Make constituency development funds available to all elected reps

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Stop the practice of allowing so-called ‘BN coordinators’ to have access to these funds, urges Francis Loh.

Aliran executive committee members preparing for their submissions to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform

In between elections, the BN’s elected representatives have access to the so-called ‘Constituency Development Funds’ (CDF) to finance their favoured minor capital works projects and/or to sponsor programmes of particular schools, associations, religious organisations and residential communities.

In our research we have learnt that the CDF amounted to RM300000 per year in the case of the MP, RM140000 a year in the case of each assembly member in Penang in 1997. As the1999 elections approached, the allocation to the MPs was increased to RM400000. The Chief Minister and other members of the State Exco, by virtue of the positions held, were entitled to more.

The allocation was usually broken down into two ‘votes’: one for roads, drains and other minor public works projects; the other for the maintenance and upkeep of schools and other requests. Just before the 2008 general election, each BN MP was granted RM600000 for their respective constituencies, and this they spent within three months.

These funds were managed by the State Development Office (SDO). When the wakil rakyat recommended a particular project, the SDO would usually approve an allocation for the project which would then be forwarded to the JKR (or public works department) which would carry out the project or contract it out to the private sector.

It is noteworthy that such funds were not made available to elected wakil rakyat belonging to the opposition parties. It was the CDF which facilitated the running of the BN service centres. Consequently, although the opposition wakil rakyat might recommend a particular project, it was not unlikely that it would be rejected unless the circumstances were compelling.

Following GE12, so-called ‘BN co-ordinators’ have been appointed to those constituencies which fell into the hands of the Opposition. Although these co-ordinators are unelected, they have access, via the SDO, to such CDF. This is most unethical and extremely unfair.

Unfortunately, after the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) came to power in several states following GE12, they, too, have adopted a similar discriminatory policy vis-à-vis the elected BN state legislative assemblymen (SLAs). Whereas the PR SLAs have access to CDFs at the state level, the BN SLAs do not. Two wrongs do not make a right!

Recommendations

To enhance democracy and the meaning of the Malaysian electoral system, Aliran calls upon the federal and all state governments to be fair and to make available CDFs to all elected MPs and SLAs, regardless of their party affiliation. This must be a right given to all wakil rakyat.

Accordingly, Aliran calls upon the federal government to stop the practice of allowing so-called ‘BN coordinators’ to have access to the CDF. As unelected politicians, they have no right whatsoever to decide on how the rakyat’s money ought to be spent.

Dr Francis Loh is president of Aliran

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes its only right as the Rakyat are actually paying for all these developments. No right thinking administration should deprive their Rakyat from development as the funds that are being dish out are from the Rakyat who pays for it via all types of taxes, licenses etc.

  2. Enlightening article. The BN have been doing this for years, thus creating an imbalance between BN and non BN constitiuencies. 2 wrongs never make a right, but if you were to do catch up on all the years of neglect due to lack of special funding, what would YOU do? Did the BN care that even those who vote for the opposition are also the tax paying rakyat, whatever their political leanings?They (BN)have had years of funding advantage over the opposition.Take all this to the NATIONAL level, then you see the HUGE imbalance, only this time on racial lines.

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