All Members of Governments, MPs, Members of State Legislative Assemblies and their spouses should declare their assets to uphold the principle of accountability to the people.
I had just returned from U.S. two days ago after being away for 10 days to attend the International Criminal Court Assembly at United Nations Headquarters, New York.
I wish to refer to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s announcement on December 11 that he and all 11 state executive councillors would declare their assets to the public within a month.
He said that the declaration would include assets before they assumed office on March 2008 and after it, so the people can make the necessary comparison.
I welcome his announcement as this shows DAP’s commitment to the principles of accountability and transparency.
Public declaration of assets will not only be a tool to prevent corruption, it can also help to protect one from false allegations.
In August last year, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin had in response to call that Cabinet Ministers declare their assets publicly, said that it was up to the Prime Minister to decide whether to adopt such a practice.
It has now been more than a year but Dato Sri Najib has still not shown the political commitment to implement this important policy to uphold the principle of accountability to the people.
In fact, immediately after the March 2008 general election, then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had directed Cabinet members to declare their assets.
According to media report, Ministers, as well as deputy ministers, were required to fill in asset declaration forms with the MACC’s predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), with the intention of making the information available online for public scrutiny.
But Abdullah backed down from this plan after facing resistance from ministers, who felt that it would be an invasion of privacy for the public to know their financial worth.
Invasion of privacy is not and cannot be a justification for rejecting the practice of public declaration of assets.
Neither should safety and security be used as reasons for not supporting such practice.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh, who was also present at Press Conference held with Lim Guan Eng had said that DAP central executive committee ( CE C) would also plan for all its Members of Parliament to declare their assets soon.
I welcome Karpal’s suggestion and I believe that not only members of Government and MPs should declare their assets; members of the state legislative assemblies should also do so.
Additionally, as there is public suspicion that one can hide his/her wealth in the spouses’ names, the declaration of assets should also involve the spouses.