KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat today approved a special motion for all members of parliament, senators as well as their immediate family members to declare their assets.
The motion, the Code of Ethics for Administrative Members and MPs, was passed with a voice vote in the Lower House of Parliament.
It was debated from noon until 6pm before Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof called for a voice vote to take place on the special motion.
Despite intense objection from the opposition aisle, the louder “Aye” from the government bench carried the motion.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong, who tabled the motion for debate said, with the motion being passed, MPs would now be required to declare their assets as well as the assets of their spouses, children aged 21 and below, and those of their related trust holders.
They must declare their assets within a three-month period from the day the motion was approved (July 1), or have until Oct 1 to fill the declaration form to be submitted to the Dewan Rakyat speaker and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief.
Each declaration consists of three forms for personal asset declaration, additional asset declaration and disposal of assets, which will be made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960.
“In this context, the declaration includes monthly earnings and all property obtained domestically and abroad.”
Liew said MPs who did not abide by the requirement would held in contempt of parliamentary regulations.
He reminded MPs that those who falsely declared their assets would violate laws under Statutory Declarations Act 1960.
“As the motion will be binding on Dewan Rakyat members, anyone who does not adhere to the directive will be referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee under Meeting Rule 80 for violating the rights and privileges of the house.
“If any MP makes a false declaration, he or she is bound by Act 783 (Statutory Declarations Act 1960) and Section 199 of the Penal Code.”
Those who are convicted could face a maximum jail term of three years and a fine.
Liew added that the passage of the special motion would pave the way for a bill on mandatory asset declaration by MPs, which could likely become part of an existing law.
“We are in the process of formulating (the bill) and for it to be included in an existing act. It will hopefully be tabled in the next parliamentary sitting,” said Liew in his winding speech.
He also proposed that MPs make their declarations every two years, and if any of them had any increase or disposal of wealth, they would have inform the Dewan Rakyat speaker.
“If within two years, if I for example had sold a certain property at RM500,000, I would have to inform the speaker, and the speaker who is entrusted with the information will provide a copy of the (new) declaration to the MACC,” said Liew.
Last year, MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (prevention) Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil had said that a new law on the mandatory declaration of assets by elected representatives was “in the works”.
The asset declaration initiative stems from Pakatan Harapan’s move to make it compulsory for its MPs and government administrative personnel to submit their asset declarations to MACC.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also said that compelling MPs to declare their assets would deter them from abusing their positions.
Liew said the government was committed to carrying out changes to all the main institutions in the country, with a focus on creating a corruption-free country.
“Despite efforts to rid the government services of corruption, and charges made against individuals who have made offences related to graft, the government is of the opinion that such anti-graft efforts can be improved,” he said.
“The government’s war against corruption is not only about prevention and penalties, but it involves the people’s perspective as such efforts must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.” Liew said the time had come for all Dewan Rakyat members, including those from the opposition, to declare their assets.