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TRANSPARENCY International Malaysia (TI-M) urges lawmakers to expedite the tabling of the political financing bill following the case of Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan.
The decision of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to offer the accused a compound when the case was halfway through trial has shocked the public. This is after the accused had declared that he was offered to pay a compound for his charges earlier on, but refused and sought to be tried – which involved a waste of taxpayers’ money. His compound sum can be regarded as relatively minuscule and thus sets a poor precedent and may deliver a wrong message to the rakyat. Although under the Anti-Money Laundering & Counter Terrorism Financing Act Section 92, the competent authority with the consent of the public prosecutor can offer a compound but the choice to do so at this stage in the midst of so many high-profile corruption cases being “settled” has caused an uproar in the eyes of the public. The attorney-general should explain the rationale for the conduct of this matter.
Since political donations remain unregulated in Malaysia, TI-M is also curious if the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) has looked into the accounts of Ahmad and the source of the money, surrounding the transactions and the necessary declarations. This is especially crucial given Najib Razak’s previous compound from LHDN, for which the tax authority is now curiously being probed by the police.
However, TI-M concurs with Ahmad’s call for the tabling of a political financing act, with stringent guidelines on sources of financing, mandatory declarations, stringent thresholds and adequate public transparency to clean up political financing and conflicts of interest in the Malaysian political arena. Perceptions of land deals, party hopping deals, contract awards, questionable donations and representatives involved in businesses have long plagued the scene and continue to affect Malaysia’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score annually.
Transparency and accountability in politics are vital to prevent abuse of power and to stop the retention of corrupt politicians, in order to guarantee a brighter future for the nation.
Transparency International Malaysia is is an independent, non-governmental and non-partisan organisation committed to the fight against corruption. – October 2, 2021.