KL taskforce to probe foreign funding of non-profit groups

Datuk Seri Zahid named five entities as being a part of an alleged foreign-funded ''revolution''.
Datuk Seri Zahid named five entities as being a part of an alleged foreign-funded ''revolution''.

Malaysia's Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday that the government has formed a task force to probe foreign funding into non-profit organisations that the authorities believe are involved in inciting a "colour revolution" to "topple the present government".

The task force consists of the police, anti-graft agency, central bank and attorney-general's office, Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said in a wrap-up speech at the Umno assembly.

He named five entities as being a part of this alleged foreign-funded "revolution" - human rights group Suaram, electoral reform group Bersih, the Malaysian Bar and news websites Malaysiakini and the Sarawak Report.

"I want to announce that the government has set up a taskforce... to find all information right down to the roots," said Mr Zahid, to loud applause from the Umno delegates in the main meeting hall.

"And those who committed wrongdoing, just wait for the authorities to take action."

Citing an unnamed intelligence report, Mr Zahid said the authorities believe these organisations have received foreign funding.

Referring to Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah, whom he said had admitted to having received funds from the Open Society Foundation (OSF), Mr Zahid declared: "She admitted that it was to demand for free and fair elections. But the fact is they've organised a yellow revolution to topple the present government." The OSF is an organisation linked to American billionaire George Soros.

Ms Maria said last month that Bersih received one-time funding of RM70,000 from the OSF between 2010 and 2011. She is facing a police investigation over the funds.

The opposition and activists see the investigations into their activities as political harassment.

Bersih held a rally last month to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over allegations of corruption.

Malaysiakini was implicated by the authorities after reports emerged that it received a grant from the OSF. The Malaysian Bar said it received OSF funds to conduct research on migrant workers.

The foreign funding of NGOs became an issue following a document purportedly uncovered by the authorities claiming that organisations tied to Mr Soros were funding groups to influence Malaysia's 2013 election.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'KL taskforce to probe foreign funding of non-profit groups'. Print Edition | Subscribe