PETALING JAYA: Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) says it is time to stop the practice of appointing politicians, both current and former, to boards of government-linked companies (GLCs) and public interest entities (PIEs).
TI-M president Akhbar Satar said this in a statement today when commenting on the arrest of former Felda chairman Mohd Isa Samad by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
On Tuesday, Isa was arrested by the MACC when he went to its headquarters in Putrajaya to give a statement pertaining to investigations into the purchase of a hotel in London by Felda subsidiary, Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), in 2014. The Jempol MP was remanded yesterday for five days to further assist the MACC in its probe.
“Isa was handpicked by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2011 to head Felda, a government related entity responsible for looking after the wellbeing of more than 100,000 smallholders and their families.
“As it utilises public funds, therefore the corporate governance standards in Felda and similar entities must be of the highest level,” Akhbar said.
He added that there must be collective responsibility and accountability by the Felda board too for having approved the hotel purchases in question.
“Were they not aware of the huge disparity in valuations of the properties?” he asked referring to the alleged RM110 million extra that FIC had paid to purchase the London hotel.
FIC, the investment arm of Felda focusing mainly on real estate, hospitality and the oil and gas sectors, is said to have bought the four-star Park City Hotel in upmarket Kensington, London, in December 2014 for RM330 million.
“These questions go to the heart of sound corporate governance practice which is intended to identify and mitigate risks before they become a liability to the company,” Akhbar said.
He also warned the authorities that Isa’s case will come under close scrutiny on both the local and international fronts.
“Today the people are watching and judging to see whether this current case will be allowed to proceed with due legal process, or will it take a sudden turn and end up like other lost cases which were announced with much fanfare, only to end with a whimper.
“Institutional investors and credit rating agencies are also watching to see how serious Malaysia is in tackling corruption,” Akhbar said before calling for zero political interference in the development and progress of this case moving forward.
He then urged all parties to respect MACC’s responsibility to pursue its investigations fully and without fear or favour.
“Should there be sufficient evidence as deemed by the MACC, a charge should be made and due legal process must take its course.
“It is important to note that perception and public confidence are important aspects of a democratic system that upholds the rule of law.”
According to Akhbar, the people have a negative perception towards the government owing to the repeated (or perceived) instances of selective prosecution in corruption cases.
“This negative perception was further fuelled by the manner in which Isa was appointed acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) by Najib almost immediately after he quit as Felda Global Ventures chairman, following corruption allegations made against him.
“Justice must be done and be seen to be done. The people expect nothing less, being tired of the repeated scandals plaguing our nation,” he said.