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Poll: Public not buying lawmakers' excuse for refusing to declare assets

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Privacy issues, including threats of kidnapping against the family of lawmakers who declare their wealth, are commonly cited as reasons for them refusing to make their assets public.

However, the public does not appear to buy this excuse according to a survey by the UCSI Poll Research Centre.

The centre's chief executive officer Noppadon Kannika, in a statement, said a survey of 1,015 people conducted between May 20 to 29 found that only 38.9 percent of respondents thought that asset declarations by lawmakers were a threat to privacy.

In contrast, 61.1 percent of respondents said declaring assets would serve as a powerful anti-corruption tool.

"This survey clearly indicates that Malaysians want their representatives to be transparent and free from corruption.

"The introduction of a new law to compel MPs and assemblypersons to declare their assets will certainly boost confidence amongst voters and eradicate corrupt practices,” Kannika said.

MACC's asset declaration website for cabinet members (filepix)

However, the survey also found that public understanding of the asset declaration issue was limited.

For example, 70.1 percent of respondents did not know that there was no law to compel lawmakers to declare their assets.

At present, asset declarations by government lawmakers are a policy which has not been codified in law.

While 54.5 percent of respondents agreed that lawmakers should be legally compelled to declare their assets, a substantial number, 32.9 percent, had no position on it as they neither agreed or disagreed. A total of 12.3 percent of respondents disagreed with the measure.

The survey of respondents in the Klang Valley area has a margin of error of 3.59 percent.

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