Sunday 14 October 2012

Proposed foreign funding law ‘attempt to silence’ NGOs, says DAP MP

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — The DAP’s Tony Pua today criticised proposals to regulate the foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), saying it is an “attempt to silence” them.

Yesterday, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said proposals by several MPs to table laws to prevent interference in the country’s affairs and national security should be considered.

“The influx of foreign funds for such purposes will cause us to become agents of foreign powers and we will be forced to create lies to destabilise the country. That is very bad,” Nazri said yesterday.

“The proposal by the minister smacks of an attempt to silence and curb legitimate activities by non-governmental organisations, who are today instrumental in creating greater awareness among the Malaysian public of the various abuses by the Malaysian government.” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP (picture) said in a statement today.

“This is especially so in light of the fact that the furore has started because of Suaram’s exposes over the RM7 billion Scorpene submarines acquisition scandal,” said the DAP national publicity secretary.

Suaram has been probed by six government agencies, with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) saying that it intends to bring charges against the human rights watchdog for “misleading accounts”.

The mainstream media has also reported allegations that Suaram and other NGOs had received foreign funding and are plotting to destabilise the government.

Pua said it was a “preposterous” and “impractical” idea to have laws that “restrict foreign funds” for NGOs, saying that it is “hypocritical” as Umno had also received “foreign funding.”

He also pushed for Umno to disclose the source of its RM40 million “political donation”, which Nazri had said was meant for Sabah Umno.

Nazri had this week told Parliament that the country’s anti-corruption body had cleared Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman, of allegations of money laundering RM40 million, as the money was not for his personal use but for Sabah Umno.

“Hence before Datuk Nazri has any locus standi to propose any such foreign funding laws, he must first disclose the source of foreign funding that Umno has received, in such large sums.”

Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Razak had declined to disclose the source of the RM40 million political donation, saying: “We are not at liberty to disclose... the opposition also receives donations and they don’t disclose.”

“It is a political donation. All parties have a right to receive political donations. As long as it is through the right channels, it is not an offence,” Najib said.

Anti-graft watchdog Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) had pressed for full disclosure of the source of the RM40 million “political contribution”, saying that “absolute transparency” is needed to “rule out the possibility of influence peddling in the political process.”

While supporting moves to ensure that terrorist activities are not carried out in the country, Pua pointed out that Malaysia already has the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.

He also said there are other laws to prevent “entities and persons from becoming foreign agents in this country.”

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