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COMMENT | If only political funding reform was sexy

COMMENT | Political funding reform may seem like a boring topic, unlike spicy and sexy stuff like the leaked audio bromance and the Sandakan hotel sodomy video. And of course, racial/religious issues like Zakir Naik always get us hot and bothered.

But political funding may be much more important than these melodramas. It’s a crucial topic to determine if our politicians really represent our interests - or that of tycoons who have “donated” to them. We get hung up about voting for the “right” politicians during elections, but what policies do they pursue after we give them a blank cheque once every five years? After all, if money talks, big money shouts and it may then become hard for our politicians to hear us.

How do developers, tycoons and corporate bigwigs influence our politicians? One way is by donating to charitable foundations (yayasan) linked to our dear Yang Berhormats, as revealed in a recent seminar by the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4). For example, according to public records, well-known companies have donated millions to the Muhyiddin Yassin “Charity Golf Foundation”. Was it purely out of snowy white sincerity to do charity? Or is there another agenda?

You may shrug, “aiya, this is the cost of doing business la”, which basically means that you accept corruption. But if you are angry over politicians who have frog jumped, you may want to keep reading.

During the C4 seminar, Terence Gomez explained that his team was “shocked” at the number of “yayasan” used for political purposes. He described it as a “shadow world” of enormous “dark money” used to finance parties, and which contributed to corruption. He recounted how the crucial 2013 election was awash with money (to influence voters), as Barisan Nasional strived to regain seats lost in the 2008 political tsunami.

“We asked where all this money was coming from? We found out two years later, it came from 1MDB...

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