3:57pm 05/02/2023
Government needs to expedite Political Financing Reforms amidst MACC investigations and deteriorating CPI score 

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the endorsing undersigned organizations commend the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for making progress on the investigation over allegations of the potential misappropriation of funds for the COVID-19 stimulus packages.

However, we are concerned over the long-standing perception of selective investigations on opposition parties.

We call for the government and political parties to work seriously towards institutional reforms for greater independence of the MACC and more transparent financing of political parties. 

Political financing legislation is a key step to reduce political corruption. It will also subject all political parties, not only opposition parties, to similar measures of transparency, disclosure and scrutiny.

The Private Member’s Bill introduced by the previous All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Financing, of which some members of this group are part of, requires all political parties to declare their funding sources to an independent commission.

Declaring funding sources would reduce the possibilities of political parties obtaining funds from illegal means such as misappropriation of public funds, bribery, or money-laundering.

Further, the group recommends public funding as a means to curb political corruption, where the government provides funds to political parties based on a set formula, hence eventually reducing over-dependence on private sector funds and the conflict of interest potentially arising from this. 

Improving MACC’s independence would boost public confidence in the MACC and reduce the perception of the institution being used for political purposes.

This can be done by ensuring the security of tenure of the commissioners and creating an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC).

 Research suggests that anti-corruption commissions which enjoy wider autonomy generally do better in their fight against corruption. 

We would also like to remind the government that the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) that was launched in 2019 targeted to introduce a political financing legislation by the end of 2020 and have a separate Parliamentary Select Committee for the MACC by the end of 2023.

This commitment was made by a coalition government that consisted of parties that are part of the current government.

Both targets were unfortunately removed when the NACP underwent a mid-term review in 2021. They must be reinstated if the current government is serious about making the MACC more independent. 

The government should be more cognizant of how it navigates the fragile public trust in institutions.

The recently published 2022 CPI score which suggests a deterioration in Malaysia’s performance in eradicating corruption — having fallen six points over the last three years — should prompt the government to restart the efforts to work on these two key reform areas immediately.

As the NACP will expire at the end of this year, it is now more crucial than ever for the government to show political willingness to enact change.

Endorsing organizations: 

◾Advancing Knowledge in Democracy and Law Initiative
◾Agora Society
◾Bait Al Amanah
◾Engage Network
◾TI Malaysia

Endorsing individual: 

◾Maha Balakrishnan




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