Columns, Current Affairs

More UMNO Politicians Named In A Graft Trial, Time For Progress In Political Financing Bill

It is demonstrated that tales of graft and corruption continue to come into damning light under the Keluarga Malaysia administration. 

Most recently, multiple politicians were implicated when several witnesses testified in a graft trial of UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi involving the foreign visa system (VLN) in the High Court in Shah Alam, Selangor. 

The implication was that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Khairy Jamaluddin, Anifah Aman, to name a few, received payments from a company named Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) allegedly in the form of kickbacks. 

The payments in question were detailed in the company’s ledger under multiple codenames made by UKSB to these individuals between 2014 and 2018. To contextualise the gravity of the alleged gratification, one witness has stated that Tan Sri Muhyiddin was paid RM1.3 million in financial contribution in 2018. 

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has since announced that they are conducting a probe into all names mentioned in receiving contributions. However, an announcement to launch an investigation seems to fall short of a greater push for institutional reform to stop these incidents from happening again. 

Hence why the most appropriate channel for this push is by tabling the Political Financing Bill, meant to regulate and monitor political financing. 

The bill is needed in a time where the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has positioned Malaysia to the 62nd position, down by five spots, out of 180 countries in terms of public sector corruption. It has been said that the reason why Malaysia steered off from its path of cleaner government is due to stalled institutional reforms. 

This bill has also been pushed by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council voicing its concerns of the UKSB scandal, calling it ‘particularly troubling’, not just because they involve important senior ministers but also key figures in civil service. 

Several key PH leaders have also spearheaded this call for reform. In particular, the All-Party Parliamentary Malaysia (APPGM) has asked about the status of the Political Financing Bill since last month as it was supposed to be tabled two years ago. APPGM is composed of MPs across the divide namely Wong Shu Qi (DAP-Kluang), Fahmi Fadzil (PKR-Lembah Pantai) and Ahmad Maslan (UMNO-Pontian). 

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