Malaysia Plans Anti-Corruption Drive as 1MDB Probe Intensifies

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia is outlining the most urgent steps in its anti-corruption drive as investigators across the world intensify their probes into the sprawling scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB.

“We want to grow the best we can and learn from the past,” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in Putrajaya at the launch of the plan. “All of us make mistakes and do wrong things, but the important thing is to want to correct it.”

The government has picked out 22 priority areas out of the total 115 in its plan to improve the transparency and accountability across all levels of the administration, from law enforcement to corporate entities. The initiatives are set to be completed within one to five years, said Abu Kassim Mohamed, head of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption.

Here are a few of the key initiatives:

  • A political funding law will have punitive clauses and include an offence on lobbying, with Mahathir previously saying that he would look to Germany as an example. The rule is set to be completed within two years.
  • Malaysia will have an asset declaration system for cabinet and parliament members by December. Parliament members must also reveal assets and interests according to a rule set to be issued by Dec. 2023.
  • The government will ban cabinet members or “highly influential persons” from issuing letters to support projects, with the rule to be issued within one year.
  • Malaysia will regulate the appointment of politicians to boards of state-linked companies and entities to ensure it is based strictly on academic and professional qualifications. The rule will be issued within a year.
  • There will be standard clauses in project procurement to protect the country’s interests, including for state statutory bodies and government-linked companies. In case of any breach of contract, the rule will allow Malaysia to terminate the deal and file civil suits against the parties involved. The rule will be issued within a year.
  • Malaysia will include a provision in its existing anti-corruption act to require people benefiting from state-linked projects or tenders to reveal the beneficiary ownership structure. The rule will be issued within five years.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.