Malaysia mulls banning foreign political donations after Najeeb scandal

The proposed regulations is expected to be ready before the next general election.

Malaysia will ban all kinds of political donations from foreign and government-linked sources, the National Consultative Committee on Political Funding has said.

The Committee chairman, Paul Low, said this ese will be among the recommendations that will be submitted to the Malaysian cabinet in August.

Prime Minister Najib Razak formed the committee last August following a controversy arising out of the transfer of more than $700 million (S$966 million) into his private bank accounts.

Low, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said that the committee expects the proposed regulations to be ready before the next general election. He referred to Malaysia's 14th general election and said, "Hopefully, there will be a Political Donation Act by GE14," the Straits Times reported.

Low also said that although a threshold of state ownership has yet to be agreed on, a Political Donation Act would help to stop the use of foreign funding, as well as donations from other government-linked bodies.

The committee will set the size and type of the contract by the end of July to ban companies that benefit from government deals from making donations.

He added that "special accounts" should be designated for receiving and contributing political funds as "voters are interested in political funding sources and how it (the money) is spent". But Low mentioned that the committee was not in favour of setting limits to amounts that could be donated.

Instead the plan is to amend the Election Offences Act which would redefine and update spending limits considering the costs involved while campaigning in urban and remote rural areas.

Since last July, Najib has faced several calls to resign after it was revealed that huge funds had been deposited into his personal accounts via companies linked to troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Najeeb said the funds were political donation from the Saudi royal family.

"Mr Najib was not aware that government-owned SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary, had transferred RM42 million (S$14 million) into his accounts, and was therefore not guilty of graft," Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali said in January.

Malaysia has no specific law governing political funding unlike countries such as South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia.