Kuala Lumpur, 28 August 2020 – IDEAS congratulates the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) for completing their 2-year mission to propose improvements in the way elections are held in the country. The submission of the final report to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin yesterday contained 49 recommendations, some requiring constitutional amendments, amending of existing laws and enacting new ones.
One of the most important recommendations is to introduce a mechanism to monitor political funding. “The absence of a law regulating political funding has been highlighted by various CSOs over the years. Various CSOs and academics, including IDEAS, have produced policy recommendations on how political donations, financing and expenditure should be monitored and regulated. Furthermore, the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP), which serves as the government’s roadmap in combating corruption presented a clear timeline on when a Political Funding Act should be tabled. I am optimistic that the ERC has taken into account the wealth of reform proposals on political funding into their final report. I hope that the proposals include the prohibition of political donations by GLCs and a mechanism that provides a level playing field for smaller political parties. Besides that, it is also important to consider that many political parties in Malaysia own assets and businesses that contribute to funding their political activities. Furthermore, the law must ensure that parties are not discouraged from disclosing their donors for fear of repercussions.” says Aira Azhari, Manager of IDEAS’ Democracy and Governance Unit.
IDEAS has been involved in the political funding debate for some years and we are hopeful that these proposals will result in the tabling of the Act.
IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh added, “I am encouraged that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yasin has received the ERC report and am optimistic that he will table a much-needed Political Financing Act in Parliament soon. I urge all political parties from either side of the divide as well as CSOs to lend their support to these efforts as well.”
Another significant reform proposed by the ERC is to change our current first-past-the-post electoral system to a Closed-List Proportional Representation (CLPR) one, where voters vote for the party and not individual candidates.
This shift from FPTP to CLPR is something that has been widely discussed for years now. “I am encouraged that the ERC included this proposal in their report. While there can be further debates and studies conducted to assess the suitability of CLPR in Malaysia, the inclusion of it in the report is a first step in acknowledging the limitations of the FPTP system. Because this is such a fundamental change, some concerns remain regarding the norm that we elect individuals to represent constituents, after all, the Federal Constitution does not recognise political parties. These matters must be looked into without compromising the need to rethink the impact that the FPTP system has had on representation, diversity and democracy as a whole.” comments Aira.
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For media enquiry, please contact Aira Azhari at firstname.lastname@example.org.