14 JULY 2021
Mandatory Declaration of Assets Act needed now!
The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center) supports the recommendation for a mandatory Declaration of Assets Act as stressed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), to boost accountability of government officials and elected representatives, track illicit enrichment and deter corruption and abuse of public office.
Malaysians have witnessed the shocking numbers of politicians, Ministers and even a former Prime Minister involved in horrifying tales of unexplained wealth, living beyond their means and outrightly abusing their powers in public office for personal gain.
Ongoing court testimonies of many a political leader have now provided sordid details of blatant thievery of public assets and misuse of public monies, that have gone on over the years. It was impossible for the rakyat to keep watch as the plundering took place behind secrecy laws.
The push for an asset declaration law saw new life when the Dewan Rakyat had unanimously approved a motion to make such a declaration compulsory in 2019. A portion of the members of the administration, members of parliament, and senators have stubbornly refused to make their declarations.
Checks on the MACC website has offered so little transparency on details, the whole act became a laughable exercise, initially showing only cumulative salaries and devoid of necessary details needed for a full and more complete public scrutiny of the asset disclosure system.
This act will serve to empower our anti-corruption enforcement with the legislative backing they need to properly act against those yet to declare their assets, or have made false declarations.
Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil, MACC’s deputy chief commissioner for prevention, revealed that the MACC is unable to verify any declaration documents received, nor can they take action against those who have not declared their assets, and this speaks volumes of the urgent need for an asset disclosure Act to be expedited.
C4 Center stands behind this call for such an act, having been a voice for pushing for a robust and comprehensive public asset declaration by politicians.
In 2017, in collaboration with the Malaysian Bar, C4 Center had produced a legal framework document for the establishment of a public asset declaration act, available for download at http://www.c4center.org/pledge-public-asset-declaration-framework.
Currently, investigations can only be conducted on individuals seen leading extravagant lifestyles and in possession of suspicious wealth under Section 36 of the MACC Act 2009, only upon the opening of an investigation file on other matters.
C4 Center has previously called for Section 36 to be amended to strengthen the enforcement powers of the MACC to be able to effectively investigate politically-exposed persons with unexplained wealth.
C4 Center further recommends the following:
- To give potency to the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) and its implementation, we urge for the drafting of an asset declaration law to be expedited.
- We urge for civil society and professionals to be consulted in the drafting stage, and for inclusive feedback from all stakeholders in getting a robust and transparent asset declaration system in place.
- We also recommend that not only are politicians and government officials required to make a public declaration of assets annually, their spouses and adult children are required to declare their assets and income as well.
- In the lead up to GE 15, we urge Malaysians to build added scrutiny on candidates vying to be elected representatives on their personal wealth, and to clearly commit to an asset declaration law.
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)
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