CENBET vice-president Dato’ Simon Lim Seng Chai: Being a parliamentarian should not be a pre-requisite to head GLCs
Friday, April 17, 2020

It is unsurprising that the proposal for all government backbenchers to be appointed as head of GLCs is unpopular with members of civil society.


With the public health crisis at hand, and a looming economic recession to follow, the proposal by PAS’ secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan is not only untimely but goes against good corporate governance.


The impact of COVID-19 has increased unemployment and retrenchment as businesses are forced to reduce operating costs to survive. In a time of crisis, the calibre of top corporate leaders will be telling in navigating companies out of the storm.


This is not a time to appease political supporters. Positions in GLCs, whether at board level or as top executives, should be attained on merit.


If a particular MP has the necessary knowledge, expertise or qualification, perhaps it is justifiable. They must be the best we have, if GLCs are to chart their recovery post COVID-19. Competency is key, as corporations face a monumental task with the world anticipating a recession post COVID-19.


Let us be clear – being on the right side of the political divide is not, and should not, be a criteria to head a GLC. GLCs are not meant to be a training ground, or used as a platform for political patronage at the expense of taxpayers.


The Prime Minister has appointed some technocrats, such as Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to the Cabinet. This indicates his desire to have the best talent serve the country, as well as the dearth of expertise available among the backbenchers.


We strongly urge the Prime Minister to continue on the path of appointing the best talent available to do the job. And he must look beyond the backbenchers.


It is important to ask: Are these political appointments necessary or a necessity, in terms of corporate governance, business efficacy or business strategy? How will they benefit the company and shareholders?


With an economic recession on the horizon, we should be looking at optimising resources by shrinking the top to maintain job opportunities for the lower income group, instead of enlarging the board of directors and laying off the M40 and B40.


The B40 and M40 were the top priority when the Prime Minister announced the economic stimulus packages, and we hope that he continues on this track.


Pakatan Harapan has reneged on its election pledge on political appointees to GLCs, though they have largely avoided mass appointment of MPs. The Perikatan Nasional government can do better by upholding national interest over political interest.

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