The Selangor exco have made public their respective disclosure of assets.
At first glance, it looks great.
The only problem is that most of these are ‘declarations of assets’ that do not publicly reveal the assets!
What they do reveal are monthly salaries and other allowances of the individuals concerned and their respective spouses as well as their outstanding loans and monthly loan repayments. A few have indicated that “other income” would be diclosed when their EA forms are released.
But no details of their assets are provided among the few that I checked. (The exco members are only required to declare additions and disposals to their assets since assuming office.)
One chartered accountant, when he first heard that the asset disclosures would only show assets acquired from March 2008, sent me a text message: “Sounds like a watered-down version, ha ha.”
The United Nations has a resolution on an International Code of Conduct for Public Officials here:
5. Public officials, to the extent required by their position, shall, in accordance with laws or administrative policies, declare business, commercial and financial interests or activities undertaken for financial gain that may raise a possible conflict of interest. In situations of possible or perceived conflict of interest between the duties and private interests of public officials, they shall comply with the measures established to reduce or eliminate such conflict of interest.
8. Public officials shall, in accord with their position and as permitted or required by law and administrative policies, comply with requirements to declare or to disclose personal assets and liabilities, as well as, if possible, those of their spouses and/or dependants.
The US House of Representatives requires its members to disclose the identity of income-generating assets to be made available for public inspection.
The UK House of Commons has an online Register of Members’ Interests, which also discloses the MPs’ assets, although very briefly. These include properties that generate rental income.
It is important that the public has access to the full asset disclosures as a form of oversight. Without such access, the declarations are virtually meaningless and will probably have limited impact.
After all, the whole purpose of asset disclosures is to allow the public to compare the assets of public officials over time to see if they have benefited beyond what they could earn legitimately from their time in office. If these assets are not included, what is the point?