Rafizi aims to kickstart culture change with INVOKE’s asset declaration campaign

Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli wants to change Malaysia’s political culture by getting elected lawmakers and potential election candidates to declare their assets to the public. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli wants to change Malaysia’s political culture by getting elected lawmakers and potential election candidates to declare their assets to the public. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Rafizi Ramli is hoping to change Malaysia’s political culture by getting elected lawmakers and potential election candidates to actually make public their assets starting from this weekend.

Rafizi said the expected 30 individuals who will declare their assets this Sunday is only the first batch that his big data outfit INVOKE Malaysia expects to push out over the next few months before the 14th general elections is held.

“Actually we are doing this with more people, but we will roll out batch after batch,” the PKR vice-president told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

For those in the first batch, they are from opposition parties PKR and Parti Amanah Negara, with the majority being incumbent MPs and state assemblymen, while the rest are prospective candidates, he said.

These aspiring candidates in the first batch are from marginal seats nationwide and will also sign legally-binding agreement to among other things not defect in exchange for INVOKE’s services, he said.

“PPBM only has one incumbent and they are too new to be able to identify prospective candidates. They will come back to me. DAP — they don’t have marginal seats that much that require our support,” he said of the two other opposition parties in federal opposition Pakatan Harapan.

“We are not doing it to purely win elections or outmanoeuvre anyone, we are looking at mid five-six year term of culture change,” he said.

Rafizi had last year mounted a campaign to get civil servants and public office holders from both the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and federal opposition Pakatan Harapan to declare their assets, but he said no one responded to him.

Instead of waiting for political parties to take action and foregoing the route of just “talking” in Parliament about asset declaration, Rafizi said he hoped setting an example would spur more politicians to follow suit.

“I’m the first one to declare every single detail and people actually see that and you start seeing Mujahid doing it, then people feel it’s quite good to declare assets, that’s why now we can convince 30 people to do it,” the Pandan MP said, referring to Amanah MP Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

“I’m hoping when politicians see the euphoria of the public welcoming asset declarations, more and more politicians want to do it,” he added.

“The reason why not a single party so far has made it mandatory for the leadership or MPs to declare assets — because there are two sides of the coin,” he said, noting worries over the effects of declaring assets such as being solicited for financial help.

“We have to prove to them that Malaysians are not like that, they won’t queue up and ask money from you,” he said of the cultural mindset that has to be changed.

Benefits of joining INVOKE’s asset declaration campaign

Rafizi said that INVOKE’s initiative would see those who declared assets being able to utilise its technology which is unavailable elsewhere locally for more effective and cheaper election campaigns.

It will also show election candidates that they need not rely on “cronies” or politically-connected businesses for political funding.

“If you are good, the public will back you up,” he said of INVOKE’s crowdfunding campaign for them, also noting that voters would be able to distinguish them as candidates who have integrity.

He also said election candidates for non-marginal seats could still opt to declare their assets and follow the conditions set by INVOKE, in exchange for the latter’s data, technology and network of volunteers.

“The only thing they are not entitled to is the service to crowdfund for them. We can’t raise money for them because they are not marginal seats, but they are entitled to get services, our facilities,” he said, citing as example INVOKE’s profiling system that could identify fence-sitters and volunteers who can be matched to the nearest campaign activities.

Rafizi said INVOKE has presently briefed the top leaders of all Pakatan Harapan parties except for DAP as the rest were most likely to contest in marginal seats, with Parti Sosialis Malaysia also contacted regarding this initiative.

Rafizi stressed that INVOKE is not partisan and that it had opened up this asset declaration initiative to anyone, including PAS, as long as they are from marginal seats seeking to defeat pro-BN candidates and commit to institutional reforms.

While respecting the decision of his party and Pakatan Harapan on asset declaration, Rafizi said he would push for such a move both within his party and outside his party through efforts like INVOKE’s initiative.

When contacted on whether the federal opposition pact’s election candidates would declare their assets, Pakatan Harapan chief secretary Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told Malay Mail Online: “PH Presidential Council have not discussed this”.

The 14th general elections must be held by next August, but may be called earlier. INVOKE Malaysia is predicting that it will be held between May to July next year.

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