KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Umno lawmaker Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan told a public forum last night that he is motivated to see the enactment of a law to regulate political funds because he had been a “victim” previously.
The Pontian MP, who has been nominated by his party to be the next deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker, said the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Bill that is scheduled to be tabled in the coming Parliament sitting is not new, but a revival from an idea back in 2016.
“Why did I suddenly propose this again?
“I want to reintroduce it because I was a victim of an unregulated political donation,” he was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini during an online forum hosted by Malay daily Sinar Harian last night.
Ahmad was one of the panel members. He had been a deputy finance minister when the Barisan Nasional was in power, under the leadership of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is on trial for multiple corruption and criminal charges for alleged power abuse, money laundering related to the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, among others.
Najib was also recently told by the Court of Appeal to pay RM1.69 billion in tax arrears and penalties owed to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), but is appealing the decision.
Ahmad is currently facing charges of failing to declare RM2 million received from Najib to the IRB and giving false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). If found guilty, he could be fined up to RM5 million, or jailed a maximum five years, or both.
Ahmad claimed he was left out of the present Cabinet led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob because of these charges. The Umno secretary-general said he and 80 other individuals and entities have been issued compound notices by the MACC which is seeking to recover over RM420 million of 1MDB monies.
“Why did I become a victim? Why did the 80 people become victims?
“Because we do not have a Political Financing Act. For example, one that says political parties cannot receive any foreign fundings,” he was quoted saying during the forum.
He added the Bill needs to look at new issues, such as donations raised to cover a politician’s bail.
“There are a lot of details that must be studied. Some of these issues may appear trivial but it is actually important,” he was quoted as saying.
Yesterday, Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Rais Yatim told Utusan Malaysia that candidates to be the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of Parliament should not include those with unresolved criminal charges or scandals.
Rais reportedly said that this is to ensure the appointment of important figures within Parliament’s ranks truly reflect the integrity and principles of Parliament.