Malaysia's opposition parties objected to political funding reforms

DAP had opposed the suggestion to institute reforms in political funding, says Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

And the first to support the idea was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Rahman said.

"One of the first parties to object to the funding reform was DAP.

"The reason given by DAP was largely self-serving - and what a huge disappointment that had been," he said in a statement on Friday.

Rahman said that the reason given by DAP was that the party's leaders "feared that the reform would put DAP at a disadvantage".

Rahman said it was the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Committee (MACC) which had first suggested the idea of transparency in political funding, at a time he was serving as a member of MACC's special committee on corruption.

"I know for a fact that those fine men and women of the MACC have been trying to get political parties to agree to a more transparent procedure when it comes to political donations.

"MACC has said that they aspire to have all donations officially declared in the name of transparency and accountability," Rahman said.

He said when the MACC came up with the suggestion, the first head of a political party who supported the idea was none other Najib, who publicly declared his support and wanted it to be implemented and co-opted under the Government Transformation Programme initiative.

Rahman said at a meeting with Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) and Pakatan Rakyat's members of parliament on Dec 1 2010, Tian Chua (PKR's Batu MP) was reported in the minutes of the meeting to have said that he 'feared that full disclosure would hurt their contributors and consequently the financing for the opposition.'

Rahman said Tian Chua added 'the fear is that the donors might be prosecuted by the winning coalition for supporting the losing coalition in any general election. This would result in a substantial decline of income source for the losing coalition.' "

He said it was hypocritical for DAP leaders to now demand that the Prime Minister "reveal the sources of political funding for BN and Umno when they have maliciously rejected the political funding reform initiative in the first place".

He said the act of giving and accepting political donations is legal in the country.

"Political donation is legal in Malaysia. It is clear that without huge political donation, there is no way for the opposition parties to run their massive election machinery," he said.

However, he said the idea of political funding reforms should be looked at as many were demanding more transparency from political parties.

"All said and done, there is now a louder demand to regulate political donations and the opposition especially DAP can't ignore it anymore.

"But until such monumental leap of faith becomes a reality within the opposition's coalition, one should never be deluded enough to hold the higher ground against another", he said.

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