All Coalitions and Parties Should Commit to an Equitable CDF Enactment

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) urges all coalitions and parties to commit to legislating an Equitable Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Enactment and underline their commitment by implementing the same in states governed by them.

As a staunch advocate for equal constituency allocation for all elected representatives, BERSIH is pleased to see the idea is emerging to be a cross-party consensus and a key element of mature politics.

BERSIH welcomes promises made in the manifestos of both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) towards equal funding for both government and opposition. However, both promises should be made more concrete.

BN promises to “continue annual allocation equally for Government and Opposition state assemblypersons”. (“Meneruskan peruntukan tahunan RM 200,000 untuk ADUN Kerajaan dan Pembangkang dengan sama rata.”, page 31 of Ikthiar BN). This commitment does not make clear that RM 200,000 is the total amount all state assemblypersons (ADUNs) would get. In other words, it is possible for Government lawmakers to get extra funding beyond RM 200,000.

Meanwhile, PH promises “AI5: Provide allocations to the government and the opposition in a balanced and appropriate manner.” (TT5: Pemberian peruntukan kepada pihak kerajaan dan pembangkang secara seimbang dan wajar”) under the heading Proposal 3: Pursue A Clean, Efficient and Dignified Government. The wording is so imprecise that one cannot ascertain it means equal CDF for all ADUNs, proportional public finance for government and opposition parties, or both.

Financial discrimination against opposition is well established as a negative incentive or a pretext for opposition elected representatives to crossover. And most parties including BN and PH have suffered party-hopping when in the Opposition.

There can be no political stability without eliminating such incumbent advantages in public fund allocation. BERSIH hence calls for BN, PH, PN, Pejuang, Muda, Warisan, PBM and Putra to commit to tabling (if in government) or supporting (if in opposition) an Equitable Constituency Development Fund Enactment that:

  • Specify clearly allocation for CDF in the annual budget of the State;
  • Specifically set the amount of annual allocation for each ADUN;
  • Outlaws any disparity by party affiliation or position in government;
  • Permits any variation only on objective criteria such as electorate size or landmass; and
  • Provides clear guideline on expenditure and transparent reporting to ensure accountability.

BERSIH also welcomes any coalition or party commit to a Public Finance of Political Parties Enactment to allocate annual allocation to all parties proportional to their vote share in the last state election.

As Malaysian coalitions and parties are notorious in making election promises that are treated frivolously after election, wouldn’t it be more credible for them to show their commitment by realising the same promise by their other state governments?

On their own, BN governs four states: Perlis, Perak, Pahang and Malacca; PH leads three: Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan; and PN helms three: Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Finally, BN and PN together dominates Sabah. Out of these 11 states, only Perak has implemented equal CDF since December 2020 while the same has been promised for Malacca by BN.

BERSIH commends the forward-thinking Perak government and urge BN and PH to announce the implementation of the same for four other states under BN and all three under PH. Likewise, PN should match with the same commitment. That will show the rakyat that they are serious about making reforms and following through on their manifesto promises.

Released by,

Steering Committee of BERSIH