Asset declaration motion passed

KUALA LUMPUR (July 2): The Dewan Rakyat has passed a special motion yesterday that compel members of parliament (MPs) to declare their assets — including those held by their spouses, children and trustees.

It was approved following a five-hour debate session where opposition MPs argued the rationale of regulating asset declaration via a motion instead of amending the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2019.

Twenty-six MPs stood up to debate the motion, before it was passed via a voice vote called by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, following a winding-up speech by de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong (pic).

When the speaker asked whether the MPs agreed with the motion, there was a chorus of “agree” from the government’s side. When he asked if anyone disagreed with it, the hall was silent. “There is no voice that disagreed [with the motion],” he noted in surprise, before sitting was adjourned.

This means the asset declaration has to be made to the speaker within three months, which is by Oct 1.

If an MP fails to do so, the speaker will table a motion to refer him or her to the Committee of Privileges, which is made up of the speaker as the chairman, and six members nominated by the Committee of Selection.

It is the duty of the committee to consider any matters given to it and issue a statement regarding the matter to the House.

Liew said the opposition should not worry about being investigated after the implementation of this asset declaration motion.

“The declaration will not necessarily come with an investigation, unless there is a complaint filed with the authorities. This is just a declaration, so there is nothing to worry about,” he told reporters at parliament lobby later.

“As MPs, when they were elected by the people, it is their responsibility to report to the people the income and assets they have when they were elected. When this parliament is dissolved, then people can also refer and see how much increments [there have been] in their assets,” he added.

Liew said this is the first step for the country to form a transparent Dewan Rakyat, where MPs are dignified and transparent.

Liew also said for MPs who do not declare their asset three months later, they will have to explain to the Committee of Privileges on why they did not do so.

“They have to provide a reasonable explanation, the committee will then decide whether to accept their explanation. Or if the committee thinks it is not acceptable, it can recommend the appropriate action to be taken against the MP,” he said.

The declaration has to be made biannually, he said, and MPs can inform the Dewan Rakyat Speaker if there is any addition or disposal to their assets. “These are then copied to the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission). The speaker only acts as [a] custodian of the information,” he added.

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, Liew, when responding to Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil’s queries on the motion, said it is the first step for the government as it prepares the relevant law amendments to include asset declaration.

“The government is preparing the relevant provisions [to amend] the related act for asset declaration. This is in the process, and we hope to table these [amendments] in future parliament sitting.

“Definitely, the government will gather feedback from all relevant parties before sending [the proposal] to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for them to prepare the bill [for tabling in the Dewan Rakyat],” he added.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 2, 2019.

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