PETALING JAYA - The use of money in politics must be regulated to prevent abuses and corruption, says Global Movement of Moderates CEO Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
"Politics requires money, but its use must be regulated. What is wrong is when money is misused for politics," he said, adding that the use of illegal money would cause people to lose confidence in the democratic process.
Saifuddin, who said this on Monday in his column in a Bahasa Malaysia daily, noted that regulations were needed at two levels - for political parties and candidates.
"For parties, regulations are needed with regard to the amount of funding required and the sources of the funding received, such as from members and non-members, the profits from businesses, the renting of assets and illegal money. And whether they involve the use of government positions, officers, assets and the funds of government agencies," he said.
He added that the manner in which political parties spend their money should also be regulated.
"Does the spending meet its targets? Is it audited? Has it been debated and approved in a transparent manner at the party's annual general meeting and have all financial systems and processes been conducted with integrity and responsibility," he said.
In terms of individual candidates, on the other hand, the amount of funding required has to be assessed, he said.
He noted that candidates should also be examined to see if they were involved in vote-buying, adding that several laws regulating general elections, such as those that concern party workers, should be amended.
"A clear definition of party workers and permitted allowances, such as food and petrol money are needed so voters aren't 'turned' into party workers in an attempt to buy votes. Another area is posters, including bunting and billboards. If a party or candidate is only allowed to display such items in a limited area, imagine how much funding can be saved," he said.
He added that if such limits could be set, it would reduce the amounts claimed from candidates, which in turn would also reduce the demands on parties in preparing political funding.
Saifuddin also called for a ceiling to be set with regard to how much a candidate could spend.
"If money politics is not eradicated, there will be those who will use money to get power and then use that power to get more money to then get more power. The cycle will continue until it becomes a devilish one," he said.