Money and politics The monetisation of politics remains a widespread phenomenon in Malaysia. Corruption in Malaysia took deep roots after political parties went aggressively into business during the rule of Mahathir Mohamad. It has seriously impacted democracy and the rights of voters to free and fair elections. Money contributes to the cancer of corruption. “Money can disrupt the democratic principle of fair competition in elections and undermine proper political representation,” read a 2011 Transparency International- Malaysia (TI-M) report submitted to the prime minister.
Problems arise when organisations with private agendas provide large secret funds to political parties/ candidates and expect something in return, compromising the quality of government. ” Among the reforms that have been proposed were a Political Parties Act, regulating money politics, restructuring the Election Commission to ensure its independence and reforms to the 1954 Election Offences Act. These reforms would have addressed the phenomenon of money politics in Malaysia. It is a disappointment none of these reforms have been made before this election.
The BN-led government lacked the political will to act on the allegations of grand corruption made against some BN leaders. Under the Government Transformation Plan, TI-M had hoped that new laws would be introduced to regulate political financing to stop politicians from using their party’s name to solicit funds. Currently, there are no limits to the amount of donations political parties and candidates can receive from special interest groups. There is also no requirement for public disclosure of such contributions.
Some of the onations are channelled directly to individual politicians instead of to their party. To begin with, political leaders must submit themselves to scrutiny. Cabinet and state ministers should agree to a mandatory declaration of assets. Currently, there is no law stating a political leader should step down if and when they are investigated for allegations of corruption by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency. Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, for example, continues to remain in power despite ongoing investigations into allegations of corruption against him.
Vote-buying is part of a whole chain of money politics that thrives, because politicians in power have easy access to funds which they can use to bribe voters. On August 14, 2008, businessman Michael Chia was caught in Hong Kong with Singapore currency amounting to money laundering and trafficking by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against corruption (ICAC). a wltn The money was reportedly earmarked for Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, and comprised funds being deposited into a Swiss Bank account containing $30 million, allegedly being held in trust for Musa by a lawyer.
Nazri Aziz, a minister in the prime minister’s department, was also linked to the money, according to the opposition People’s Justice Party. However, in his written reply, Nazr’ said the money was “not for the personal use of the chief minister”, but for Sabah’s UMNO liaison body – and the MACC had found “no element of corruption”, which he claimed led Hong Kongs ICAC to take no further action in the case. Election problems Prime Minister NaJib Razak, who leads the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has been giving out more cash “gifts” to offset rising living costs – the main concerns of a ignificant 40 per cent of the 13. million voters struggling with bread-and-butter issues. NaJib has been promising voters that there will be more to come if the coalition maintains power. Among the billions of ringgit worth of pre-election inducements were the second round of RM500 ($165) cash aid for each household, RM200 ($66) smartphone rebates for hundreds of thousands of youths, RM250 ($83) student book vouchers – and pay hikes for the country’s 230,000 policemen and soldiers who are seen as the vote bank for the ruling coalition.