Kuala Lumpur, 23 August 2016 – Referencing Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s statement on not wanting to declare his assets publicly over safety concerns, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan, stated how countries all over the world have been able to balance the need for public accountability while managing concerns over privacy and safety.
“Declaring your assets publicly will not make you a target for thieves, kidnappers and robbers. It is however your duty as a public official to be accountable to voters,” says Wan Saiful.
“The public has been demanding for the public declaration of assets since former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s time, but officials and politicians from both the government and opposition sides have continuously skirted and evaded the issue. As the saying goes “hendak seribu daya tak hendak seribu dalih” (if you want to do something you will have 1000 reasons to do it, but if you do not want to do something, you will give 1000 reasons not to do it).”
Other countries with greater security concerns have managed just fine with public asset declarations. “If you look at neighbouring Indonesia, the practice of declaring one’s assets has been done for many years. Rarely do you hear public officials citing concerns of being kidnapped or being robbed as a reason to not do so. Being a politician or public official imposes an expectation of accountability and duty upon oneself. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
“Don’t insult our police force by accusing that they cannot be trusted to ensure the safety of our public officials. The police force have done their job effectively for decades and they haven’t failed us. I am confident they will continue their excellent service to provide the necessary protection. Show them some respect and trust. Don’t use them as an excuse to hide information from the public.” added Wan Saiful.
“In our study published in May 2015, we highlighted important features of a strong asset declaration system which include legal backing, i.e., an asset declaration law, a strong verification mechanism and public access to the asset declared. The current practice of merely declaring to the Prime Minister or Chief Minister is insufficient and does not follow international standards.”
“The Selangor State Government has already started the process of having state legislative assemblypersons (ADUNs) declare their assets. This is a good move and I hope it will succeed,” concluded Wan Saiful.
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