Calls made for political appointees in GLCs, GLICs to step down

by AFIQ AZIZ & ASILA JALIL / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

MORE calls have been made for political appointees at government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) during the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration to vacate their posts.

University Malaya professor of political economy Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez said the companies need to run effectively, especially as the nation is facing serious economic and health crises.

“When you make political appointments, GLCs will tend to lose their direction.

“All these political appointees that are highly ‘questionable’ should all step down immediately if he or she was appointed by the previous government,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.

He said their resignation would not have a detrimental effect on the companies as there are still managers of the institutions that can manage the operations.

Besides GLCs, and GLICs, Gomez highlighted the same should apply to statutory bodies, listed and unlisted companies, as well as universities that have political appointees at their top posts.

He added that appointments made at foundations that have control over such institutions should also be scrutinised to ensure the structure is clear of all politically-motivated interests.

“Board of directors are at the highest decision-making level, they control professional managers. So if you put a professional board there, with a professional managerial team, then the GLCs can function better in the interest of the country.

“If there is any political appointment, they have to go immediately,” he said.

Many changes were made at GLCs’ top posts last year after PN got hold of the administration, replacing almost all of the previous appointments made by Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Critics have said that the changes in these institutions were made to cement Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and PN’s survival.

In the meantime, some Umno members have stepped down from their GLC posts after the party announced its retraction of support for Muhyiddin.

Among the main shake-up that took place while PN was in power included the appointment of Tanjong Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar as the chairman of Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd and Umno Langkawi chief Datuk Nawawi Ahmad and Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Rawisandran Narayanan as Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s independent and non-EDs.

Others included Pas leader Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi, who was named as chairman of the Islamic Propagation Foundation of Malaysia, and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff as Malaysia Digital Economy Corp chairman.

Setiawangsa MP and PKR politician Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad also urged political appointees at these institutions to resign following Muhyiddin’s resignation on Monday.

“With the resignation of the PM, their reasons and legitimacy to stay on at their posts have come to an end as well. Most of these bodies are professionally run, so any disruption should be minimal,” he said on his official Twitter account yesterday.

Nik Nazmi said the next government must fill the positions professionally and appoint individuals based on merit, rather than political considerations.

Meanwhile, former Prasarana Malaysia Bhd group CEO Muhammad Nizam Alias told TMR that political appointments in GLCs would not become an issue if the appointments were made for the good of the people.

He said it would be difficult to gain the trust of the public on the appointments if their interests in the organisations have been compromised for the benefit of any political party.

“It becomes an issue when people’s interests are neglected, and party’s and self-interest are pursued.

“It is very hard to convince the public that political appointees are put there to take care of the public’s interest even if professionals are recommended to the board by the ruling government, unless they see with their very own eyes that corporate governance is respected, investment decisions made above board, money spent wisely and others,” he said.

Muhammad Nizam was removed from Prasarana as the group’s president and CEO on Feb 23, 2021, after only seven months at the helm.