Money in politics: a recipe for corruption in Malaysia

Published date26 October 2020
Date26 October 2020
Subject MatterAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorKhairul Saidah Abas Azmi,Rozaimah Zainudin
Money in politics: a recipe for
corruption in Malaysia
Khairul Saidah Abas Azmi
Department of Accountancy, Faculty of Business and Accountancy,
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and
Rozaimah Zainudin
Department of Finance and Banking, Faculty of Business and Accountancy,
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Purpose This paperaims to investigate how money in politicscontributes to corruption in Malaysia.
Design/methodology/approach This study used in-depth semi-structured interviews to collect
primary data. The interviewswere conducted with two elite groups comprising seven politicians and seven
corporateleaders. Data were then analysed using a thematic analysisapproach.
Findings The f‌indings indicate how money in politics contributes to corruption in Malaysia. Various
types of corruption in the country are identif‌ied,namely political donation, bribery and money politics. This
study also providesevidence of the underlying factors driving moneypolitics.
Practical implications This paper offers valuable insights to policymakers and enforcement agencies for
vigorous prosecution or appropriate sanction against the perpetrators. Especially on the weak regulation of political
f‌inance in Malaysia, this paper provides insights into how the weakness is used to manufacture corruption.
Originality/value This paper providesevidence of how money politics cultivate corruptactivities, which
are relatively sensitiveand controversial by nature. The rarely obtained views from the elite groups providea
signif‌icantvalue to research.
Keywords Money politics, Political f‌inancing, Corruption, Malaysia, Elites
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
[...] candidates begin to bribe delegates with money and gifts. As there is competition among
candidates, the bribes increase in value [...] A persons quality of work or capabilities is not the
basis for his nomination. The basis for supporting him is the value for the bribe that he is willing
to hand out. (Mahathir Mohamad, 1996, cited in Ghazali, 2004, p. 55)
In any democratic election, the election campaign process and political party operations
require funding. While seeking funding for political activities is common, it also leads to
problems. Pinto-Duschinsky(2002) explains that political f‌inancing or also known as money
politics contributes to scandals and corruption (Lambsdorff, 2002). When money politics is
prevalent, it will heightenthe incidents of corrupt practices in a country and further dampen
economic development, which could ultimately jeopardise public welfare. Money politics
Declaration: This study has been funded by the Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of
Malaya, Malaysia (GPF7i-2018).
It is acknowledged that further research with a larger sample size comprising the elites may
produce dif‌ferent f‌indings. Another comparison involving other groups of participants with the same
theory or a dif‌ferent yet relevant theory may unveil another insightful story.
Corruption in
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.28 No. 2, 2021
pp. 593-606
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-07-2020-0147
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