Press Release: ASSET DECLARATION MUST BE COMPELLED BY LAW MANDATORY FOR POLITICIANS, A HIGH-RISK GROUP

 

 

 

ASSET DECLARATION MUST BE COMPELLED BY LAW

MANDATORY FOR POLITICIANS, A HIGH-RISK GROUP

 

 

The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center) finds the defiance of MPs from the opposition parties on asset declaration, appalling.

 

While we applaud the Pakatan Harapan MPs for putting the word to deed in partaking in this difficult but necessary exercise, in tandem with the Speaker of the House full support for much-needed reforms, following a motion that was passed in Parliament earlier this year, it remains farcical that lawmakers in the opposition are still making one excuse after another, to avoid declaring assets.

 

 

Let’s talk numbers

 

160 out of the 222 MPs have thus far declared their assets to the MACC by December 5. All 139 MPs from the ruling Pakatan Harapan have complied. The remaining MPs who have yet to declare their assets are from the opposition block and 2 independents, riling up more and more unsubstantiated reasons, openly resisting the requirement to do so.  

 

 

Should the Recalcitrant MPs be punished?

 

An extension of two full months from 1st October 2019 to 5th December 2019 was granted to MPs to declare their assets. Instead of complying to the order, excuses, all in which has no legitimate standing were given. C4 Center believes real punitive action must follow those who refuse to comply with the requirement. It is for this very reason we urge that Asset Declaration must be codified, and punitive actions clearly stated.

 

 

The Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders will NOT suffice

 

Currently, the order necessitates MPs, their spouses and children under age 21 to disclose their financial worth. MPs who are found culpable can be cited for holding the House in contempt, or suspended from debating, and be called to attention to the Rights and Privileges Committee under Meeting Rule 80.

 

While Standing Orders are a good first requirement spearheaded by the government, we assert a legal requirement is necessary to execute this exercise fully and comprehensively. Once it is codified, proper regulatory methods with punitive action clear outlined. The government must ensure that the new law is applicable to lawmakers and public officials at all levels of government for asset declaration to be made public.

 

All relevant forms concerning asset declaration must be made accessible to members of the public and machine-readable. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) stayed on course on the commitment to ease the process by uploading the relevant information on its website. The law must also require business interests to be revealed on top of income and assets.

 

 

Why do we need MPs to declare their assets?

 

1.      To promote the principles of transparency and accountability which represent the cornerstone of representative democracy;

2.      To eradicate corruption which is an insidious plague that undermines the rule of law and democracy;

3.      To fulfil Malaysia’s international commitment and obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption which Malaysia ratified on 24th September 2008 (“UNCAC”); and

4.      To ensure the free flow of information concerning public officials which is guaranteed under Article 10 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

 

 

Recommendations:

 

1)      Obviously, the Standing Order alone is not potent enough to compel MPs to declare their assets as part of their accountability as lawmakers. C4 Center advocates a strong asset declaration law.

2)      C4 Center reminds that the asset declaration law is to track suspicious and exponential wealth over the 5-year term, as elected representatives, and politicians holding huge tracts of public funds meant for the public good.

3)      C4 Center is in the opinion that extensions should not be given based on the uncooperative and culpable MPs excuses. The extension of two full months already shown a great deal of leniency on the errant MPs. We urge the Speaker to use his powers to execute possible suspensions.

4)      MPs must further declare their business interests to avoid the worsening trends of conflict of interests.

5)      We offer our cooperation to the PH government to monitor and verify the submissions made, and measure where red flags could be identified.

 

Released by:
Cynthia Gabriel (Ms.)
Executive Director, C4 Center