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    Aug 07, 2015

    Laws on political donations needed: Malaysian officials


    CALLS have been made by senior Malaysian officials, including the country's Election Commission chairman, for laws on political donations.

    This comes after Malaysia's anti-graft unit said earlier this week that the RM2.6 billion (S$963 million) deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak's private bank accounts were donations, and not from debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

    Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Yusof said "there must be a law on how much donations political parties are getting and from whom", news site Free Malaysia Today reported yesterday.

    He pointed to how there are laws in the United States and Britain regarding political financing. "There was a proposal before for such a law, but one political party disagreed."

    Mr Aziz said the commission relies on the receipts submitted by political parties.

    "We don't have the power to investigate whether they are spending more than the RM200,000 allowed per parliamentary seat and RM100,000 per state seat," he said. "We can only report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) if we receive a complaint that someone has breached the spending limits."

    Paul Low, minister in charge of governance and integrity, also said "there is an urgent need to enact legislation to prohibit all political funding from foreign sources or from donors that are not Malaysian entities or citizens".

    Mr Low said yesterday that "all political donations must not be given into accounts of individuals but only into accounts of the political party and all donors must be publicly disclosed", The Malaysian Insider reported.

    MACC has verified that the amount donated to Mr Najib was from a Middle-Eastern donor. It said on Wednesday that it would ask the prime minister to explain the donation.

    But newly-appointed Cabinet Minister Salleh Said Keruak said there is no need for Mr Najib to provide details of the political donation despite pressure to do so, as the prime minister was not bound by any law to disclose the donor details.

    The new communications and multimedia minister told The Star that it was more important to note that Mr Najib was cleared by MACC and that the anti-graft unit said there was "no corrupt practice".

    But the minister agreed that there should be laws governing political funds. "The prime minister said there should be political reform... we will work on it," he said.