“Almost 15 months yet no MPs voluntarily declare their assets”

TUN Daim Zainuddin has been charged with failing to declare his assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Jan 29. The former finance minister claimed trial at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for the charge framed under Section 36(2) of the MACC Act pertaining to the disclosure of assets.

This has prompted lawyer-cum-social activist Charles Hector to wonder if a similar ruling should be applied to all Cabinet ministers and unity government MP in particular to declare their income as assets.

“The reason behind asset declaration of Cabinet ministers and MPs is primarily for the people to be re-assured that the monies earned during their term of office is clean – and not derived from abuse of powers (including indulgence in graft practices),” penned Hector in his latest blog.

“Sadly, the asset declaration in the past haven’t been accessible to the people at all times … all asset declarations – everything from past to now – must be always available online for public scrutiny. People need to compare past asset declaration (with the current one) to ascertain the increase/decrease in assets.”

Added Hector: “The public must be invited raise queries if they suspect/believe that the declaration is incomplete or false – perhaps some foreign bank accounts aren’t disclosed or that some land/properties are hidden under someone else’s name.”

Commenting on the RM11.2 mil assets declaration by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his capacity as PKR president on Nov 9, 2022 during the run-up to the 15h General Election (GE15), Hector said since then, there has not been any asset declaration by MPs, senators or Cabinet members.

“In January, the PM’s Office was talking about a new format but what is important is a comprehensive asset declaration that is always open to the public,” asserted the co-founder of NGO Malaysians Against Death Penalty & Torture (MADPET).

Charles Hector

“The public should also be invited to highlight any lies, incomplete declarations, etc by providing such information to an e-mail contact or to directly lodge a report to the police and/or MACC.”

At the end of the day, Hector reckoned that the purpose of asset declaration is to show that a MP/senator or Cabinet member “doesn’t abuse his position to enrich himself or his family”.

“And that’s why asset declaration must be submitted at the very least once a year. Maybe, there must be a law about asset declarations to make false declarations a crime punishable by law,” he added. – Feb 28, 2024

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