Malaysia plans to bar foreign political donations
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is reviewing plans to bar foreign political donations after Prime Minister Najib Razak became embroiled in a scandal over a $681 million contribution that ended up in his personal bank account.
A Malaysian committee working on a framework to regulate political funding also determined that anonymous donations should not exceed 1,000 ringgit ($242) and contributions must be held in a bank account that could be audited, said Paul Low, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
"Political donations from foreign interest and sources should be prohibited," Low, who chairs the National Consultative Committee on Political Funding, said in a statement. "This is necessary as a safeguard against foreign influence on local politics as well as the sovereignty of the nation."
Najib is facing his biggest political crisis since coming to power seven years ago as questions linger over the donation before the 2013 election that the government said came from the Saudi royal family. Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January cleared Najib of wrongdoing over the "personal contribution" and said the premier had returned $620 million that was not utilized. Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has never explained what happened to the remaining $61 million.
The Malaysian Bar association said Tuesday it was seeking a judicial review of the attorney general's decision not to pursue a criminal case against Najib. Under the constitution, a decision to start criminal prosecution lies solely with the attorney general.
The leader of Malaysia's opposition coalition had submitted a motion for a vote of no confidence against Attorney General Apandi, according to a copy of the request distributed to reporters Tuesday. The motion was submitted in late February to the speaker of the house but has yet to be included in the legislature's agenda so far this sitting.