Public declaration of assets by political leaders more appropriate  to combat corruption in politics and develop a new political culture of zero tolerance for corruption than barring the wealthy from politics

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday proposed the barring of rich UMNO members from contesting top party posts.

He said branch and division chiefs would also not be given government contracts under the proposal aimed at keeping away those who want to join for the sake of getting financial benefits.

The first person the people would think of arising from Mahathir’s proposal would be Tun Daim Zainuddin, making people wonder whether the proposal had anything to do with his going on two months’  “bizarre” leave as Finance Minister, to be absent from Cabinet but to continue to visit his  office in his slippers to go through documents and letters - leaving the country in a daze as to whether there is now a Finance Minister in the country or not!

If Mahathir is serious in wanting to root out corruption in politics and develop a new political culture with zero tolerance for corruption, then a more appropriate remedy would be to pass legislation to require periodic public declaration of assets for all political office-holders instead of banning the wealthy from holding political office  and ensuring a really powerful Anti-Corruption Agency by taking it out of the Prime Minister’s Office and becoming fully independent and answerable only to Parliament.

Apart from being an unfair discrimination against the rich, such rules  will also be quite impossible to enforce - as those who are determined to acquire wealth from politics would have means to cover their tracks with the creation of all sorts of ingenious loop-holes to overcome the ban.

Such proposals without a comprehensive attack against the scourge of corruption and abuses of power on all fronts would be resented, and rightfully so, by UMNO quarters especially if they see public funds running into hundreds of millions of ringgit and even billions of ringgit continuing to be “privatised” by a select few of privileged UMNO-putras.

For a start, is the Prime Minister prepared to demonstrate his new seriousness against corruption by requiring all Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Members of Parliament as well as Mentris Besar/Chief Ministers, State Excos and State Assembly members to publicly declare their assets at the beginning and end of each term of office by introducing such a legislation in the current meeting of Parliament?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman