Personal integrity and honesty are virtues expected of public servants anywhere, and in Malaysia Pakatan Rakyat have shown the way since 2008. In the PR states of Selangor and Penang, that creed has taken step in the form of public declaration of personal income and assets. Here we recount again PR’s effort at instituting honest governance which have been missing from Malaysia for a long time.
On 14 March 2009, Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state government made history when it became the first government at any level in Malaysia to have its executive councilors (exco) declared publicly their assets and income acquired while in office.
Only the assets obtained after the exco assumed office is made available for public scrutiny. The assets declared include the exco’s income which also includes both donations and benefits in kind, additional benefits given by an employer such as travelling expenses, medical insurance and employer pension.
The top officials, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim draws RM 47,222 a month for his Menteri Besar post and also as chairman for a few of the state-owned corporations (GLC). He also listed as owning a dormant company with a capital of RM 2,803,884. Senior exco Teresa Kok received RM 32,830 which included her remuneration from her role as Member of Parliament (MP) for Seputeh and chalked up a housing mortgage of RM 320,000. (refer table for details)
The excos were required to declare their assets every six months and the declaration also includes bank loan agreements. The public were allowed to request for the exco’s detailed account of the asset declaration before 2008 through the Special Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (SELCAT).
When asked why it did not include the assets before they held office, Khalid said “The point of the declaration is to see if an exco member becomes richer after his appointment. That is what is most important and not what he had before.”
The excos’ asset declarations are still available for viewing at the website http://www.selangor.gov.my.
On 12 January 2012 Penang Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government executive councillors (excos) made history when they made public declaration of their personal assets. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the state excos became the first elected officials to make a comparison of their personal wealth as of end 2011, to that upon assuming office in March 2008.
This public declaration of assets was by an independent audit company. The internationally renowned accounting firm, KPMG and its senior partner chartered accountant Ooi Kok Seng were chosen for the verification exercise and to formulate the template for public viewing.
According to Lim the asset declaration was to ensure a cleaner leadership, with integrity in line with the CAT principles, which entails measures such as a ban on political parties’ involvement in businesses that can lead to conflicts of interest; open tender system, a freedom of information law and declaration of personal assets.
According to the declaration, Lim had 133,245 units of Amanah Mutual Bhd investment, 25989 units of Public Mutual Fund investment (increase of 15,989 units) and fix deposits increase of RM43,785 along with two shoplots in Malacca, worth RM435,000 and RM530,000. He has loans of RM650,000 to finance the purchase the units. (refer table for details).
“The Penang state EXCO members wish to stress that they have no other sources of income except from their public allowances as public officials and ADUNs,” he added.
Their allowances can be obtained from the Enakmen Anggota Pentadbiran dan Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri(Saraan) 1980. The details of the all the excos assets can be viewed at www.penang.gov.my.
What BN has to say
On 19 January 2012, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (pic) was asked if BN would make public their ministers and family members’ personal assets and income.
“Revealing the asset declarations of ministers and their immediate family members to the public should not be done, as this may endanger them.” Nazri was reported by Malaysiakini as saying.
“This is especially so as it will also include personal details, on which we also have laws to protect against indiscriminate distribution,” he added.
Commenting on the Selangor and Penang PR state governments public the assets declaration of their state exco members, Nazri replied that it was a matter of choice. “That is up to their administration, if they decide to do so.”
When queried on why the assets declaration of ministers and their families will only be given to the PM and the MACC, Nazri stressed that even giving a copy of the declaration to the MACC should only be done if there is a need.
“They should only declare to the MACC if there are reports of corruption. There is no need to declare if there are no reports. After all we have already declared it to the PM,” he said.
PR to make it a pledge
Across the country, in states where PR has launched their state manifestos, PR has included public declaration of personal assets as part of their pledge if elected to be the state government.
Pakatan Rakyat has tentatively announced that the PR coalition in the states of Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Sabah have pledged to make public their chief ministers and excos’ personal assets upon coming to office. More states PR are due to declare personal asset declaration as part of their manifestos.
With Penang and Selangor leading the way, Malaysians can be rest assured that PR will walk the talk when it comes to restoring personal honesty to the public office. – The Rocket