Thursday, January 12, 2012

Penang CM and state exco members declare assets

Penang CM and state exco members declare assets

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the state executive councillors today made a public declaration of their assets at Komtar.

However, ex-officio personnel such as the state secretary, state financial officer and state legal officer were not among them.

NONELim (right) said this asset declaration fulfilled the personal obligation and political commitment of the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government.

“I had proposed such integrity measures to ensure a cleaner leadership, with integrity in line with the competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) principles,” he told reporters at the state government office complex at Komtar.

The six measures include a ban on political parties’ involvement in businesses that can lead to conflicts of interest; open tender system, a freedom of information law and declaration of personal assets.

On whether the assets of spouses and family members would be declared as well, Lim said, “We will take one step at a time.”

Asked how members of the public could verify the assets of the politicians, Lim said this exercise was a “voluntary act” by all state exco members.

The method of declaration is in accordance with the standard used by all civil servants, including filling up a tedious form embracing all assets details, he added.

He said that the special accountant for the task - from accounting firm KPMG - offered his services on a pro-bono basis.

Asked how independent the accountant would be when the company was selected by the state government, Lim said the latter must practise three basic accounting principles.

“These include being independent from the client and no conflicts of interest with either the clients or with the state government,” he said.

The CM’s assets

According to the declaration of assets forms distributed to journalists today, Lim’s investment in Amanah Mutual Bhd showed a slight increase from RM112,843 to RM124,845 between March 2008 and the end of last year.

His Public Mutual Fund investment also rose from 10,000 to 25,989 units and his fixed deposit showed a hike from RM245,000 to RM298,785. Other investment of RM8,000 showed no increase from 2008.

Other than this, Lim owns two shoplots in Malacca, one of which is a joint property, worth RM435,000 and RM530,000. He has taken loans amounting to RM650,000 to pay for the units.

Asked about salaries, Lim said the declaration at this stage included only assets, adding jokingly, “Please give us some time to accumulate our wealth, lah.”

Meanwhile, state exco member and Berapit assemblyperson Lydia Ong said the assets declaration exercise was a good move as it promotes transparency and accountability.

NONE“You can see from our declarations that nothing much has changed in our financial situation, since we took over the state government,” she said.

State exco member and Batu Maung assemblyperson Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (right) attracted interest from reporters as his declaration form showed no ownership of properties nor investments.

He merely owned a Proton Tiara when he took office in 2008, and recently purchased a Honda CRV 2.0 costing RM143,000 which he is paying for with a government loan.

“My house belongs to my wife as she is working. I now live in a rented house. My friends joke that if I have any problem with my wife, I would have to sleep in the car,” he added, drawing laughter from the reporters.

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