KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 ― Newly-appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Latheefa Koya has directed strong words against politicians and lawmakers who remain defiant against declaring their assets.
Latheefa, previously an outspoken human rights lawyer, pointed out that declaring assets is the first step towards becoming a more transparent government, and would avoid potential corruption or accusation of corruption.
“Politicians, regardless whether they are from the government or the Opposition, they can’t have their cake and eat it too.
“What does that mean? Once you are a politician, you decide to take a political life, a public office, you have stepped out of that public realm and gone out in public,” she told Malay Mail in a recent interview.
“You cannot then say I need my privacy, and [declaring assets] is a breach of that privacy. That's the risk that you took.
“So the privacy reason doesn't apply for a political person. A person who wants public opinion, wants popularity, you're a public figure,” Latheefa said.
Latheefa urged them to instead look at the positive side of declaring their assets.
“Once you declare your assets, we can see whether your money correlates with your means. So isn't that something good for you so that people don't suspect?” Latheefa asked, adding that the MACC would also list out politicians' liabilities alongside what they own.
“So it's really basic. You declare your assets to save yourself from being accused of falsely gaining your money.
“Why are you hiding? Because there must be something wrong. That's how people are going to conclude,” she added.
On security concerns, Latheefa said that though such fear is understood, the MACC would not be listing all private details of politicians who declare their assets, as the Commission is the custodian of such information.
“The excuses are simply not enough to balance out the need for declaration of assets. You need to balance what the people want and the protection of the so-called privacy of the politicians,” she added.
Early this month, the Dewan Rakyat 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.