TI-M warns against govt funding for Bersih

TI-M president Muhammad Mohan. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) said that it is not a good option for civil society groups to ask outright funding from the federal government for their daily operations.

TI-M president Muhammad Mohan said “there will always be some strings attached” if the government allocates funds to a particular group.

“There will be expectations that you, as the group, will not be critical of the government.

“The government has the option to cut the funding if the group becomes a vocal critic,” he said.

The anti-graft NGO chief was responding to the request by prominent rights lawyer and former Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan for the federal government to fund Bersih 2.0 for the work the electoral group is doing.

She also put a “no strings attached” condition on the funding so that Bersih 2.0 can carry out its groundwork, especially in the Sarawak elections. The state must call for elections by May 2021.

Mohan also said that Bersih 2.0 can still opt for government funding on a case-by-case basis, such as organising a joint programme to educate voters on the government’s new law that now allows those reaching 18 to cast their votes.

He said this was a better option than asking for outright funding.

“In this way, there will be no strings attached and as a NGO member, we can still criticise the government after that,” Mohan said.

Meanwhile Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said they will not seek funds from the government for their activities.

Bersih was formed in 2006 by leaders from political parties, civil society groups and NGOs before it was relaunched as a civil society movement in 2010.

It has held five mass rallies and called for electoral reforms, including the use of indelible ink in polls.