Mat Sabu: Not wise to declare assets to public (Updated)

SUNGAI BULOH: Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu feels the proposal by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for ministers to declare their assets only to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and not to the public, is the right move.

He said this was to avoid certain quarters from making judgments based simply on the assets declared.

For example, when a person who is already rich becomes an MP or minister, some quarters would perceive his wealth was due to his position in the government.

"MACC would know if an increase in an individual's assets was due to his wages and allowance or through unhealthy means. Which is why the MACC is the best body for us to declare our assets to, because while some among the public are wise to judge, others might not be," he said after the 53rd Armed Forces Cooperative annual general meeting at the Sungai Buloh army camp today.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia head Datuk Akhbar Satar said it would be good practice if the declaration is made to the MACC and also the public.

He said such a disclosure is a powerful deterrent against unethical behaviour and serves as a reminder that any wayward acts involving public funds can be subjected to scrutiny by the public.

"The names of the top 10 richest Malaysians are often published in the media and none have faced any issues declaring their wealth. Similarly in the Philippines and Thailand, it has been implemented successfully," he told theSun.

"There will be greater transparency and this will ensure the credibility of politicians. Apart from gaining public trust, it will also help as a deterrence in resorting to temptations and in exposing suspicious levels of wealth that cannot be accounted for as legitimately earned."

Also present were Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, Army chief Gen Datuk Seri Zulkiple Kassim and Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin.

Mahathir had on July 10 said all ministers and MPs would be required to declare their assets in an effort to ensure transparency.

National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption director-general Tan Sri Abu Kassim had also previously said the ministers and MPs can expect to have their assets declared within the next few weeks once amendments to the government's code of ethics is passed in Cabinet.

He had said that the amendments to the code have been agreed upon by the Cabinet Select Committee on Anti-Corruption and would be tabled soon.