The government is looking at the possibility of introducing a new act to monitor activities related to political funding, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: The government is looking at the possibility of introducing a new act to monitor activities related to political funding, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Political funding is a big problem. Political parties need funding. Without funding, it can’t function.

“The cost of being in politics is very high now and it is getting higher all the time,” he told reporters after launching the National Anti Corruption Plan here today.

He also stressed that while political parties required sources of funding, they had to be legitimate and recognised by the government.

“So, the government is now looking at how funding should not act as a bribe to parties or the government. It is a very difficult process but we will find a way,” he added.

Later, National Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed said GIACC was in talks with political parties to prepare the Political Funding Bill before it is presented to the Cabinet and later tabled in Parliament.

“Among the issues raised were the funding amount and process, as well as punitive measures on those who fail to disclose the fund.

“We hope to table the Bill in June, but that would depend on the outcome of the meetings with political parties.

“I believe that we need to meet a few more times before we proceed to present to the Cabinet,” he told reporters.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said the NACP had stressed on the need to have laws relating to political funding.

The prime minister also said Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s anti-corruption plan was more comprehensive and had more “teeth” compared to the National Integrity Plan (NIP) introduced in 2004.

The NIP, he said, was incapable of stopping the culture of corruption which had worsened in the past several years, during which time Malaysia was branded as a kleptocracy.

“This label was not created by me or my government. It was given by the foreign media when the foreign authorities had discovered the involvement of past leaders in money laundering, graft and cheating.”

Based on this awareness, Dr Mahathir said, his government should not merely remind the people on past misconducts and their negative effects on Malaysia.

“We must look forward and find ways to ensure the new government and the future administration will not be involved in corruption.

“It is not enough to merely put the blame on the past government... we need various strategies, laws and limitations to make it harder for anyone to be involved in corruption.”

Additional reporting by Nuradzimmah Daim, Mohd Husni Mohd Noor and Irwan Shafrizan Ismail