by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE government has no business to be in business, and government-linked companies (GLCs) should not crowd out and directly compete with the private sector, especially in non-strategic businesses, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
Dr Mahathir said GLCs must be able to coexist in a space and compete on a level playing field.
He stressed that GLCs should be professionally run and not stifle competition in the private sector.
“There exists an imbalance in public and private sector participation in corporate Malaysia today, which, if left unchecked, could prove detrimental to our nation’s future,” Dr Mahathir said at the inaugural Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) Corporate Summit 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
To build a solid and inclusive future for Malaysia, the PM said GLCs and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) must re-evaluate their level of participation in corporate Malaysia and recognise their synergies with the private sector, particularly towards empowering entrepreneurs.
He further said the private sector’s expansion is vital to spur growth by creating more opportunities for employment, enabling entrepreneurs to scale up their business and to bring in foreign direct investment to accelerate domestic growth.
“Today, GLCs and GLICs are very involved in almost every sector of the economy. While this has created corporate juggernauts, it needs to be recognised that it is not their role to smother opportunities for others,” he added.
Still, he said there are a few exceptions such as in the manufacturing sector, in which the strong growth has been underpinned by strong private investment.
But, according to Dr Mahathir, these do not mean that GLCs and GLICs should not play a role.
For instance, he said PNB has done an excellent job over its mandate on affirmative action with a view to increase Bumiputera participation and ownership in the corporate sector.
Other GLICs such as Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera, Retirement Fund Inc, Employees Provident Fund, Lembaga Tabung Haji, Federal Land Development Authority and Khazanah Nasional Bhd were also mentioned with their respective mandates, although Dr Mahathir said these GLICs were previously misused out of the mandates.
“These GLICs have well-established and clear mandates. Unfortunately, despite the clear mandates, these GLICs were previously subverted to serve the interest of self-serving and greedy leaders,” he said.
Dr Mahathir called on corporate Malaysia to look to the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (2021-2030) as an ideal to be upheld in all aspects.
“I truly believe we have a real and genuine opportunity to reboot corporate Malaysia. We must have the will to see this through and cannot let this opportunity pass us by,” he added.
He said GLCs and GLICs must focus on creating strong institutions and establishing the necessary infrastructure and supportive policies, to fuel the growth and become a catalyst that would spur the private sector.
Themed “Rebooting Corporate Malaysia”, the summit — organised by PNB Research Institute Sdn Bhd — aimed at creating a trigger point for the transformation of corporate Malaysia by bringing together local, regional and international perspectives and insights.
PNB group chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said the summit aimed to surface important issues relevant to the corporate sector, including the need for modernisation and transformation in a rapidly changing economic and financial landscape, impacted by geopolitical and social developments.