Dr M: Asset declaration to be extended to Opposition

GIACC’s proposal augurs well with the federal govt’s aim to tighten the noose on corruption


OPPOSITION lawmakers will soon be subjected to compulsory asset declarations, as the federal government plans to expand the current directive of ministers and deputy ministers.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) has proposed for the asset declaration to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to be extended to Opposition parliamentarians.

The expansion augurs well with the federal government’s aim to tighten the noose on corruption.

“Yes, this is because the Opposition has the power to criticise the government. For a fee, they may voice a criticism made by somebody else. So, they must also declare their assets.

“We (will) have to go through the Dewan Rakyat Speaker before this can be initiated,” he told a news conference after chairing a Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption in Putrajaya yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said the government is also considering another proposal by the GIACC on setting up a “gift policy”, which will outline the types and value of gifts that civil servants, including ministers, can accept from anyone.

“During my first tenure as PM, I received 26 cars. But of course, I gave them back. If you want to see them, you can go to Langkawi.

“Today, the gifts cannot be worth more than RM500. We can, however, receive food and flowers. Now, my house is full of food and flowers,” Dr Mahathir said in a jest.

Earlier in January, the government unveiled an ambitious five-year plan to clamp down on corruption in the government sector. The plan included broad changes to the appointment process for key positions, a requirement for ministers to publicly declare their assets and new laws to regulate political funding.

Currently, Segamat MP and businessman Datuk Seri Dr R Santhara Kumar tops the list of income declarations with total assets worth RM132.12 million. The list is made public by the MACC via an online portal.

Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham comes in second with total assets worth RM77.01 million, followed by Dr Mahathir in third with RM32.36 million worth of assets.

The list reports declared incomes of some 150 MPs and some of their family members, in a bid by the Pakatan Harapan government to prove its transparency.

In the meeting yesterday, Dr Mahathir said the special Cabinet committee have agreed for all government projects to have the consideration and evaluation of technical agencies such as the Public Works Department to ensure their viability and accountability.

The committee also agree that individuals appointed as chairman, CEO or board of director on government-linked companies must go through several checks, including bankruptcy status and academic qualification.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia’s performance in the Corporate Governance Watch report has also improved from the seventh position in 2016 to the fourth spot last year, following efforts taken by the government to combat corruption.

He said the government is looking to establish a special task force to coordinate efforts that will allow Malaysia to continue to excel in the index. The task force will be chaired by Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.