PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs political funding reforms to eradicate the influence of money politics and to allow fresh, diverse candidates and parties to emerge.
During a webinar co-hosted by IDEAS and Bait Al-Amanah titled “Transparency in Democracy”, Umno Supreme Council member Khaled Nordin and Muda’s Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman both backed reforms to party financing as a way to prevent the persistence of political patronage in Malaysia.
Khaled said a lack of regulation has led to Malaysia becoming a “breeding ground for corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest” in politics and that new reforms must make transparency a guiding principle.
“Transparent disclosures must apply to all political parties, creating a level and accessible playing field. Incumbents should not abuse the system to win the next game, but instead, work harder for fairer rules and a level playing field in future competitions.
“Malaysia is in need of a new generation of political leaders and a diverse set of political figures, but there are real barriers that are preventing them from entering the field,” he added, citing how money politics prevents less established figures with fewer resources to be competitive.
“Malaysia deserves a representative political scene, and I believe a healthy democracy is built on inclusivity for all,” he said.
Khaled said reforms must have bipartisan support, adding that leaders should discuss the exact mechanisms that need to be in place to support donation and spending disclosures and the state funding of parties.
Syed Saddiq said that a lack of reform in party financing had slowed down important policy changes, hindering the country’s progress and making Malaysia a “country of mediocrity”.
The Muar MP explained that money politics had become rampant in Malaysia, be it in general elections or in party polls.
“You need an average of RM2 million to RM5 million before you can run for a parliamentary seat.
“However, in order to contest for the post of president or deputy president of an established party, you need at least RM10 million to RM20 million,” Syed Saddiq said.
“During general or state elections, people expect handouts. In party elections, respective divisions will ask how much you are willing to sponsor, how much can you give every year or month.”
The former youth and sports minister said this led to politicians looking for funds from a variety of sources even if some may not be legal, because “if you don’t play the game, you get left out completely.”
Syed Saddiq also claimed that the “Sheraton Move” that led to the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan government in February last year, had thwarted a political funding act from being tabled in the following month.
By : Imran Ariff – FMT