Vice-President Dato Simon Lim Seng Chai on Appointments into GLCs
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The government needs to ensure greater transparency for appointments of key positions in GLCs, where the main selection criterion should be competency. Key positions in GLCs and government agencies should not be regarded as political reward. These positions are custodians of public interest, and that includes managing funds that run into billions of ringgit. Therefore, these positions should only be reserved for professionals and those truly qualified.

We are deeply concerned over a rising trend where the Federal and several State governments appoint political leaders into positions in GLCs and agencies which they have no track record of, or where there are others more qualified to do the job. This goes against the spirit of New Malaysia. As a movement that promotes good governance, we are also disturbed over the opaque manner in which some of such appointments were made.

Our history is littered with financial scandals or mismanagement that stemmed from political interference or putting unqualified people to manage GLCs or public-interest institutions. We believe it is not coincidental that some of the GLCs mired in controversies in the past, like FGV, Tabung Haji and PKFZ had been helmed by political appointees at one point or another.

Moving forward, the government should publicly state the basis for key appointments in all GLCs for the sake of transparency. This includes making known the new appointees' track record and why he or she is most qualified for the job. This will foster a culture of merit-based appointments.

Having the right person for the job is all the more pertinent considering that GLCs, under capable leaders, will be able to generate higher income and better steer these organizations in the face of economic headwinds and ensure taxpayers' interests are protected.

It is also time for the government to review the roles of some GLCs. Rightfully, it is not the government's business to be in business (except for certain strategic industries), but to foster a conducive and competitive business environment. This allows private enterprise to thrive, instead of a lopsided business ecosystem where poorly-run GLCs have the edge.

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