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Election Watch

CORRUPTION: Asset declarations can also include liabilities

Date: 20 January 2012

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Advisory Board, in one of its rare public announcements, proposed to the government that members of the federal administration, including Cabinet members, make statutory declarations on their assets, to be kept by the MACC. 

At present, ministers and their deputies only make asset declarations, which are kept by the prime minister's office.

MACC has also suggested that the asset declaration, made under oath, should include assets of their spouses, children and immediate family members.

The board's chairman, Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh, and its members must be congratulated for this initiative.

However, these proposals can be improved considerably by considering the following matters:

Firstly, the asset declaration should also include their liabilities.

Secondly, MACC must be made responsible for monitoring major changes in the asset declaration and to independently investigate any suspicious changes in assets and liabilities.

Thirdly, it would be more effective if an independent task force, as proposed by the Chief Justice Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, instead of MACC itself, could be appointed to study the asset declarations.

Even better still, why not get the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, which has opposition members, or a judicial commission, to review and require MACC to investigate unusual changes in the declaration of assets and liabilities?

Fourthly, the Advisory Board should insist that all members of state legislative assemblies and local authorities should also be subject to the same requirements of scrutiny of their assets and liabilities.

Fifthly, the board should recommend that tighter controls be imposed on political parties in the general election.

Money politics is the mother of corruption and yet so little has been done to reduce grand corruption in this field.

Unless the board comes out strongly against money politics, all its initiatives to fight corruption could come to naught.

The public perception would then be that there is insufficient political will on all sides to stamp out corruption.

Then our ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index would continue to deteriorate.

This would harm the public and hurt investor confidence in our nation.

We must all, therefore, firmly resolve and act with stronger determination to combat the cancer of corruption in our country with greater urgency before it is too late.

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