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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Political funding to be controlled: The Question is, how effectively? - Ramon Navaratnam

Political funding to be controlled: The Question is, how effectively? - Ramon Navaratnam
Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib and his Government must be congratulated for the innovative new initiatives to control Political Funding ,which obviously must be checked .
This major decision is most timely as the new rules on political funding could now be applied well before the 13th General Elections which will be held soon and so the decision is all the more welcome .
Political Funding has given rise to the ugly practice of Money Politics which is widely regarded as the Mother of Corruption. Any control on Political Funding therefore will go a long way to curb corruption not only in the political arena, but throughout the system.
There must be supportive measures as well
However it must be recognised that these new initiatives can be circumscribed by other measures , such as giving cash donations to individual candidates on the promise of contracts and favours which could be given as rewarded to donors later after the political party or candidate wins the election.
Hence this good move has to be supported by other measures , such as the following , to make the new rules really work effectively .
Firstly , the rules governing Election Expenditure must not only be tightened , but scrupulously enforced. There is no point recording donations to the political parties and giving receipts for them , if contributions are provided in kind , such as in the form of banners and bunting and dinners and gifts and even cash grants to the voters !
Secondly, Political leaders in Government , whether at Federal or State level and also other elected officials are in their powerful and highly influential positions because of the political election process. Hence any wealth that they accumulate due too ill gotten gains must be scrutinised and made accountable to the rayaat , whom they are to serve dutifully and honestly.
Thus the Government's sound decision that the Macc Chief Commissioner will now be privy to the Statutory Declaration of assets of the members of the administration , is again most gratifying and commendable .
Here again we hope that assets refer to Nett Assets , that is including Liabilities as well ! There is a need to ensure that a political candidate does not borrow large sums for electioneering purposes but does not pay it back to the political funder !
Applied at all levels
Furthermore it is imperative that these new laudable anti corruption measures pertaining to both political donations and asset declarations , are applied to all elected officials at all levels of Government all over the country .
While new policies and rules and regulations are always useful , the real test of the pudding is in the eating. . So the Macc now armed with new powers and even with the promise of a higher status for the Chief Commissioner and greater resources , will be expected by the public to become much more successful in combating corruption in our country.
With these good measures in force , the Macc performance and results have to improve significantly. Otherwise the rayaat will become even more frustrated with the destructive spread of corruption that has been eroding our sense of well being and confidence in our future !
On our part , we have to give all our full support to the Macc which we expect to become more active in the fight against corruption and Money Politics - without fear or favour.
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the Chairman Asli Center of Public Policy Studies

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