Take stern action against MPs who don’t declare assets, says NGO

Cynthia Gabriel says the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism had proposed that the asset declaration be codified and punitive action clearly stated.

PETALING JAYA: An anti-corruption NGO today pushed for punitive action against MPs who refuse to declare their assets, saying a Standing Order was “not potent enough” to compel elected representatives to do so.

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) noted that only 160 out of the 222 MPs – with 139 from Pakatan Harapan – had declared their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as of Dec 5.

This was despite a Standing Order to refer MPs who refuse to declare their assets to the Rights and Privileges Committee under Meeting Rule 80, and a two-month extension given to them.

“Obviously, the Standing Order alone is not potent enough to compel MPs to declare their assets as part of their accountability as lawmakers.

“C4 believes real punitive action must follow those who refuse to comply with the requirement,” its executive director, Cynthia Gabriel, said in a statement.

Cynthia said this was why C4 had called for asset declaration to be codified, and punitive action clearly stated.

Once it was codified, she said, proper regulatory methods with punitive action would be clearly outlined.

She said the government, on the other hand, must ensure that the new law was applicable to lawmakers and public officials at all levels of government for asset declaration to be made public.

Cynthia urged the Dewan Rakyat speaker to suspend MPs who refused to declare their assets, saying the two-month extension already showed “a great deal of leniency on the errant MPs”.

She said MPs must further declare their business interests to avoid the worsening trends of conflict of interests.

“We offer our cooperation to the PH government to monitor and verify the submissions made, and measure where red flags could be identified,” she said.