Malaysiakini Letter

Should political funding be capped?

Karamjit Gill  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Across the globe, the most heated debate that has been going on for some time now is with regard to political funding especially when it involves an election. Every election is churning out to be multiple-folds more costly compared to the previous one. It was alleged that about US$5 billion was spent in the general elections in India last year.

Independent research groups in the United States of America estimate that the upcoming elections in the USA would cost nothing less than US$6 billion.

The amount of money being spent on an election is astounding. What is escalating the cost every term? The emergence of extensive campaigning, fund-raising and domination of social media in politics have given rise to this wacko-phenomenon of crazy spending during an election.

Politicians today resort to all types of communication to reach the tech-savvy younger individuals. Complex marketing strategies, easily accessible campaign venues, television commercials, digital printing, close-circuit live broadcasts of rallies and campaigns via social media are some of the methods used today.

Whether it is inter-party or intra-party elections, the outflow of cash rises enormously during an election process. In Malaysia, each candidate contesting for a Parliament seat is bounded to a maximum of RM200,000 during the election campaign while a candidate for state seat is only allowed to spend up to RM100,000 for the campaign.

However, these rules only apply to the candidate as an individual and do not apply for a political party. Hence, it may pave the way for access funding from political parties that go unmonitored.

The ‘splashing cash like water’ phenomenon in both inter- and intra-party elections is probably the single most important reason the common man in Malaysia keeps away from contesting in an election.

Individuals who are not financially sound find it difficult to compete against the super-rich. Hence, some highly deserving individuals lose in an election because they were unable to campaign as effective as their less-competent opponent. This often leads to dissatisfaction and eventually in-fighting during an election.

The ugly scenes showcased in the DAP elections was alleged to be due to unhappy individuals who lost and laid the blame on money politics. The zest for power supersedes integrity because of the magnanimous amount of money spent that leads to individuals acting beyond the boundaries of a normal sensible human being. The continuous infighting we see today in MIC is a clear example of greed for power where even rules and legislation don’t matter.

Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, a former BN federal minister, alleged that blatant vote-buying involving cash handouts ranging from RM200-RM1,000 per person has been used during previous general elections by representatives of BN. According to the former culture, arts and tourism minister, this strategy was called ‘bomb’. It is alleged that this ‘bombing’ is a very effective election tool in Sabah and Sarawak that is widely practised even until today.

Becoming a malignant diasease

The untoward activity of vote-buying is becoming a malignant disease and BN have been accused of gloating over this indulgence heavily during the last general elections.

Can PKR, DAP, PAS , Umno, MCA , Gerakan and MIC declare their funding sources? How did Anwar Ibrahim and his comrades successfully run the last election? Some analysts say Pakatan spent around RM500 million in the last general election (GE) and BN close to RM1 billion.

Do not plead innocence, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Rafizi Ramli and Tony Pua. We all know the evil, which is BN, and we do not want PKR and DAP to go down the evil path of BN. This is the exact moment we should reform the party and come out stronger with a new Pakatan Rakyat 2.0.

With the battle of giants resuming come next general election, I presume the upcoming GE would probably be the most expensive and exhaustive election campaigns ever in the history of the nation. The EC should be on its toes now itself to ensure no dirty tricks are resorted to during the campaign period.

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