Malaysian Bar President Karen Cheah Yee Lynn speaks during a press conference on the March for Judicial Independence 2022 on June 17, 2022. – Photo by Choo Choy May.
Thursday, June 23, 2022 7:30 p.m. MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 – The enactment of a political finance law would be a good start in curbing the scourge of corruption and inefficiencies in the regulation of the country’s electoral system, said Malaysian Bar Association President Karen Cheah Yee Lynn.
She said that currently, except for the outdated provisions of the Election Offenses Act 1954, there is no legislation in Malaysia to govern political finance, thus creating an ecosystem conducive to corruption.
“There are regulations on anonymous donations or even donations from foreign sources,” she said in her opening remarks at a joint conference on the “Political Finance Act: Current Status, Challenges and way forward”, organized by IDEAS and the Bar Council, here today.
“Political parties are governed by the Companies Act 1960 and although they are required to submit their audited financial statements to the Registrar of Companies, they do not need to reveal the sources of their donations.
“This gap in the law, which also includes the absence of effective criminal laws and sufficient enforcement powers in our electoral commission, is part of the problem that contributes to the opacity of our political institutions.
“As Malaysians, we are no strangers to allegations of corruption and embezzlement by those in positions of power.
“Malaysian news cycle is full of corruption related news and since 2015 Malaysia has been embroiled in the notorious 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy and we are still reeling from the aftermath of the scandal till today. today.
“Thus, the relevant laws in Malaysia need to be reviewed and amended. The Malaysian Bar Association has always advocated that we need a law to govern political finance and we continue to urge the enactment of such legislation,” she added.
Cheah also said such laws would set spending limits for candidates and parties, improve public disclosure, and properly regulate the structure of political finance in general elections or party elections.
She noted that many other countries, including Singapore, India, the United States and the United Kingdom, have enacted elaborate and sophisticated laws that dictate acceptable behavior for politicians and political parties.
“The political finance issues are multi-faceted, complex and complex and we will face many obstacles.
“There are no simple answers and no magic formula that can change the political landscape overnight.
“However, Rome was not built in a day and I firmly believe that with enough political will and a well thought out strategy, the necessary laws can be enacted to ensure cleaner and fairer elections.
“Furthermore, the public must be better able to participate in decisions that affect them, and competent authorities must listen and adequately engage on concerns expressed by the public in order to promote accountability and build trust. “, Cheah said.
On May 19, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government had given its approval in principle to the Political Finance Bill and the scope of the policy would soon be presented to the Cabinet. — Bernama