The govt had introduced ‘clean-up’ measures in its effort to put these firms at par with global standards
By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By TMR
A month after Pakatan Harapan’s historic win, the government — led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad — spared no time to reform the nation’s administration and its government-linked companies (GLCs).
In keeping to its election manifesto to not appoint politicians in GLCs, government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and state-owned enterprises, the government had introduced “clean-up” measures in its effort to put these firms at par with global standards.
The measures have resulted in changes at the nation’s key companies including Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Khazanah Nasional Bhd, pilgrim fund Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH), the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).
The wave of change also came into GLICs, where some of their top management personnel have departed from their posts.
To name a few, Telekom Malaysia Bhd appointed Imri Mokhtar as acting group CEO due to the resignation of predecessor Datuk Bazlan Osman, while Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin was appointed as the CEO of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, replacing Datuk Mohd Badlisham Ghazali.
While some of the appointments were met with criticism, to an extent of accusing Pakatan Harapan as reneging on their election pledge, the coalition defended them by stating that they were done purely based on merit.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali had said Pakatan Harapan does not rule out appointing politicians with imperative expertise for the top positions in GLCs, but he maintained that appointments as political rewards would not be tolerated.
To restore public trust in Mara, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) appointed Dr Hasnita Hashim (picture) as the chairman, making her the first woman to lead the government agency.
The government also named a six-member Mara Council, including non-political professionals who are tasked to turn Mara around.
They are Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Datuk Dr Ameer Ali Mydin, Datuk Syed Tamim Ansari Syed Mohamed, Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff and Zakri Khir.
The appointments were deemed as a “breath of fresh air” for the agency responsible for Bumiputera advancement, with professionals from various sectors expected to reform it.
Prior to the appointments, the government had placed Mara under the helm of the Rural Development Ministry, a decision made after receiving objections against the government’s proposal to split Mara’s role between various ministries due to the agency’s immense size.
One of the country’s oldest government agencies, Felda has received a new chairman, Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, in the middle of last year.
The entity was in a dire need of reform due to the inheritance problem such as late payments to the settlers.
Megat Zaharuddin replaces Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, who resigned five days after Pakatan Harapan took office.
The agency was put in the spotlight following the presentation of the Felda White Paper, aimed to raise the agency’s professionalism level based on the highest standards of corporate governance.
The White Paper, among others, stated that the appointments of the management in the future will be made up of credible professionals who are free of political interference to ensure that the agency will be transparent.
It also stated that the chairmanship of Felda and its subsidiaries will be separated in order to avoid conflicts of interest in decision-making.
The White Paper also revealed that Felda’s cash balance was pared to RM35 million as at May 9, 2018, from RM400 million as at 2017.
Its cash averaged RM2.5 billion between 2007 and 2011, when it was still profitable, while the net profit was between RM200 million and RM1.1 billion annually.
Earlier this year, debt- and scandal-ridden FGV Holdings Bhd welcomed a new CEO, Datuk Haris Fadzilah Hassan, along with three other members on the management team — Datuk Mohd Hairul Abdul Hamid, Mazri Abdul Rahim and Dr Christina Ooi Su Siang.
The position of CEO was left vacated after Datuk Zakaria Arshad resigned on Sept 18 last year following his suspension on Sept 13 — a decision made after the firm concluded internal investigations of 10 critical issues that had resulted in a financial loss for the company.
FGV suffered a net loss of RM1.08 billion on a revenue of RM13.47 billion for its financial year ended December 2018 (FY18).
It was severely impaired compared to a net profit of RM130.93 million on sales of RM16.92 billion in its FY17.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd appointed Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, the former CEO of the Employees Provident Fund, as its new MD to replace Tan Sri Azman Mokthar who resigned after 14 years and two months at the top post. For the chairmanship, the government announced that Dr Mahathir would fill in the position, with a new line-up of directors.
They are Azmin; Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican, former CEO and president of Petronas; Dr Sukhdave Singh, former deputy governor of Bank Negara Malaysia; and Goh Ching Yin, former ED of market development at the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), as the directors of the sovereign wealth fund.
The appointments complemented the resignation of nine members on the Khazanah board, who had said the departure would facilitate a smooth transition under the new government and enable them to restructure the sovereign wealth fund accordingly.
TH was under fire when the previous administration, led by Umno’s Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, tucked the pilgrim fund under billions of investment losses.
Abdul Azeez, who has served TH for five years, vacated his position on May 14, five days after the 14th General Election.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa revealed that the previous government adjusted the pilgrim fund’s depreciation policy as high as 90% from the norm of 20% to hide losses and push for hibah distribution.
Last year, the government named a new line-up for the pilgrim fund’s administration, with former SC executive chairman Tan Sri Mohammed Nor Md Yusof as its new chairperson.
The pilgrim fund also named former BIMB Holdings Bhd CEO Datuk Seri Zukri Samat as its new CEO.