Opposition, Activists: What Happened to Asset Declaration?

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Shortly after becoming prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin promised that all Perikatan Nasional cabinet members would declare their assets within a month after coming to power.

But none has done so after 100 days of holding office and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) asset-declaration website for ministers and MPs is now inaccessible.

Opposition members and anti-corruption activists told The Malaysian Insight this showed that Muhyiddin’s government is unable to assure the public that it is against corruption or that it believed in transparency.

DAP youth chief Howard Lee said there has been no developments since Muhyiddin’s promise in March.

“The Perikatan Nasional government’s refusal to have its MPs and cabinet members declare their assets shows that it is not upholding transparency and accountability.

“If they’re clean, they have nothing to be afraid of,” Lee told The Malaysian Insight.

The situation could also indicate that Muhyiddin is unable to control all his ministers, given PN’s slim majority in Parliament.

The administration is shrouded in rumours of snap elections and talk of its MPs quitting the coalition.

The fighting in the Johor PN government between Umno and Bersatu over positions and control is also leading to talks of another change of government there.

“If after three months, they still haven’t declared their assets, it is a sign that Muhyiddin has weak support and is unable to control his cabinet members and MPs,” said Lee, who is Pasir Pinji assemblyman.

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre) executive director Cynthia Gabriel highlighted problems with the MACC asset-declaration website started by Pakatan Harapan in 2018.

The portal is currently inaccessible.

“What has happened with Muhyiddin Yassin’s promise?  Now even the MACC asset-declaration website is closed.

“The purpose of having ministers declare their assets is to allow the public to assess them.

FMT

“It is all the more important that these declarations be made and are available to the public when the Perikatan government is managing billions of ringgit of public funds to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 – all without tabling any of it in Parliament,” Cynthia said.

She was referring to the first meeting of Parliament for the year on May 18, which only heard the royal address, with social distancing and Covid-19 used as reasons for holding a one-day meeting only.

In March, when Muhyiddin promised his cabinet members would declare their assets in a month’s time, he said PN was committed to fighting corruption.

Since then, however, one of the most controversial developments has been the discharge not amount to an acquittal (DNAA) of Najib Razak’s stepson, Riza Aziz, over money-laundering charges involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd funds.

The DNAA, according to the MACC, is part of a deal for the return of US$107.3 million (RM466 million), in exchange for the conditional release.

Riza’s five charges involved money-laundering of up to US$248 million through a Hollywood production house that he co-owned.

PH instituted asset declaration for MPs and ministers after it won federal power in 2018 and even extended it to spouses of ministers and deputy ministers and political secretaries.

It also approved a motion in Parliament for all MPs to declare their assets to the Dewan Rakyat speaker or face action from the Rights and Privileges Committee.

In reality, however, a political analyst said the public place little importance on asset declarations.

“When it is time for elections, this matter is rarely the consideration of most voters. It will not be enough to turn voters against Perikatan,” said Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani. – TMI