[NST] 'MPs are not necessarily qualified to lead GLCs'
Friday, April 17, 2020

 KUALA LUMPUR: Being an elected representative should not be the prerequisite for heading a government-linked-company (GLC).

Vice-president of the Centre for A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) Datuk Simon Lim Seng Chai said it is unsurprising that the proposal for all government backbenchers to be appointed as heads of GLCs is unpopular with members of the civil society.

With a 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, he said.

He added that 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,” he said in a statement, today.

Lim said if a particular Member of Parliament has the necessary knowledge, expertise or qualification, perhaps it is justifiable.

However he said those appointed to head GLCs must be the best that the nation can offer, if they are to chart their recovery post-Covid-19.

Lim said 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 criterion 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,” he said.

Lim added that the move by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to appoint technocrats such as Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to Cabinet indicates his desire to have the best talent serve the country, and also points to the dearth of expertise available among 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 backbenchers,” he said.

Lim also questioned whether the political appointments are a necessity, in terms of corporate governance, business efficacy or business strategy, as well as how they would benefit a company and its 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, he added.

Lim said Pakatan Harapan had 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, he added.


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