KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 – Several Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs have said that a public declaration of assets by potential election candidates may jeopardise their safety, ahead of what is expected to be the country’s most intensely-fought polls.
The BN lawmakers argued that the transparency of election candidates can be effectively ensured through a declaration of personal assets to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and also a vetting by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Najib, who is also BN chairman, had said that his coalition’s candidates would be screened by the country’s anti-graft body - an announcement that was scoffed at by his political foes in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as a publicity stunt.
Several PR MPs were today reported saying that BN’s candidates would instead look more credible if they disclose their assets publicly, pointing out that MACC’s job is to fight corruption and not filter election candidates with dubious financial records.
But Umno’s Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said personal assets do not have to be declared publicly because the assets are personal in nature, saying that this will also protect the safety of those representing the people.
“To me, these assets are personal. So to me, it’s enough if (we) declare assets to the Prime Minister.
“We can’t be announcing all our assets to all the citizens? We need to think about the wakil rakyat’s (people’s representative’s) safety,” the Kota Belud MP said.
He questioned why Pakatan Rakyat MPs continue to demand that BN politicians fully declare their assets, pointing out that those in the opposition pact and their family members had themselves failed to do the same.
“To me, (about) the asset declaration, the opposition also don’t do (it).
We see that the Pakatan Rakyat wakil rakyat also don’t do (it).
“I give an example, the Selangor government’s declaration of assets, they didn’t disclose. They only disclose the increase in assets. In Penang, it is compulsory for the assets of wakil rakyat to be declared, but the wives’ assets are not declared,” he said when contacted by The Malaysian Insider today.
He said that assets only have to be declared to the Prime Minister, who will allow the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to take the asset declaration documents for investigations if needed.
Abdul Rahman’s views were shared by former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
Besides a declaration of assets to the BN chairman, Ong said that asset declarations are already done within the MCA itself.
“In BN’s system, in the party itself there’s already such a process, all of us declare assets to the BN chairman.
“Usually in our system, the members of the administration already declare (their) assets, that is a requirement,” the Pandan MP told The Malaysian Insider.
But Ong said it may not be necessary for candidates to declare their assets to the public, because it is uncertain if they will be successful at the polls.
“Candidates do not necessarily need to declare assets, because it’s not necessary they will win.
“Only when (they) already won, then they have to declare (their) assets,” the MCA man said.
Batang Lupar MP Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim said that as a lawmaker, she had declared her assets to her party president Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and also the BN chairman.
Rohani is an MP from the Sarawak BN’s main component party Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
“It is sufficient to only declare assets to the Prime Minister, and if there is penyelewengan (abuse), the Prime Minister can submit the asset declaration documents to SPRM,” she said, referring to the MACC’s initials in the Malay language.
She said that the declaration of assets is a normal routine within both the PBB and BN.
“What is more important, election candidates will come forward as clean (candidates) to get the voters’ confidence,” Rohani said.
Election candidates are currently not required to publicly declare their assets, but those already holding high-ranking positions within the civil service have to make a declaration to the prime minister.
As the 13th general elections draw near, corruption remains a key issue for voters, with alleged scandals involving both BN and PR regularly dominating the headlines.