How much does it cost to contest in an election?

Want to be a wakil rakyat? Other than getting the votes, you would need sufficient funds to make it through the whole election process.


For starters, candidates have to deposit RM10,000 for a parliamentary seat and RM5,000 for a state seat, to the Returning Officer before or during nomination day. A candidate loses the deposit if he/she fails to secure 1/8 or 12.5% of the total number of votes polled by all the candidates in a constituency.


This is just the deposit. Candidates put up buntings, banners, posters and other materials during the campaign period. They have to clean up the mess after polling day. To make sure they do, candidates have to pay a deposit of RM5,000 for parliamentary elections and RM3,000 for state elections. This deposit will be returned if the candidates remove all the materials put up in public places within 14 days after the election.


There are also other costs in running a campaign, such as logistics, materials, etc. However, there is a limit to how much they can spend in their campaign – officially anyway. Candidates are allowed to incur expenses of up to RM200,000 for parliamentary seats and RM100,000 for state assembly seats only.


The report or return of election expenses has to be forwarded to the State Election Officer within 31 days after the election results are published in the Gazette. Failure to submit the return within the prescribed time would be deemed an illegal practice under the Election Offences Act, 1954. The person convicted of this offence can face a fine of RM5,000 and lose the seat. He/she can also be disqualified from contesting for five years.


It’s not cheap to contest in an election in Malaysia, although it’s nowhere near the millions of dollars splurged in the race to be president of the United States, which involves a more complex funding regulation.


(Source: Election Commission, election laws)

3 responses to “How much does it cost to contest in an election?”

  1. something I’ve always wondered about, since the ’99 election but hv yet to get an answer…

    what happens to the deposits lost when a candidate fails to get 1/8th of the vote? into what account does the deposit cash go?

  2. From someone who read about it from a mail list.


    As a lead-in to a longer piece on election spending, this is fine.
    But if it’s left on its own, it’s not particularly interesting, maybe
    even potentially misleading the reader to think that the EC is trying
    to maintain a level playing field, etc. As in so many other instances
    in this country, the regulations on election spending limits looks
    fine, but in reality, anyone who has participated in any elections
    knows they are honoured in the breach by all too many BN candidates.
    With a few exceptions, opposition candidates don’t often have the
    funds to breach those limits.

    Also that last comparison with the US prez race is misleading;
    wouldn’t be if the comparison were with congressional or senatorial
    contests. We don’t directly elect a prez or a pm; to be pm, you must
    be the leader of a winning party. So the elections cost to get to be
    pm is of the order of RM200k x 222, or RM44.4 million as the party is
    going to have to contest in all seats — and that’s assuming that one
    adheres to the specified limit. But, wait, that’s not all. There’s
    all those state seats as well, and no party leader can realistically
    hope to become pm without also contesting (and winning) those seats.
    That pushes the amount up to over RM100 million, keeping to the
    statutory limits.

    Anyway, back to my main point: Is there going to be a follow-up piece
    estimating how much is actually spent?