PM must declare assets to MACC, says TI-M

Akhbar-Satar-najib

PETALING JAYA: Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) wants Prime Minister Najib Razak and his future successors to declare their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), in the wake of the agency’s recent arrests of civil servants allegedly linked to graft.

Its president Akhbar Satar said if Najib led the way in the matter, there would be no excuse for leaders of the executive, legislative, judiciary and civil service not to do the same.

“The prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers, menteris besar, chief ministers, exco members, judges, the attorney-general, the inspector-general of police, chief of the Malaysian armed forces, they must all declare their assets,” he said.

He said the nature of their jobs in which they hold decision-making positions that can affect public interest demanded that their assets and wealth be scrutinised.

“The declaration of assets, starting with the prime minister, is in line with the belief that transparency and accountability start at the top,” he said in a statement today.

He said this should be done before and after a top official assumes a post, as well as periodically while the official is serving in office.

Akhbar, who assumed the mantle in TI-M succeeding Paul Low who was appointed as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said MACC’s chief commissioner must also declare his assets to Parliament.

He said it would be “appropriate” to establish a special division consisting of forensic accounting experts and investigators to monitor the wealth of top officials, and collect and evaluate information on their assets.

“An asset-profiling system should be introduced to determine how much assets personnel are expected to have, based on their positions, years of service and their present and past emoluments.

“Asset profiling should also include those of their spouses, dependents and immediate family members, along with any business interest or institutions they may be part of.”

He said in the Philippines, citizens had the right to view the financial disclosures of all public officials and employees, as well as their spouses and children who are minors or unmarried and living in their households.

He said the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism had posted the asset declarations of members of the country’s congress and the cabinet in an online database.

Thailand meanwhile passed the Organic Act on Counter Corruption in 1999, making it compulsory for all political office-holders and high-ranking public officials to make full disclosures on themselves as well as their spouses and children who are minors.

Akhbar added that Thailand’s National Counter Corruption Commission also publishes the financial disclosures of a number of the highest ranking public officials in the government gazette.

It has been reported that Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers have declared their assets to the prime minister and MACC.

But chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa said the recent arrests of civil servants by MACC showed there was a lack of integrity in the civil service.

In March, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki said 665 investigation papers were opened in 2016 and up till February this year involving civil servants, resulting in 548 people being arrested and 63 prosecuted.

In one high profile case, MACC arrested seven men, including a senior Johor exco member, his son and special officer.

The suspects were believed to have played a part in the reduction of premium for land approved for housing and industrial projects, as well as conversion of various premises in Johor from Bumiputera to non-Bumiputera status.

MACC also seized 21 luxury cars, five high-powered motorcycles, RM500,000 in cash, including foreign currency, and documents. – FMT

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