PETALING JAYA: Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has called for necessary reforms on independent regulators to be included in any political funding Act to ensure regulators are impartial in monitoring the funding processes.
TI-M board member Alan Kirupakaran said the Election Commission (EC) and the Registrar of Societies (RoS) were the most suitable regulators to be tasked with monitoring the political funding process but there were many “shortcomings” with these institutions.
He pointed out that the EC is a management body that was not vested with investigative power to handle the funding process.
He added that there were various indicators showing that EC members “did not function the way they were supposed to”, adding that EC members were appointed under the recommendation of the prime minister.
Meanwhile, he said, RoS was placed under the home affairs ministry.
“Which is why we see some political parties receive approval for their registration quite easily while others have to wait up to 10 years,” he said at a conference organised by IDEAS and the Malaysian Bar Council.
To address the shortcomings of these institutions, he said a law on political financing should not only focus on regulations for the funding but also address issues of autonomy involving the EC and RoS so that these bodies could function independently.
M Ramachelvam, chairman of the Bar Council’s law reform and special areas committee shared a similar sentiment, saying there was a trust deficit involving regulators such as the EC and RoS and institutional reforms were needed to tackle it.
He also suggested that the political funding process be tasked to a new independent monitoring body and that matters such as appointments and salaries, among others, for this body should be free of executive influence.
Last month, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption had agreed in principle to a political funding bill.
He said the proposal would be discussed with the Cabinet before further engagement with political parties.