Electoral Reform Committee studies need for govt to fund political parties

Electoral Reform Committee chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman says out of 50 registered political parties, only 10 are active due to money woes.

PUTRAJAYA: The Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) is studying a proposal on whether the government should provide funding to political parties as is practised in most developed countries, said its chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

He said the proposal was one of the 16 components of the election improvement study by the ERC.

The committee will provide the best formula to ensure the assistance provided is fair, regardless of party affiliation, he told a media conference after gaining feedback from stakeholders for the improvement of the electoral system here today.

Rashid said currently there were about 50 registered political parties in the country but only 10 were active because of financial problems.

“When they send their annual reports (to the Registrar of Societies), they are revived, but they cannot function as they don’t have the money.”

He said the government could provide financial assistance to these political parties “because in a democracy, the presence of more political parties is always better”.

Rashid also acknowledged that there were no laws on media control during an election here, unlike those in other developed nations.

Rashid said the ERC’s interim report was expected to be handed over to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad within seven months, before being presented to the Cabinet.

“We hope that as many of our proposals would be accepted,” he said.

He also proposed that a full report of the election improvement survey be made public.

Rashid said feedback from stakeholders, including political parties, in several states, and online views from the public will continue to be gathered.

The ERC was set up by the government on Aug 28, 2018. It comprises 20 members drawn from various backgrounds and has been given two years to conduct an electoral improvement survey.