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Cenbet raises red flags over Harapan Coin

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 15/11/2018 FMT Reporters

a close up of a sign © Provided by FMT MEDIA SDN BHD PETALING JAYA: Civil society group Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) has joined those questioning pro-Pakatan Harapan (PH) cryptocurrency Harapan Coin, saying the new government appears “overly eager” to adopt “trendy but untested schemes”.

In a statement, it raised several concerns including over the involvement of Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, who is also Amanah communications chief.

Cenbet vice-president Simon Lim said political parties should focus on political work instead of involving themselves in cryptocurrencies at a time when public awareness on the matter was still low.

“A political party in the ruling coalition proposing its own digital currency to the regulators raises many red flags, especially since Khalid said the crypto could be used for official transactions such as paying fines,” he said.

Khalid’s admission that 30% of the funds raised is channelled to the system administrator also goes against the principles of good governance, he added.

Noting Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) announcement in February that cryptocurrencies are not recognised as legal tender in the country, he asked where buyers would get recourse if something were to go wrong.

“What is the coin value based on? Isn’t a political party having its own currency similar with the organisation going for listing?”

Lim said the original aim of the Harapan Coin to raise funds for the coalition also prompted concerns about foreign political meddling.

“In the digital currency ecosystem, owners of accounts can stay anonymous if they choose to. This allows foreign parties to influence our political processes.

“This is unlike conventional political donations where the paper trail is easier to trace and actions like blacklisting shell companies can be taken.”

Khalid, who said last night that he had been involved in the project even before the May 9 polls, previously announced that paperwork on the Harapan Coin would be presented to BNM and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In a video on the Harapan Coin website, he said 30% of contributions from the sale of the coin would go to the system developer, while another 30% would go to Amanah and the balance to PH.

He was also reported as saying that a monitoring body should be created to ensure the project is not manipulated by individuals.

“When we manage and use it well, there will be value to it. People will buy (the coin) and the value will go up when it is used for government matters and other purposes,” he said last night.

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