Umno’s election in the early 1980s when the deputy president’s post was opened up to contest by the president, Dr Mahathir (Mohamad).
“It was well documented and Ku Li (Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah) used money in the party election to be Umno’s number two,” he said during a G25 forum on political financial reforms today.
Other speakers at the forum were PPBM Supreme Council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan, C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel, Penang Institute fellow Wong Chin Huat, and former finance ministry deputy secretary-general Ramon Navaratnam.
Recently, Mahathir, who returned as prime minister again after the 14th general election on May 9, said that the government was considering tabling political funding laws to stop corruption.
Gomez added money politics continued in the following Umno elections where candidates gave money to grassroots leaders to vote for top leaders.
“Politicians sit in GLCs, where these companies were given assets, while others enter the administration and make decisions on policies,” he said.
The lecturer, who has conducted research papers on political financing and has been pushing for laws to govern political funding, also said he met with a former minister to push for such laws in Parliament 10 years ago.
“The then opposition members refused to see me or other civil society groups, which were championing for the political financing law. This prompted me to go and meet this minister.
“I met him and explained to him my ideas. But he rejected my proposal, saying that he could not do it because his party will then lose power,” Gomez said.
He wants the practice of money politics to be a thing of the past.
He also warned of possible money politics in the coming PKR election.
“In the last party election, there were allegations of money politics.
“Hope we do not see this again in this party election next month,” Gomez said.
Before coming into power, Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives had resisted Barisan Nasional’s (BN) proposal to create political funding laws.
Some expressed distrust and fear that such laws might be used against them.