Home Web Specials Political appointments in government-linked firms smack of the bad old days

Political appointments in government-linked firms smack of the bad old days

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It feels like a bad old theatrical play being performed by a relatively new set of actors, which is disappointing as well as tiresome.

We are talking about the “unity government” aping what previous governments, particularly the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, did: appointing government politicians to helm government-linked companies and federal statutory bodies.

It is almost comical seeing Bersatu vice-president Mohd Radzi Md Jidin insisting on knowing how many political appointments had been made so far, as if he was miffed that his party’s template had been used by the present government without its permission or knowledge.

The question he rightly raised in the House of Representatives came on the heels of the appointment of former Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) chairman, with effect from 10 March.

The Putrajaya MP wanted a list that would include political appointments for institutions such as Mara, the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra), as well as appointments to public universities.

Soon after this controversy, PKR’s Balik Pulau MP, Bakhtiar Wan Chik, was appointed chairman of MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated.

It looks as if the government is dead set on giving us all an unmistakable sense of deja vu.

Incidentally, film censorship under the watch of the current administration is another example that gives the people that familiar feeling.

The previous PN government, of which Bersatu is a member, was known to have filled the top posts in government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies with ruling politicians in an effort to consolidate its position, which smacked of political patronage. The government budget swelled as a result, to the detriment of the ordinary people.

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Such a PN practice reportedly involved 140 political appointees in 39 organisations, including Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Felda and Mara.

Of course, it’s not laughable when the unity government, particularly PKR, just did what it roundly condemned when it was in the opposition.

This is especially after the newly formed unity government took a positive step last December to terminate all PN’s political appointees in these bodies. In other words, the present government has taken an unabashed U-turn in its policy.

That’s why there is already criticism of the current government on social media, saying the government does not do what it preaches (“cakap tak serupa bikin”).

Reform-minded Malaysians and civil society groups are predictably upset over such a negative development that runs counter to structural and meaningful reform.

Bersih, the civil society group that promotes free and fair elections, has rightly argued against such political appointments, adding that MPs and state assembly members should focus on policymaking and serving their constituencies, not delving into government-linked companies that require a certain degree of professionalism.

The government-linked companies and other federal statutory bodies should be headed by individuals who mostly have expertise, skills and experience to ensure that they work towards desired corporate objectives, corporate dynamism and at the same time, remain financially solvent.

We must be mindful that the government-linked companies are the custodians of public wealth and resources.

Such a professional requirement would also help prevent abuse of power, conflict of interest and possibly corruption that could emerge from political appointments in such organisations.

Political expediency must not be the required qualification for key positions in government-linked companies. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
21 Mar 2023 11.04am

If ‘Political appointments in government-linked firms smack of the bad old days’
then how would the appointment of non-elected politicians as Senators be described as some included among the 16 senate members who took their oaths of office before Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim?

Bless all

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