Political Parties, Party Funding, and Corruption

Partyforumseasia is pleased to inform you that our book on the funding of political parties in Southeast Asia is now available. Published by World Scientific in the Asian Politics series, this comparative survey covers all ASEAN countries except Brunei Darussalam which does not have parties.

The recent fall of the Najib/UMNO regime in Malaysia and the fast growing evidence of its massive political corruption is a timely reminder of how important it will be in the future to balance the funding of political parties in the region with the spiraling financial needs in ever more costly election campaigns and the increasing monetization of party activities. The public is now sufficiently aware to demand more transparency and accountability than the parties may like.

The following excerpt from the introductory chapter of the book illustrates how close partisanship and corruption can be. The sort of political Ponzi-scheme in Malaysia probably shows all the different shades of corruption mentioned here:

How to Define and Measure Political Corruption in Southeast Asia?

The word corruption has many different meanings depending on context and viewpoint. The Oxford English Dictionary defines political corruption as “perversion or destruction of integrity in the discharge of public duties by bribery or favor; the use or existence of corrupt practices, especially in a state, public corporation, etc.” Beyond this broad definition, political scientists Heidenheimer and Johnston isolate three narrower definitions, developed and discussed in the social sciences:

  • Public Office-Centered Definitions focus on bribery as the misuse of authority for personal gain, whether monetary or not.
  • Market-Centered Definitions focus on civil servants and elected office holders who see their public office as a business and try to maximize their income.
  • Public Interest-Centered Definitions start from the true interest of the polity, and encompass even formally legal actions which are not benefiting the community at large, especially at the initiative of special interest groups.
    (Power Broking in the Shade, p. 6)

The book can be ordered from World Scientific under: