By H G Rahman

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysians have by and large become accustomed to politicians engaging in questionable or outright corrupt practises, especially in recent years with several high profile cases being tried in court.

We need to remember that these politicians, who assume their positions in the state and federal legislative bodies, are there to serve the people but all too often this is not the case.

Many have sold out their voters by jumping ship, others who are appointed to cabinet or other posts, milk their positions through the abuse of power and outright theft of public funds.

A civic responsibility

While asset declaration currently is on a voluntary basis, the simple act of doing so will go a long way to assure the public that there are those who prioritise and value transparency and accountability.

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad , recently listed his income and holdings: RM 16,000 plus another RM8,300 in salary and other allowances, one condominium, three cars including a pickup used to service constituents, shares and savings.

A detailed breakdown can be found here.

This declaration is what I, as a Setiawangsa voter can appreciate, that his heart and attitude is in the right place. He expects my vote and in turn reveals what he must about himself. This is how the relationship between a voter and an MP should stand.

Little else can be said for a number of our other politicians though, who not only refuse to do so, giving nonsensical arguments such as former Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor who "declared" that: 'If I declare my assets to the public, my family might get kidnapped'

This is not a question of safety, a federal minister has access to resources for personal safety such as bodyguards and police outriders. What it is however is contempt for the public, who by this logic do not need to know what their MP is up to.

Slow progress

Despite scandal after scandal and the obvious problem of having ministers, politicians and their associates living well beyond their means, there has been little progress in enacting laws to strengthen asset declaration laws.

Even the recent Pandora Papers leak was not enough, and the call by Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) to prioritise asset declaration laws for the sake of accountability and transparency was all but Ignored by the current government.

Despite the outcry by several MPs including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, seeker Azhar Azizan Harun rejected Anwar's earlier motion for the Pandora Papers to be debated on grounds of urgency and public interest, twice.

That is exactly the problem with the current government and this will only be remedied when the Rakyat finally throws out these unworthy parasites who are milking the nation dry and brings in those who will implement the reforms that Malaysia so desperately needs.
Let us never forget that without a lack of transparency is always the first step towards a failed state:

“Government ought to be all outside and no inside…Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.”— Woodrow Wilson, former US president, 1913