Time To End Political Appointments and Patronage to Government-Linked Companies

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) questions the need for Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim to perpetuate the practice by previous administrations to make political appointees at government-linked companies. The latest is his appointment of YB Wong Chen, a MP from his party as Non-Executive Chairman of Malaysia Debts Ventures Berhad (MDV), a GLC or state-owned enterprise.

While we applaud Wong Chen’s self-imposed limits to his role in that he will not chair the board committees on risk management, remuneration, audit, and financing and investments to minimise any conflict of interest issues, we wonder if there is such a dearth of talents in our country that the PM must appoint Wong Chen?

We do not question Wong Chen’s qualification or his ability to head such an enterprise. In fact, Wong Chen has proven to be an able MP and he has also been appointed by his parliamentary colleagues to Chair the important Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on International Relations and Trade, as well as being the Chair of the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Financing. All these are on top of his primary role and duty as an elected MP and lawmaker for Subang.

Economic Minister YB Rafizi Ramli’s recent announcement for qualified candidates to apply to be CEOs of two GLCs under his ministry, Teraju and Peneraju, should be emulated and legislated to be part of the new SOP for appointments to GLCs and statutory boards.

While Wong Chen was vetted by the MACC, such appointments should be vetted by the relevant Parliamentary Special Select Committees (PSSC) and elected representatives should be excluded as candidates for GLC positions, though exceptions could be made for key statutory bodies that oversee and direct government policies. The scrutiny by PSSCs will ensure that only qualified individuals are appointed to key positions in GLCs and statutory boards as these enterprises are custodians of public wealth, and not private businesses.

The Prime Minister of this unity government must seize this opportunity to end the decades of political appointments and patronage that have in the past ended in corruption and/or mismanagement of these GLCs. Let the appointment process be open and transparent so that qualified Malaysians who want to serve their country through GLCs and statutory bodies can apply.

Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH