Errant Malaysian lawmakers could face higher fines for not declaring assets

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian lawmakers who have yet to declare their assets to the speaker of Parliament's lower house could face a higher fine for not doing so.

This is following plans by Parliament Standing Orders Committee to amend and increase the fine from the current RM1,000 (S$336) to a higher quantum, which some sources say could be a 100-fold increase to a whopping RM100,000.

At present, Members of Parliament (MPs) who are in contempt of Parliament can also be ejected or suspended from the House for up to six months, apart from the monetary punishment.

Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof confirmed the plans for a higher fine, adding that the committee is in the midst of finalising the quantum.

"No amount has been determined yet. The committee will do more studies on the matter and it (quantum) will be fixed after that, " Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff told The Star on Friday (Feb 14).

It is understood that the study will not only look into the quantum of the fine but also various aspects, including other punishments should lawmakers go against the Standing Orders.

Although no quantum has been fixed for the proposed increase in the fine, it was learned that it could be as high as RM100,000.

A source said the current fine of RM1,000 is seen as a "joke" to lawmakers owing to its paltry sum.

"The intention of increasing the fine is to bring dignity back to Parliament. It is now a joke as respect is not there, " the source added.

Lawmakers in the lower house were given a deadline on Dec 5 last year to declare their assets.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong then said that only 160 out of the 222 lawmakers had declared their assets despite the December deadline.

This includes all 139 Pakatan Harapan MPs. However, a check in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) website showed that only 135 lawmakers had declared their assets.

The website also revealed that only 15 Opposition lawmakers had declared their assets, with 68 failing to do so.

Opposition lawmakers, who have not declared their assets, have refused to do so on grounds that there is no specific law compelling them to make such a declaration.

On July 1 last year, the lower house of Parliament passed a motion compelling all MPs to declare their property, including that of their spouses, children below the age of 21 and nominees within three months by Nov 1.

However, the deadline was extended to Dec 5,2019 with Datuk Liew saying there would be no more extension given unless the lawmakers requested for additional time to furnish the information.

The declarations, made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960, are to be submitted to the Speaker with copies given to the MACC and made public on its online portal.

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