paullowcasmac2016The cabinet-sanctioned committee tasked with proposing regulations on political funding has outlined six recommendations that, among others seek to eliminate foreign donations and make public those made by corporations.

National Consultative Committee on Political Funding (NCCPF) chairman Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan said the recommendations were part of the preliminary phase of the team’s mission, while comprehensive regulations would be completed by August.

On Monday, the committee, in its third meeting since its inception last year, had discussed donations from sources that were foreign, unnamed, corporations, individuals and criminal sources.

The committee recommended that political donations be deposited into separate bank accounts to allow for verifications of receipts by an independent auditor.

Low said the recommendations were slated to be included into a future law that would address political donations.

In a statement yesterday, he touched on political funding of political parties, which is practised in many countries, to supplement private funding.

He said the committee believed such funding should be used only for practical purposes to better to serve the people.

“Public funding is made available to finance election campaigns and service Source: New Straits Times, 16 March 2016 centres of elected representatives in Parliament and state assemblies.

“The committee is of the opinion that allocation of funds to support service centres merits consideration, and that such financial support is essential to empower each representative to serve his constituency more effectively.

“However, funding from the state for election campaign purposes of individuals candidates or political parties is not necessary.”

The committee is conducting a comparative study on political funding in countries, including Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia.

“The study is to analyse their best practices and to set a benchmark for Malaysia to introduce its own regulations.”

Low said NCCPF was working with a separate technical committee. The latter would look into the details of each regulation to provide a clear definition on each violation and funding source.

“The technical committee will define, for example, donations from criminal sources. “For example, the source may be an organised criminal syndicate.

“If you look at the recommendations, we have mentioned the need for a ‘controller’.

“The controller is an authority appointed by an independent committee or body, to monitor and vet political donations’ movement and sources.”

The 20-member NCCPF’s formation was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Aug 14 last year. Its goal is to draw up a political funding action plan of integrity that is comprehensive and inclusive.

At present, there are no regulations on political funding although regulations on elections expenditure exist.

Committee member Professor Dr. Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia said NCCPF would meet political parties for feedback on its recommendations before they were tabled as a bill in Parliament.

“These are only the preliminary recommendations. The concern now is that there is no law to regulate political funding. We are worried that this funding is unchecked.”