Asia Minute: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Warns of U.S. Style “Lobbyist Corruption”

Jul 11, 2018

Malaysia's House of Parliament
Credit CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / Wikimedia Commons

The Prime Minister of Malaysia has promised a series of political reforms — and he’s starting at the top. He’s creating new rules for cabinet ministers, and warning about cautionary tales of political influence in the United States.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has never been hesitant to express his views during his decades of political leadership.

This week he announced new guidelines for cabinet ministers to guard against corruption – as he celebrated his 93rd birthday.

Mahathir wants every cabinet minister, and Member of Parliament, to disclose all their assets — total up all their wealth and publish the figures. He also says members of the government can no longer accept valuable gifts — nothing that’s worth more than perishable food and flowers.

Mahathir was prime minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, and this past May he replaced disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak. Najib is accused of criminal breach of trust and corruption in a multi-billion dollar scandal — charges he denies.

Mahathir Mohamad
Credit Yanbei / Wikimedia Commons

Mahathir is also drafting a law that would bar political parties from doing favors for financial donors who support them. He says he wants to avoid influence peddling like that which he says takes place routinely in the United States.

He told reporters this week, “We see the U.S., 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.”

“That, to us, is corruption,” he said. Adding “We will not allow that in Malaysia.”