Guessing game continues on PNB new leadership

Chairperson, CEO posts yet to be filled as more politically-linked individuals appointed to helm GLCs

by AZREEN HANI & HARIZAH KAMEL/ graphic by MZUKRI

THE individuals who will take up the leading roles at Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) continue to be a waiting game after the shocking departure of Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed as the fund’s CEO last week.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) had reported that two Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s men, former MD Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar and the current deputy MD Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn, have been offered the chairman and CEO posts respectively.

However, at press time, it is not known whether the duo have officially accepted the offers.

“It is also quite a risky move to come back from retirement, or join another organisation during uncertain times like this,” sources familiar with the matter told TMR.

“Azman has nothing to lose by not accepting the offer too,” another source said.

The sources added that the vacuum of leadership at PNB does not bode well with investor confidence and should be resolved soon, especially as the nation is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is learned that PNB chairman Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s selection of Abdul Jalil, along with his “qualifications”, were among the contentious issues that were brought up in PNB’s recent board meeting, paving way for talks for her to be replaced as well.

Abdul Jalil, in announcing his resignation last Monday, claimed that he was harassed by hate calls from unknown numbers, as well as the hacking of his corporate email account and LinkedIn profile. He said the harassment was the last straw which led to his resignation.

The controversy surrounding the 37-year-old’s departure heightens as the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) said it is investigating allegations of discrepancies in Abdul Jalil’s appointment in October 2019. SC said it was recently notified of incongruities in PNB’s submission on Abdul Jalil’s academic qualifications and work experience, and has since received confirmation on the anomalies in the submission.

PNB in a response last Friday told TMR that the firm is attending to the matter and will give an update in due course. On Saturday, The Star, quoting sources, reported that Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, who was made interim acting chairman of Sime Darby Bhd, was tipped to replace Zeti pending a decision on PNB’s chairmanship.

The sweeping corporate changes under the new Perikatan Nasional government has so far showed no signs of slowing down as more politically-linked individuals were appointed to the helm of government-linked companies (GLCs).

Tanjong Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar made headlines last week for resigning as chairman of MISC Bhd after being appointed to the post on June 1. Noh said the decision was made following his discussion with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Last Wednesday, Umno man Datuk Seri Syed Ali Syed Abbas Al-Habshee was named the new chairman of the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council’s Zakat Collection Centre (PPZ-MAIWP).

In a statement, PPZ-MAIWP said Syed Ali succeeds Datuk Che Mat Che Ali who ended his tenure on May 31.

“PPZ-MAIWP is confident that Syed Ali will be able to carry out the trust in distributing charity alms and thus increasing the zakat collection in the Federal Territory every year.”

The former Cheras Umno division chief previously held important positions in several GLCs, such as chairman of Perbadanan Nasional Bhd and a board of director at Technology Park Malaysia.

In the same week, Parit MP Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria was appointed as chairman of the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN). The announcement was made by LPPKN, a department under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, on its official website and Facebook page.

Mohd Nizar, an Umno politician, takes over the LPPKN chairmanship from Datuk Dr Narimah Awin, who was appointed by the Pakatan Harapan government in March 2019.

Also, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry announced the appointment of Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff as the new chairman of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp for a two-year term, replacing Datuk Mathialakan Chelliah.

Former PKR division chief Zakaria Abdul Hamid was named the new chairman of National Film Development Corp Malaysia, replacing Datuk Hans Isaac who served since April last year.

Zakaria made headlines late last year when he was reported to have been booted from his party due to corruption allegations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. He has since maintained his innocence.

Another notable appointment is Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek as the new chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), a role previously filled by Al-Ishsal Ishak since October 2018.

Dr Fadhlullah served as Universiti Perdana VC and CEO, and is a former MCMC commissioner with 20 years of experience in the telecommunications sector.

Former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan’s appointment to Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s board of directors from May 15, 2020, until May 14, 2023, surprised many.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia VP and Selangor PPBM chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari was named chairman of the Malaysia Highway Authority, effective June 1, 2020, until May 31, 2022.