The Malaysian Reserve

Regulators under focus as new admin cracks the whip

One of the new govt’s promises for the 1st 100 days is to set up RCI on 1MDB (Pic: TMRpic)

One issue we face is lack of competency at some of the regulatory bodies and agencies, says retired senior civil servant

By HABHAJAN SINGH / Pic By TMR

Regulators can expect to come under focus and heightened scrutiny as the nation moves forward under a newly minted administration at the federal government level.

Just like the new Pakatan Harapan government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, regulatory bodies may find themselves in uncharted territories.

Some of the old rules and conventions may no longer apply.

In its comprehensive manifesto — the English version running into 150 pages, while the Malay version close to 200 pages — Pakatan Harapan had already made known its intent to change the playground when it comes to regulatory matters.

“Important bodies such as the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) and the National Audit Department shall be liable to be called by the appropriate parliamentary committee,” it said in the manifesto released on March 10.

The statement above appears in “Promise 16: Restore the dignity of the Parliament”.

All in, the manifesto had outlined the coalition’s five pillars, 10 promises in 100 days, 60 promises in five years and five special pledges. That would be a good start.

Regulators may be required to appear before the elected lawmakers to answer queries on areas under their care.

On the flip side, it also provides them opportunities to flesh their side of the story.

The saving grace would be how well they had performed over the years, and the real value that they add to the nation and the people in running the affairs of the kingdoms under their command.

“One issue we face is lack of competency at some of the regulatory bodies and agencies,” a retired senior civil servant told The Malaysian Reserve.

The feeling is that all is not well across the board, with some regulatory bodies needing to beef up their performance.

On this score, bodies like the central bank and the SC are largely thought to have built up their internal capacity, with their staff given the opportunity to attend training sessions on a regular basis.

The new government also intends to bring into play parliamentary committees when dealing with future “key national positions” appointments to bodies like the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Election Commission, MACC and the Judicial Appointments Commission.

On the regulatory front, some of the other stated intentions of the new government deal with reforming the MACC and strengthening anti-corruption efforts, as well as separating the office of the AG as public prosecutor.

BNM is certain to gain the spotlight in the near term as it was the regulator involved in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) saga.

One of the promises for the first 100 days is to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on 1MDB.

The wheels are already turning on 1MDB with Dr Mahathir ordering the declassification of the AG’s report into 1MDB.

The assistance of the central bank will also be called upon in efforts to reduce the pressures causing burdensome price increases, as well as increase the number of affordable housing for purchase and rental.