PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is putting in safeguards to prevent graft by requiring his Cabinet members to declare their wealth and to refuse gifts more valuable than perishable food and flowers.
"We will do everything possible," Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters in Putrajaya yesterday. "We are in the midst of formulating laws and ways of administration so that we can reduce corruption and maybe even eradicate corruption in Malaysia."
The requirement applies to his entire government, including himself, all his ministers and MPs, with a deadline for the asset declaration to be set soon, he said.
Dr Mahathir said corruption could only be successfully curbed if the top leaders in government, including the prime minister, ministers and elected representatives, were truly free from corrupt practices.
He added that his Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was mulling over whether to make it compulsory for family members of elected representatives to also declare their assets to the country's anti-graft agency.
Asked if the asset declarations would be made public, he said the government was assessing how much information could be made public.
He said that, to his knowledge, no PH elected representative had made the declaration to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission so far.
Last week, former premier Najib Razak was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one of abuse of power relating to SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Najib has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Dr Mahathir is also drafting a law to ensure political parties do not return favours to financial donors that support them, citing the US model as a cautionary tale.
"We see the US which has a system of lobbyists and they are paid to influence the government to do certain things for the people who paid the money," Dr Mahathir said. "That, to us, is corruption. We will not allow that in Malaysia."
Dr Mahathir, who is the world's oldest elected leader, turned 93 yesterday. Asked by the media what his birthday wish was, he responded: "My wish is for the press to help us overcome corruption."
BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK