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Introduce specialized funds to curb exorbitant funding of political parties - Bersih 2.0

Introduce specialized funds to curb exorbitant funding of political parties - Bersih 2.0
Headed by Tan Sri Abu Kassim, GIACC is the custodian on assets declared by ministers, deputy ministers, political secretaries and government officials
KUALA LUMPUR: The federal government is advised to set up a comprehensive legal structure to curb exorbitant funding of political parties, to avoid it from being a normal practice.

Bersih 2.0 Executive Director Yap Swee Seng told Astro AWANI that the recent announcement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed on the government's measures to further its anti-corruption agenda are commendable.
However, he said the government needs to strengthen existing laws and introduce new laws on anti-corruption to empower the bodies tasked on addressing corruption.

One of the areas that need to be looked at, said Yap, is managing political funding to ensure that no political party will be susceptible to the interests of any individual or private organizations.
“If we introduce a state fund that can channel funding for political parties to conduct activities, election campaigns and cover their operational cost, the issue of political funds can be addressed comprehensively.

“Such fund may exist to ensure that any party elected will not be drafting policies based on the interest of others. The funds may be given according to the number of seats won by these parties.

“This initiative will help smaller political parties to survive as they will have the financial means to operate and campaign,” he said.

More importantly, independent agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should be allowed to exercise their full capabilities when handling corruption cases.

“Having a strong law that will allow them to take actions beyond investigating and recommending prosecution will ensure that investigations remain independent and effective,” he said.

Under Section 7 of the MACC Act 2009, the Chief Commissioner and his officers were given the power to investigate while the Attorney-General, under the Federal Constitution, is empowered to initiate, carry out or stop any proceedings except those that fall under the Syariah and military courts. 

MACC’s lack of prosecution power has been cited as the commission’s biggest weakness in addressing corruption.

Commenting on the establishment of the Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (GIACC), Yap said the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) should not be placed under the newly-formed GIACC.

“EAIC is the only institution among the rest that have been placed under GIACC to report to the parliament. It should remain that way and must not be placed under the new commission,” he said. 

On Friday, Mahathir listed several existing agencies will be placed under the purview of GIACC including the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (IIM), Public Complaints Bureau (BPA) and EAIC.

Among the measures introduced include the role of GIACC as the custodian on assets declared by ministers, deputy ministers, political secretaries and government officials, and the restriction of ‘gift policy’ to include only flowers and food.

The Prime Minister had announced the establishment of GIACC last week where it is headed by former MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.