Backbencher Wants Opposition Leader Zahid to Declare Assets

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Mahathir claimed that Zahid possessed nine figures in his bank account when the latter declared his assets to him in 1996.

The Pakatan Harapan administration’s efforts to elevate the status of opposition leader should come with a price – the person must be subjected to asset declaration as well.

This was proposed by Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir (Harapan-Johor Bahru) during his speech on the motion of thanks for the royal address today.

“The new government led by the MPs for Langkawi (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) and Pandan (Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) have asked all cabinet members and backbenchers to declare their assets through MACC within three months of taking office.

“The Sungai Petani MP (Johari Abdul) has (called for) the opposition leader to be treated like a minister. (Since) Harapan ministers have agreed to declare their assets, I believe…that the opposition leader should declare his assets (as well),” he said.

The position of opposition leader, which comes with a salary and an office in Parliament, is currently held by former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk).

On July 9, Mahathir had announced that all Harapan lawmakers must provide full asset declaration to MACC.

Under Item 14 of the Harapan manifesto, the coalition pledged to compel all lawmakers – including those in the Upper House – and government officials with Jusa C ranking and above, to declare their assets and income.

The manifesto did not state whether the declaration would be made public. However, Harapan had pledged to make MACC accountable to Parliament instead of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Mahathir, however, said making the declarations public could lead to privacy concerns as it would also involve family members.

In 2012, when former Umno minister Nazri Abdul Aziz argued along similar lines, numerous quarters, including then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng had expressed disagreement.

Lim was disappointed with MACC for not supporting the public declaration of assets for ministers.

Bloomberg

“I understand there may be security risks if family members of office-bearers declare their assets to the public, but at least the office-bearers themselves should do so,” he had said.

Prior to the Umno polls last month, Zahid who won the top post, said he was prepared to declare his assets. However, this did not materialise.

Bernama

In August 2017, Mahathir claimed that Zahid possessed nine figures in his bank account when the latter declared his assets to him in 1996.

“Perhaps Zahid has forgotten his asset declaration made to me as prime minister when he was appointed as Umno Youth chief.

“When I asked where he obtained the RM230 million in his bank account, his answer was unclear,” said Mahathir, who was the prime minister at the time.

Following this, Zahid said he was willing to be probed by MACC.

He said he was the Umno Youth leader at that time, with no position in the government and a successful businessman.

As such, he said there was nothing wrong if he had the money in his account as the assets he owned were bought in a legitimate manner.

Meanwhile, Akmal also urged the federal government to ensure that political appointees in government agencies or GLCs declare their assets as well.

He also reminded the federal government of Harapan’s promise to implement a Freedom of Information Act.

“This is important in a democracy because information held by the government does not belong to the government… Without such information, (the public) cannot make informed decisions,” he said. – Malaysiakini