MPs agreeable but questions linger

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 29 Jun 2019

Transparency move: The special motion in Parliament has given rise to questions among lawmakers.

PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers from both sides of the divide are in support of the special motion in Parliament to compel all MPs to declare their income and assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

However, some have expressed reservations on whether it is safe to make such information publicly available.

Umno Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman raised concerns on information privacy, as well as the security of lawmakers and their families after the declarations become public.

“What’s the problem to declare? If it’s required by law, why not?

“But who will protect the sensitive information from being exploited by irresponsible parties?” he asked.

Tajuddin also argued that the asset declaration, which would be published on the MACC website, might cause lawmakers to become the target of crimes.

Jasin MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah, who is the sole opposition MP from Umno in Melaka, said the government should keep such sensitive information confidential.

“I think there is no need to disclose everything to the public,” he said, adding that he has always been open about asset and income declaration.

“This is not new, and we have no problem in showing assets that have been amassed rightfully.

“I will follow the majority to support this motion if the Barisan Nasional bloc collectively agrees to it,” he added.

Charles Santiago (DAP-Klang) said the move to declare assets and income is a good practice as history has shown that lawmakers, ministers and deputies have amassed wealth through the abuse of power, and certain conflicts of interest.

“I think the only issue is sometimes they (MPs) have enormous amounts of money, but it’s from family inheritances.

“This is where they (and their families) can be vulnerable and be exposed to threats like their children or grandchildren getting kidnapped.

“So this has to be thought through. However, I am sure that the MACC has some measures on this, based on best practices,” he said.

Santiago also said that the “heat” should be on ministers, their deputies, as well as MPs who are chairpersons for private and government entities.

Some lawmakers have also questioned the legality of the special motion to be tabled on July 1.

Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS-Kota Baru) questioned why the government had not amended the MACC Act if it was truly serious about asset declaration.

“If the government is serious, then amend the MACC Act and clearly state that MPs are duty-bound to declare their assets – make it legal.

“Our concern is what the purpose of this motion is, as it was never explained to us.

“Will it include close relations and business proxies? Will it be legally binding because motions in Parliament, whether special or not, are not legally binding and not enforceable,” he said.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad welcomed the move.

She added that ministers and deputies during Barisan’s administration had to declare their wealth.

However, these declarations were only made to the Prime Minister, and were not made public.

“I was a deputy minister briefly before and I declared as well, and I have no problems doing so now.

“Currently, there is no law to compel lawmakers to declare their assets, but I think this special motion is a way forward to ensure better transparency,” said Noraini, who is Parit Sulong MP.

Her PAC deputy, Wong Kah Woh (DAP-Ipoh Timur), said it was a good move and a huge step in reform.

“It will definitely eradicate the situation we are seeing now, like on Thursday when (former deputy prime minister) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was charged (with corruption),” he said.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (PPBM-Jerlun) said the special motion is in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitment to ensure inte­grity and governance.

“The opposition should follow suit. So far, lots of lip service with hardly any Opposition MP daring to actually make a thorough declaration of assets,” he said.

Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming said the motion is a great effort by the government to combat corruption.

“It is an important reform which should be supported by all.

“For anyone to hold public office, this must not only be clean but should be seen to be clean.

“A Member of Parliament is the leader of the community, and a good leader should lead by example,” said Nga, who is also Teluk Intan MP.

DAP Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said that opposition lawma­kers should not sabotage the motion if “they have nothing to hide.”

“I think this is also what the people want to see, that their elected representatives uphold integrity,” he added.

PKR MP for Selayang William Leong said there should be no reservations from Pakatan MPs in declaring their assets.

“We already declared our income and assets previously. I see no reason for Pakatan MPs not to declare,” he said.

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