Malaysia plans to bar for­eign political do­na­tions

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

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.

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