11 April 2013, Comrade Arutchelvan, PSM candidate for N24 Semenyih,
declared his asset. This is the fourth year he has declared his asset
since he was selected as MPKj council member in 2008. He hold a press
conference in the morning and later at night another session with the
residence committee in Semenyih. About 100 people were present.
should be noted that the first political entity in Malaysia to
undertake such a declaration exercise was the Parti Sosialis Malaysia
2008, PSM had approved a policy that all its elected and appointed
representatives must declare their assets. The
statutory declarations have been made available to the public and the
press every year since then.
trying to put the message across that this is not our money,” PSM
secretary-general S. Arutchelvan said. “It is people’s money. And we
have to be responsible and accountable.”
The principles of honour and and responsibility demand that any one who chooses to stand for
office, especially by seeking support of others, allows himself or
herself to be scrutinised by the very public that has entrusted him or
her to assume such a powerful and sensitive position.
The rakyat must demand and ensure that people who hold public office are accountable to them and do not misuse their position to enrich themselves.
The public are still awaiting for all politicians in power to declare their asset prior to the GE13. Will they do so?
Practices in other countries.
Latin America, senior officials in eight countries – Argentina, Belize,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay – are
required to make full assets declarations every year. In Mexico, over
100,000 public declarations are filed every year; in the Bahamas,
summaries of financial declarations are published in the Government
Ecuador, declarations must either be made public or authenticated by a
notary. In Belize, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana,
Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela,
financialdeclarations must include information for spouses, children
and other financial dependants.
in Belize, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica and Nicaragua, there is public access
to financial declaration information regarding spouses, children and
Conflict of interest code
Canada, the financial disclosure law requires that public officials –
from ministers to officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – must
disclose their financial assets yearly.
is important as the Canadian Parliament is adopting the Conflict of
Interest Code, in which transparency is crucial. To ensure public
officials do not misuse their position, the declaration of
financial assets is compulsory.
United States, in response to ‘Watergate’ and other scandals and a
weakening of public trust in government, the Congress has enacted the
Ethics in Government Act of 1978. It requires detailed financial
disclosure by high-level employees in all three branches of the federal
Every country in continental Europe has some form of financial disclosure requirement for public officials.
Latvia has one of the most comprehensive systems, which has arguably led
to the reduction of once-rampant corruption in this post-Soviet
democracy. In Romania, there is a robust system of publishing public
officials’ assetsdisclosures, grounded in the constitutional right of
access to information.
to the African continent, South Africa has implemented a comprehensive
conflict of interest policy and has enacted a number of conflict of
interest codes requiring disclosure of financial interests by public
1983 in Australia, conflict of interest laws and regulations have
required members of parliament to disclose their financial interests,
including those of their spouses and dependent children. The House of
Representatives and Senate have published these disclosures in a
registry since 1984 and 1994 respectively.
Other Asian nations do it, too
But is this an Asian way? Well, it is.
In India, politicians who contest elections to Parliament or a state legislature are subject to a more rigorous regime.
A 2002 Supreme Court judgment requires all electoral candidates to
submit on oath, details of movable and immovableassets owned by them,
their spouses and their dependents. This also covers liabilities like
loans from public sector banks and unpaid bills for public utilities
such as electricity, water and telephone connection.
affidavits must be submitted along with the nomination papers. The
Election Commission uploads these on its website in order to inform
voters about the background of the candidates.
Philippines, citizens have the right to review financial disclosures of
all public officials and employees, including spouses and unmarried
minor children living in their households, pursuant to Section 8 of the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees. These financial disclosures are made available for scrutiny
at reasonable hours.
1989, the constitutional court of South Korea held that citizens have a
constitutional right to freely access information. The government began
requiring public disclosure of the financial interests of public
officials in 1993.
high-ranking public officials, their spouses, and many of their lineal
ascendants and descendants must disclose their ownership of real
property, intangible property, and shares in non-public business
addition to examination by a Public Ethics Committee, the
property declarations of most of the public officials and their families
are published in a public bulletin within a month of submission.
too has a requirement for all holders of political office, as well as
high-ranking public officials, to make full disclosure of all assets and
liabilities, including those of their spouses and minor children.
This declaration is published by the National Counter-Corruption
Commission in the Government Gazette.
next government in Malaysia must come up with a law requiring
the declaration of financial assets of ministers and lawmakers?
likes to emulate other countries in putting up the tallest building or
the longest bridge; the administrative capital of Putrajaya is even
modelled after Washington DC.
So why not emulate ways to fight corruption, including through public declarations of assets?
In the event that Pakatan takes over the federal government in the next
election, it should prioritise legislation toward assets declaration.
Only then can it ensure a clean administration.