The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) welcomes Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s announcement regarding the government’s commitment to adopt several proposals by the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption.
In the meeting on Tuesday, the first reform announcement was on asset declarations for CEOs of GLCs, GLICs and members of the judiciary, followed by improvements to existing asset declarations practices by Members of Parliament (MPs), senators and administrative members with a new code of ethics specifically for MPs.
The third reform announcement involves the status of a highly anticipated Political Financing Bill, with an update that it will be regulated by an independent body known as the Controller of Political Donations.
The Prime Minister also announced new measures to enhance integrity, transparency and good governance in its administration, specifically an amendment to the Audit Act 1957 to empower the Auditor-General’s Office, a reassessment of the role and fixed funding for the Malaysian Institute for Integrity (IIM) to perform its new duties, and finally a new committee to monitor local authorities’ affairs on transfer requests, reduce corruption and improve service delivery.
IDEAS would like to welcome these newly announced measures which indicate that the governance agenda is continued to be placed as a priority by this administration.
The six proposals are key to combating corruption. The move to widen asset declarations to include more persons in public office as well as government-linked companies (GLCs) is a step in the right direction towards restoring public trust in our institutions.
A few improvements can be further implemented by the government, for example, by making some asset declaration information accessible to the public and expanding the scope of declaration to immediate family members such as spouses and children to facilitate a better identification of potential conflicts of interest.
IDEAS particularly welcomes the proposal for an independent controller of political finance.
This provision is consistent with the Private Member’s Bill on Political Financing that the APPG’s Chair submitted to Parliament on July 13, 2022.
It is hoped that some of the provisions for the independent commission from this bill can be incorporated into the government’s draft bill.
However, the Prime Minister did not mention any plan to incorporate public funding in the Political Financing Bill that the government is currently drafting.
We hope this important element that the APPG version of the Bill contains will be incorporated.
Public funding will help ensure a more level playing field for political parties, reduce dependency on private contributions, as well as encourage transparency and greater women participation in politics.
We look forward to being included in the consultation process before the tabling of the political financing bill.
We reiterate the call by the APPG Chair to establish a Multi-Partisan Parliamentary Special Select Committee where a comprehensive and inclusive review of the bill that involves various stakeholders can be conducted.
We hope to see these consultations commence within the next two weeks as the third parliamentary session will start on October 5, and we look forward to being invited as part of these consultation processes.
(IDEAS is a nonprofit research institute dedicated to promoting solutions to public policy challenges, focusing on three overarching missions – advancing a competitive economy, ensuring trust in institutions and promoting an inclusive Malaysia.)