The Prime Minister (PM), Ministers in the cabinet and Head of public institutions are urged to declare their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to ensure transparency and accountability. Spouses and close-family members shall be included in the process for added effectiveness.
The head of the MACC on the other hand, should declare his/her assets to the parliament. Such steps would raise the confidence and encourage others, above and below, to publicly disclose and declare their assets.
Currently, members of the cabinet declare their assets to the PM, whereas, heads of ministries and departments including the Attorney-General, Chief Justice, Inspector-General of Police, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the highest member in the civil service declares assets to the Chief Secretary of the government.
The declaration of assets should be done before and after the holding of a position in the office, with net value analysis conducted periodically – advisable to do it once every 2 years.
In this context, the MACC has professional Forensic Accountants and investigators that can monitor and take firm action against those who fail to abide by the principles.
In the Philippines, The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has placed the property declaration of congressman members of the cabinet and their respective spouses online. Similarly in Thailand, the National Counter Corruption Commission had gazetted the asset declaration of senior government officials and their respective spouses.
The practice of asset declaration can deter abuses of power by preventing conflict of interest and detecting misappropriation of public funds. It can further prevent cases of false accusations. Clarifying the origins of the gained personal wealth, can moreover increase the people’s trust in political institutions and the civil service.
We believe that the public declaration of assets would not bring about any harm as perceived by many, as the names of the top 10 most riches people in Malaysia is often publicised on the media and none of them have faced any trouble for declaring their wealth.
Dato’ Akhbar Satar
Transparency International Malaysia