Malaysia to table political funding Bill in October

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Malaysia’s long-awaited law to regulate political funding will be tabled in Parliament this October.

“The Bill on political funding is in the pipeline and we are working to get it tabled during the Parliament meeting in October,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said on Thursday (Aug 11).

The proposed political funding law will be among the main focus of Parliament’s Lower House when it meets on Oct 26, apart from the tabling of Budget 2023 and a landmark Bill that aimed to ban smoking for an entire generation of adults.

The move to get the political funding Bill ready before October comes after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently reaffirmed the government’s commitment to its tabling.

However, Datuk Seri Ismail said whether such laws could be ready before next general election, which has to be called by September next year, remains to be seen.

Calls by civil society for laws on political funding have grown louder in recent months, particularly in light of several high-profile court cases linked to “political donations”.

Although political funding laws were first mooted in 2016 by the then National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, they received resistance from several quarters, including from the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH).

The Committee had come up with 32 recommendations to address the lack of laws on transparent political funding, including the creation of the office of the controller of political donations and a ban on cash donations from foreign sources.

However, the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Act did not make it to Parliament before the 2018 general election

In 2019, PH intended to table laws on political funding but could not do so after the government collapsed in February the following year.

In July, government backbencher Fadhil Shaari submitted a motion to Parliament for a Private Members’ Bill on political funding.

Among the proposal by Mr Fadhil include setting up a RM 130 million (S$40.06 million) Political Funding Fund, which political parties would be eligible for if they gained at least 2 per cent of votes during an election.

Also included are provisions to cap political donations to RM50,000 from individuals, RM100,000 from companies and RM500,000 from groups of companies per year.