PETALING JAYA: Political leaders should declare if they had accounts in offshore tax havens or if they have accounts in banks outside Malaysia, says Bersatu strategist Rais Husin Mohamed Ariff.
His proposal, coming in the wake of the Pandora Papers leak which linked several prominent Malaysians to offshore accounts, sparked a debate on his Twitter account with some commenters giving a cynical response.
Rais had said in his Tweet yesterday that “It’s better to declare. Leaders must declare. Corruption has become a way of life here.”
While many followers agreed, some were cynical.
One social media user who goes by @lefthandtrader pointed out that some leaders even lied about their academic qualifications and “cut the queue” when going for Friday prayers.
“What more when it comes to matters related to money and property.”
Another commenter, “Uncle Lucq” said that Malaysians had been required to declare overseas accounts since 2019 under current tax law. People are just ignorant or think they are above the law.
Twitter user @JsPalani said the Dewan Rakyat speaker had previously rejected a motion to discuss the Pandora Papers, and noted that there had been occasions when wrongdoing went unpunished and whistleblowers were harassed.
Another pointed out that there was “no way” politicians in “Bolehland” (a derogatory term for Malaysia) would declare their accounts.
“They should but the big question (is), would they?” one identified as David Wong asked.
One user, @aMabzing, said Rais should have kicked up a fuss “with the same intensity” when his party was in power. Bersatu was part of the Pakatan Harapan government and led the Perikatan Nasional government.
Another said that Rais should start by convincing former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his sons “to do it first”. (Mahathir and his son Mukhriz were founder members of Bersatu, while his other sons are prominent businessmen.)
The Pandora Papers data leak involves nearly 12 million documents and other records from offshore service providers who help set up and manage shell companies around the world.
Among those who have been linked to offshore accounts in tax havens were finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, PKR’s William Leong as well as the parents of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.
Police have said they are currently investigating the details revealed in the leak.