KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 11): Industries and trade organisations are supporting the institutional reforms in political financing, in order to create confidence in the sector and ensure competitiveness among businesses.
In a joint statement, nine trade associations said the business community was facing serious challenges and that going ahead, it could become more difficult and prolonged. Thus to remain sustainable, industries must become competitive in a difficult global environment.
The trade associations comprise the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Malay Businessmen and Industrialist Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Employers Federation, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Malaysian Iron and Steel Industry Federation, Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association, Malaysian Paints Manufacturers Association, SME Association of Malaysia, and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia.
Political financing reforms have been separately proposed by the government and groups, including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low, Transparency International-Malaysia, pro-moderate Malay group g25, and think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
The National Consultative Committee on Political Financing headed by Low had released a 32-point report in September that was submitted to the government.
It was reported that the recommendations include the compulsory declaration by political parties for donations more than RM3,000 cash or kind, the banning of state-owned entities and foreign sources’ donation to parties and prohibition of companies that receive government contracts and concessions from donations to politicians and parties.
FMM president Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon said the business community recognised that political parties need funding to stand for elections, and that they were not opposed to it.
“But it is our belief that there ought to be greater transparency, accountability and disclosure. At the same time, there ought to be freedom to support and donate to any party and that fundamental liberty must be maintained.
“Hence, there must be [a] system that balances the need for transparency, to protect corporate donor against victimisation,” he said in a joint press conference.
Saw stressed donations must be voluntary and there should be limits, a need to ensure no one can be explicitly or implicitly compelled to make a donation to any political party.
“We are against patronage and rent-seeking activities (caused by money politics) which creates unfair competition and higher cost of doing business, inefficient use of resources and unfair competition,” he said.
He added that political financing reform which was one of the ways to improve governance, would help develop the country’s economy and a sustainable and robust industry.
Saw further said everybody was entitled to his or her right to support any party, whether it was DAP or Barisan Nasional — that it is personal and had nothing to do with business.
“Business only wants a conducive environment, a level playing field and transparency, and to compete on our ability, not on our relationship and patronage,” he said.