Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 30th of March 2017

Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

Yesterday, on the 29th of March, 2017, myself together with my colleagues, Anthony Loke (Seremban), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Chong Chien Jen (Bandar Kuching), Julian Tan (Stampin), Oscar Ling (Sibu), Jeff Ooi (Jelutong) and Ng Wei Aik (Tanjong) met with Senator Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to discuss the details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act.

The recommendations[1] of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing were published on its website on the 30th of September 2016.[2]

We expressed our disappointment that this committee chose to only focus on political donations and expenditure without addressing larger issues of reform which are linked to political donations and expenditure including the independence of the Election Commission as well as the office of the Attorney General (AG).

We also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the recommendations including the proposal to lift all spending limits and not to have a cap on political donations to political parties and individuals. This will skew an already uneven playing field in favour of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

At the same time, we welcome the following recommendations:

  • The creation of an office of the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure and the assurance of a transparent and fair process to appoint the Controller
  • The creation of a parliamentary standing committee on political financing to scrutinise the work of the Controller on behalf of Parliament
  • That state funding be provided to support the effective operations of the constituency offices of the elected Members of Parliament and elected State Legislative Assembly members
  • The ban on state owned companies and companies receiving government contracts and concessions from making any political contributions
  • Steps to be taken to criminalise discrimination or victimisation of donors and the creation of a mechanism to enable donors who feel they have been unfairly treated to seek justice

We informed the Minister that state funding for MPs should include access to constituency development funds which are currently being denied to opposition MPs.

We also took note that many of the finer details to do with the implementation of the proposed act have not yet been confirmed and is in the process of being ironed out by the technical committee.

We appreciate the assurance by the Minister that he will keep us informed of any future developments with regards to this proposed bill and that he ‘will not spring any surprises’ on us.

We will await the full details of the proposed bill before we decide on whether to support the bill or not.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Photo: DAP MPs meeting with Paul Low

[1] http://transparency.org.my/what-we-do/reforming-political-financing/full-report-from-the-national-consultative-committee-on-political-financing/

[2] http://politicalfinancing.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Media-STATEMENT-JKNMPP-English-final-290916.pdf