KUCHING, May 20 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) would be following Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) footsteps if the former introduces mandatory asset declarations for lawmakers, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has said.
Masing said GPS federal and state lawmakers had already declared their assets to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), as early as the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s time as chief minister.
“Please take note of that,” Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, said when asked to respond to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for all federal lawmakers, including from the Opposition, to declare their assets and that of their immediate families.
On April 6, 2015, Sarawak made Malaysian history when all its Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers and political secretaries to the chief minister — now in GPS — took the integrity pledge in line with the Adenan administration’s pledge to promote clean and transparent governance.
On January 15 that same year, Adenan had led his ministers and assistant ministers to sign the integrity pledge before the MACC chief at the time, Tan Sri Abu Kassim, after which they submitted their list of assets to the commission.
When Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg took over as chief minister, he and members of his state Cabinet, along with GPS MPs, state assemblymen and political secretaries also took the integrity pledge and declared their assets to the MACC.
Responding separately to the prime minister’s announcement, State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo lauded it and said it was long overdue.
She also said that the declarations should not only be to the MACC but to all Malaysians.
“The assets should be for public information. If they want to be public persons holding public office, they must be accountable,” she said.
Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) information chief Datuk Idris Buang said he personally considered the federal government’s proposal fair.
Asked if GPS MPs would support such a motion or Bill in Parliament, he said this would depend on how it was worded.
“If the motion or Bill is plain and straightforward, GPS MPs should give their support,” he said.
He also pointed out that the GPS government already requires state ministers, assistant ministers and political secretaries to submit their lists of assets to the MACC after signing anti-corruption pledge with the MACC.
DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said he strongly in favour of the proposal announced by Dr Mahathir that the National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Governance Centre would extend the scope of the National Anti-Corruption Plan to include the declaration of assets as one of the key performance indicators of federal ministers, deputy ministers and all MPs, including from the Opposition.
He said since the change of government on May 9 last year, the PH federal government has introduced multiple anti-corruption policies and initiatives to promote transparency and curb corruption.
Dr Yii said the anti-corruption measures are important in Sarawak, especially with the increase of development budget by the state government this year and also upcoming allocations from the federal government.
“It is also to increase transparency and the trust of the public administration, to prevent conflicts of interest, illicit enrichment and false accusations of wealth and to monitor the wealth of politicians and public servants.
Dr Yii also proposed that an asset-profiling system be introduced to determine the amount of assets a lawmaker or government official can reasonably accrue during his time in office.
After his announcement, however, the prime minister acknowledged that the plan must go through Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusuf before it can be implemented.