PETALING JAYA: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 says Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s court testimony is proof that political financing must be curbed.

According to the Bersih 2.0’s steering committee, the Electoral Offences Act 1954 (EOA) should be amended to regulate political financing and suggested that the ceiling for political campaign spending during elections for state assemblymen and parliamentarians be raised to RM500,000 and RM1mil respectively.

The current ceiling is RM100,000 and RM200,000.

“Tengku Adnan’s testimony in the High Court revealed how Umno raised funds for election campaigns through political donations.

“While we do not suggest that his testimony exonerates him from the corruption charge, it does show how vast sums are raised and spent in elections.

“At present, the EOA only regulates campaign spending by candidates during election campaigns. Spending by political parties and others, including those for the benefit of the candidates, are left largely unregulated.

“In addition, there is no regulation over political donations to political parties and candidates,” said the committee.

The committee further pointed out the unregulated political financing, allowing loopholes for bribery and undue influence by interest groups

“It also undermines public confidence in the integrity of elections.

“In order to provide a level playing field for political competition and to reduce the influence of money in politics, the EOA must be amended and a new law on political financing must be enacted to regulate these two key areas of political financing, i.e. the source and the spending of funds.

“On the source of funds, contributions to political parties and candidates, both in cash and in kind that is above RM1,000, must be declared,” said the committee, adding that it should apply to all donors.

“Government-linked companies (GLC) as custodians of public wealth should be barred from donating to political parties or be involved in political activities.

“Public funding for political parties should also be introduced to help reduce the reliance on private sources of funding, particularly the wealthy and corporate interest groups.

“The current campaign spending limits of RM100,000 for a state assembly candidate and RM200,000 for a parliamentary candidate should be increased to a more realistic figure.

“We would propose limits of RM500,000 and RM1,000,000 respectively. The regulation should be extended to cover spending by political parties and third parties as well,” said the statement.

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