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Saturday, October 16, 2021

After Pandora Papers, NGO wants law to force leaders to declare assets

As pressure mounts on Putrajaya to take the Pandora Papers exposé seriously, one NGO has proposed that leaders be compelled to declare their assets.

This comes after information concerning Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, deputy finance minister Yamani Hafez Musa, Bagan Datuk MP and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Selayang MP William Leong and former finance minister Daim Zainuddin were revealed to be linked to offshore accounts.

In a statement last night, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) president Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz expressed concern over the disclosure of political leaders and their offshore accounts.

He called for a new law to make it mandatory for leaders to declare both domestic and offshore assets.

“Abim is calling for a bill that compels every leader to declare their cash and assets, whether locally or abroad.

“The bill should also make it mandatory for each leader to explain the source (of their assets) and how they were accumulated,” Faisal said.

At present, there is no law making it compulsory for members of the government administration, parliament and the senate to declare their assets. 

In 2019, the Dewan Rakyat approved a motion for all MPs to declare their assets to the House speaker and for a copy to be given to the MACC, but the anti-corruption commission had complained that no punishment could be taken against those who did not do so. 

The Pandora Papers refer to a trove of documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which Malaysiakini is a partner.

The leak was from a number of firms that helped clients set up or manage offshore trusts and companies in tax havens.

Debate, probe needed

Abim is an Islamist NGO where opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had served as its second president from 1974 to 1982.

In his statement, Faisal supported Anwar’s persistent attempt to have the Pandora Papers allegations debated in the Dewan Rakyat.

“Abim believes that pressure via Anwar’s motion for the revelations to be debated in Parliament is appropriate given how it involves transparency and integrity among politicians, especially those who hold important positions in the current administration,” he said.

“The people need to continue voicing their concerns by demanding that the Pandora Papers revelations be debated openly during official parliament sessions and be investigated via formal legal mechanisms,” Faisal added.

Last week, Anwar had tried to get the House to debate the revelations but was thwarted time and again.

Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun rejected his emergency motion saying the matter was not urgent enough to be debate and instead ought to be scrutinised by a Parliamentary Select Committee or a Royal Commission of Inquiry instead.

The Port Dickson MP later appealed but this was again rejected by the House speaker, saying his decision remained.

This prompted Anwar to accuse Azhar - a former lawyer - of acting as a “defence counsel” for those named in the exposé.

The Dewan Rakyat is now in recess and will resume on Oct 25. - Mkini

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