Election hopefuls to be screened

By Farrah Naz Karim, NST

PUTRAJAYA: Potential candidates for the 13th general election are expected to come under the microscope of several enforcement agencies including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Names of those being investigated by MACC or who could be the subject of an investigation would be classified under a list that would be sent to the leaders of their respective political parties, a source said yesterday.

“It will then be up to the leaders to decide whether the person should be fielded as a candidate,” the source added.

It is understood that a different vetting process would also be carried out by the police and the Insolvency Department that could lead to a potential candidate having to sit out the elections.

The source told the New Straits Times that in past general elections, only Barisan Nasional (BN) submitted its list of candidates to the MACC for vetting.

The MACC, he said, also gave an undertaking to political parties using their vetting service, of guaranteed protection and secrecy of their submitted lists of names.

“The move by the BN to submit its list to MACC was on a voluntary basis, as they feel it was for their own good.

“A candidate who is being investigated for corruption or abuse of power, in the end, will only be a liability and party leaders know the importance of the screening process.

“It would be good for opposition parties if they, too, send in their lists as they, too, would want candidates who are untainted,” the source said.

In the 2008 general election, the BN government, following the MACC vetting process, had withdrawn several names from its list of potential candidates, the source added.

The BN had then submitted the names a month ahead of the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament.

In the vetting process, the MACC would point out those being probed for corruption or abuse of power, while the police would check on their involvement in criminal acts.

The police, it is understood, had for some time now, been running checks on politicians en bloc, that is on both sides of the political divide.

The political parties would be alerted if their choice of candidates were already on a police watch list or under investigation.

“Political parties would not be compelled to withdraw these names as candidates.

“However, it is only logical for them to want to discard any unwanted baggage as voters, too, would want their candidates to be clean.” For the 13th general election, thousands of politicians will be fighting it out for the 222 parliamentary and 505 state assembly seats.

In view of this, the source said it was all the more important for political parties to have their candidates’ lists vetted as there would be new and unknown candidates as well.

He cited Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s recent announcement, that its shortlist of candidates featured some new faces, as a reason that it should go through the authorities’ vetting process.