NGOs want political parties to adopt good governance agenda

PETALING JAYA: A coalition of civil society organisations wants political parties in the country to endorse and adopt a five-point institutional reform agenda the group has drawn up.

Giat (or the Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency) said it has forwarded the "Good Governance Agenda" to 17 political parties, including those from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan, and has given them two weeks (until March 15) to respond.

"If they don't respond to us, it just shows they are not committed. And we will inform the voters who responded and who didn't," Society for the Protection of Human Rights (Proham) secretary-general Ivy Josiah told a press conference, here, today.

Apart from Proham, other members of Giat include Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), Transparency International-Malaysia and the Sinar Project, among others.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said she was confident most of the parties would respond, claiming that parties from both sides of the political divide would want to prove to each other that they are not corrupt, so close to the elections.

The five demands that Giat have asked the political parties to commit to are:

>endorse legislation that would affirm the independence of institutions, most importantly the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney-General's Chambers;
>enact a national Freedom of Information law, review the Official Secrets Act 1972 and adopt open data principles;
>require by law that all cabinet members, MPs, elected officials and senior public officials publicly declare their assets;
>improve participatory democracy within all levels of government, including budgeting processes and holding local council elections; and
>require by law that all political parties publicly declare all forms of income and expenditure

Josiah said she expects resistance from some of the parties in accepting the reform agenda, but said she was optimistic, adding that most of the points were not something new.

She added that to date, she has only received informal responses from a couple of parties from Pakatan, having sent out letters to all the parties on Feb 26.