C4 pushes for bill on asset declaration next month

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel says the current asset declaration practice in the civil service is not sufficient.

GEORGE TOWN: A civil society group today presented a sweeping asset declaration plan for politicians and senior civil servants to a government watchdog, calling for its measures be included in a bill to Parliament next month.

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), which advocates clean governance, said the plan included the asset declaration of politicians’ spouses and their immediate family members as well.

It said as part of its Public Asset Declaration Framework (PADF) plan, all declarations must be done on an annual basis, failing which the politicians might risk losing their public office.

The PADF also stipulates that all declarations be made available to the public and online, and cover both movable and immovable assets, business interests and gifts.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said the group had met with officials from the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the matter today.

She said the PADF was devised with the help of the Bar Council, and C4 had lobbied political parties for a “robust asset declaration law” in the country.

“The PADF outlines the principles of best practice as well as a sample declaration form which is more comprehensive than how politicians have hitherto declared their assets.

“It also notes that the current asset declaration practice in the civil service is not sufficient, neither in depth nor width and not exposed to public scrutiny,” she said in a statement.

Cynthia said GIACC director-general Abu Kassim Mohamed had told C4 he was “extremely serious” about the issue of asset declaration and would propose measures on the matter to the prime minister in July.

For now, she said, she hoped an asset declaration bill would be formulated with C4’s proposals in mind.

“We must take the strongest stand possible against potential kleptocratic senior leaders in the government because Malaysians need to prevent another 1MDB, already deemed ‘kleptocracy at its worst’.

“Public oversight is the best source of checks and balances against kleptocratic tendencies at every level, for whichever government of the day holding power.”

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said all ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials would be required to declare their assets to him, which would then be copied to GIACC.

Three members of his Cabinet – Mohamed Sabu, Salahuddin Ayub and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad – are among some 60 politicians who have already made public asset declarations through the Invoke Malaysia organisation.

Members of the Penang state executive council have also made similar public declarations in the past, as well as members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

Compel spouses of ministers, MPs to declare assets, C4 tells AG