GLC appointments continue apace amid power tussle

There’s a risk that appointments at GLCs and statutory bodies can be used as a political tool to solidify the govt’s rule


PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be looking to solidify his position further by continuing the appointment of political leaders to the board of state-owned companies.

Several changes were made in recent weeks as troubles within the ruling coalition have left Muhyiddin’s razor-thin majority in question.

They include the appointments of Umno Langkawi chief Datuk Nawawi Ahmad and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Rawisandran Narayanan as Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) independent and non-EDs.

Changes are also expected at the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) and the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), with former LTAT CEO Nik Amlizan Mohamed said to be in the running to be KWAP’s new CEO, sources told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director Prof James Chin viewed the latest round of appointments at government-linked companies (GLCs) as a continuation of Muhyiddin’s plan to consolidate power rather than an act that was triggered by recent events.

“This is not related to the current political crisis as they were made some time ago. It will go on regardless of the power tussle because the paperwork has been done already.

“Muhyiddin will bring the GLCs back to pre-2018 before the regime change, and will bring back a lot of old faces,” he told TMR.

Chin said recent changes were made as part of Muhyiddin’s plan to regain control of GLCs from Pakatan Harapan appointees.

He said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition would also want to reward its supporters by appointing them to the board of GLCs.

Other examples include Datuk Arpan Shah Satu, who was named Astral Asia Bhd independent and non-executive chairman.

UEM Sunrise Bhd independent and non-ED Subimal Sen Gupta Sen had also resigned due to “personal reasons”, while MD and CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib gave notice of his resignation “to pursue other opportunities”.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs economics and business unit research executive Nur Zulaikha Azmi said there have been more shake-ups in statutory bodies, since the PN government took over, compared to GLCs.

She said there is a risk that appointments at GLCs and statutory bodies can be used as a political tool to solidify the government’s rule, especially if it is made up of a coalition of political parties.

“Appointing MPs into these positions risks becoming a political reward or bargaining tool in exchange for loyalty.

“Political appointment in statutory bodies is also of concern as the way statutory bodies are governed, compared to GLCs, is less transparent. This makes it more convenient for politicians to intervene and make major decisions, such as appointing the chairman and board members,” she said.

Nur Zulaikha said political appointments to boards, if made based on merit and qualifications, can be acceptable, but it has to be done transparently.

She said politicians might have conflicting interests if they are appointed to lead GLCs.