KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 ― The federal opposition rejected a proposal for political funding reforms suggested by Transparency International Malaysia after Election 2008, according to Prof Dr Terence Gomez who was part of the team who drafted the plan.
Speaking during the Malaysian Bar's International Law Conference today, Terence, who is with the Faculty of Economics and Administration at Universiti Malaya, said that he was surprised by the opposition's rejection during a roundtable held at Parliament.
"When I left the table to go and speak to the Barisan Nasional side regarding the proposals, YB Khalid Samad (then PAS MP) said, 'good luck'. I told them, 'I expect the BN side to say no. But what I did not expect was the opposition saying no to the idea,'" he revealed during his talk.
Terence, who presented an outline of the proposal to establish transparency in the funding received by political parties and ensure equal access to funds by these, said that the opposition members he spoke to were afraid to disclose the source of their funding after 2008, some citing fear of reprisals against donors.
Terence stressed that political funding reforms were crucial in order to address the larger issue of free and fair elections.
He also said that he was baffled by the opposition's rejection, as he had expected them to spearhead efforts to push through the reforms.
Terence revealed that the only Cabinet member who listened to their proposal was Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, then a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, but he later rejected the idea as well.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who was on the panel with Terence during a session titled "Challenges of Enhancing Democratic Space at both Federal and State Levels", insisted that DAP was never opposed to the idea.
"I am not saying it now, but I have said it to the G25 representatives before, that as far as we are concerned, the DAP completely supports any move for more transparency in political funding which levels the playing field," he said.
"Next time, I suggest you (Terence) bring the proposal directly to me. I am not aware of this (the roundtable) and I will have to check on that," he added.
Lim also offered to let Terence examine DAP's accounts and other internal processes to determine if there are elements of money politics in the party, after Terence said that opposition parties are beginning to practice money politics in their party elections.