Parliament unanimously approves making MPs declare assets despite heavy resistance

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong is pictured at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 1, 2019. Liew said that the government is also in the midst of drafting a Bill for mandatory asset declaration. — Picture by FIrdaus Latif
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong is pictured at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 1, 2019. Liew said that the government is also in the midst of drafting a Bill for mandatory asset declaration. — Picture by FIrdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — The Dewan Rakyat today approved a motion compelling MPs from both sides of the political divide, as well as their wives and children, to declare their assets through a voice vote.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof called for a vote at the end of the debate session on the motion, and the motion was unanimously approved despite intense objection from Opposition MPs.

“There are no voices which disagreed, the motion is approved unanimously,” he said.

The highly-anticipated motion was a hotly debated from noon until around 6pm, with Pakatan Harapan MPs unanimously supporting the motion in the debates, while PAS and Barisan Nasional lawmakers were mostly against it.

Several Opposition MPs told the government to first draft a Bill compelling asset declaration among lawmakers and making it into federal law, after which the Bill should be tabled in Parliament to be debated.

During the debate session, Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman stood to object and said lawmakers have a fundamental right to privacy.

Tajuddin argued that Opposition lawmakers were not government officials with the power to award contracts, effectively precluding opportunities for them to be corrupt.

PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, meanwhile told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat lobby that Islam purportedly does not allow the declaration of wealth as this would raise security concerns.

In his reply however, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said that the government is also in the midst of drafting a Bill for mandatory asset declaration.

“For your information, YBs, the government is indeed in the process of drafting this provision to be included in the law, and this is still in the process, and I hope this can be drafted in time for the next Parliament session,” Liew said, referring to the MPs.

The motion today also proposed referring lawmakers who do not comply to the Parliament’s Select Committee on Rights and Privileges.

MPs who make false declarations, however, could be charged under Section 3, Act 783 (Statutory Declaration) and Section 193 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term no more than three years or a fine.

Liew last week said that once the motion is passed, MPs and senators, their spouses and children under age 21 would also have to declare their assets.

The Bill proposes that lawmakers must declare their assets through a statutory declaration and must submit it within three months from the date it is passed to the Speaker of the House.

A copy of the declaration will then be submitted to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief, which will then be displayed on the commission’s website.

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