by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE
THE Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has called for a new law to introduce thorough reforms to the appointment process of chairperson and director of government-linked investment corporations (GLICs), government-linked corporations (GLCs) and all commercially-related statutory bodies.
In a statement recently, the coalition said a new GLC Act should be legislated to define GLCs clearly and to regulate the appointment process of their chairman, president and directors in compliance with transparency, accountability and meritocracy.
It added that the Select Committee of Parliament should be given power to scrutinise the appointment process as a check and balance mechanism.
“Such reform is much needed as the power is currently highly concentrated in the hands of the executive, especially the prime minister.
“It has been abused during Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan’s rule for political patronage and control of resources at the expense of merit, competency and professionalism,” Bersih 2.0 said in the statement.
The coalition also claimed that the unchecked abuse of such power worsened during the Perikatan Nasional government when positions in GILCs, GLCs and commercially-related statutory bodies were used to entice elected representatives to cross party and to support the government in its attempts to hold on to power.
Citing a report from the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Bersih 2.0 said although a case can be made where the executive appoints his trusted persons to have oversight, especially in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) carrying out important public policy objectives, the appointment of politicians into these SOEs should be avoided to minimise conflict of interest.
It added that the Select Committee of Parliament should vet the appointments to ensure it is made based on qualifications and not for personal or political gain.
Calling for greater integrity, Bersih 2.0 has outlined four recommendations for the relevant parties to consider.
Firstly, it urged the prohibition of appointing elected representatives in these organisations through a new GLC Act, or by amendment of existing relevant laws such as the Companies Act 2016.
“Empower Select Committee of Parliament to scrutinise and approve director nominees of GLICs, GLCs or commercially-related statutory bodies under respective ministries.
“This system can also be emulated by state governments for state GLICs, GLCs and commercially-related statutory bodies,” Bersih 2.0 said.
In addition, the coalition stressed that a clear definition of GLCs and GLICs, which is applicable at both the state and federal levels, should be laid out in a new GLC Actor in an existing law like the Companies Act 2016.
It noted that this will form the basis to institutionalise reforms relating to the process and requirements of GLC director appointments.
“Meanwhile, enhanced disclosure and transparency are mandatory through periodic reports on listed and unlisted GLICs and GLCs that should include important information such as director remuneration, director background and tender bids, among others.
“A specific body such as the Putrajaya Committee on GLC High Performance should take on this task,” it added.