Joint Statement by IDEAS and BERSIH: Allocation to the Opposition should be legislated through the Constituency Development Fund Act for transparency and fairness

Kuala Lumpur, 19 April 2024: The announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof that the Unity Government’s Leadership Council has agreed to channel allocations to the opposition is a positive step in the effort to mature Malaysian democracy. He also announced that a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be formulated as the next step in the negotiation process between the government and the opposition.

This newly announced step is something that has long been urged by various parties, including civil society organisations. This demand is based on the principle of equality for all duly elected members of parliament, and also to maintain government stability. The plan to draft an MoU is positive and presents a good opportunity to formalise a transparent, equitable, and fair allocation mechanism. IDEAS’ and BERSIH’s research indicate that the constituency development fund (CDF) system should be legislated through a Constituency Development Fund Act (CDF Act). This Act encompasses the oversight of the CDF system and the expenses of elected representatives.

We propose a clear, transparent, and fair CDF distribution formula, taking into account the number of voters in each constituency. A CDF Committee, comprising representatives from both the government and the opposition, should be established to ensure check and balance in distribution and management of the CDF. It should be emphasized that an MoU, although necessary now, is not sufficient for the long term. The uncertainty in our political arena demands that all institutional reform initiatives be enshrined in law to bind future governments. Biasness in the distribution of allocations is an outdated political practice that needs to be stopped to ensure a more mature, competitive, and progressive political landscape.

Therefore, we hope that the drafting of a CDF Act in this parliamentary term will be one of the commitments of the government and the opposition in the forthcoming MoU negotiations to end discrimination against any potential opposition parties in the future. The drafting of the CDF Act can also be initiated at the state level, where negotiations between the government and the opposition seem to be more open.

Joint statement by:
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH)

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