Act now to curb political wealth, says tycoon Lee

Businessman Lee Kim Yew has called for a new law on financing of political parties.

BANGI: Tycoon Lee Kim Yew today urged the government to table a new act to combat corruption, particularly to monitor political funding.

Lee said a new law was one way the government could curb corruption if it was serious in building a better nation after the 14th general election.

Under this new law, all political parties would be subjected to an audit by the Auditor-General every two years.

“If your assets and wealth are more than RM300 million, anything above that, you must surrender it back to the country,” he said. “Because if you look at Umno and MCA, look at the wealth they have.”

The government must also put a stop to politicians using their public position to gain wealth, he said.

“When they make use of their public position, their party get all kinds of licenses to accumulate wealth,” he said.

“That is why they say, the government’s only business is governing the country and not to do business. If you want to be very rich, like me, don’t be a politician, be a businessman.”

Lee said political parties in power had an easy path towards acquiring wealth.

“Sometimes we have a non-governmental organisation trying to do good work and charity, but it is so difficult for them to raise a few million. “But these political parties, they are so ugly. The structure is set (so that) they can raise a few billions.”

Lee took MCA as an example, pointing out that he was still a member of the party. “How many billions do they have? The party’s asset holding is so huge,” he said during an interview after the Jalur Gemilang and Aspirasi Rakyat forum, which he attended as an honorary member of the National Patriots Association.

Lee said politicians only needed whatever amount was set by the Election Commission as the limit on spending for an election campaign.

“We have 222 parliamentary seats, if for every seat, if the Election Commission set that they can only spend RM200,000, that is the only money you need.,” he said.

He recalled the stern practices of the late Tan Siew Sin, a founder of MCA who was the country’s first Minister of Commerce and Industry, and then Finance Minister for 15 years.

He related how Tan sent back a fountain pen that he had mistakenly taken from the office.

“I hold to that principle very closely, that when you become a government servant, within your party, you only do your party work. Those who have taken government office, you should not use your position to do political work,” he said.

He also pointed out that government servants drew a salary paid by all taxpayers, and should be ‘colour blind’.

“If you correct these two (malpractices), you will be able to rebuild the nation,” he said.

The government, he said, must take up the two principles to show that they are serious in curbing corruption.

“The economy and education are important, but the people may not vote for you only for the economy, they want the country to be corruption free,” he added.

Corruption must be eliminated quickly. “Otherwise, when the economy recovers, there will be 10 more Najibs  to take money away from the people. What is the point then of building the economy?” he asked.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently said the government may introduce a new law on political funding.