Don’t make GLC appointments a political reward, says think tank

Bloomberg pic.

KUALA LUMPUR: Professionals, not politicians, should lead government-linked companies, think tank Centre for a Better Tomorrow said.

Its vice-president Simon Lim Seng Chai said in a statement today that leadership positions in GLCs should not be a “reward” for any politician.

“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.”

Lim said the government needed to ensure greater transparency in key GLC appointments, and that the main selection criterion should be competency.

Cenbet vice-president Simon Lim Seng Chai wants the government to be more transparent about GLC appointments.

“Key positions in GLCs and government agencies should not be regarded as a 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.”

Lim said Cenbet, as a movement that promoted good governance, was “also disturbed” by the “opaque manner” in which some such appointments had been 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.”

He urged the government to 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, he said, would foster a culture of merit-based appointments. Having the right person for the job was all the more important considering that GLCs, under capable leaders, would be able to generate higher income and better steer these organisations in the face of economic headwinds and ensure taxpayers’ interests were protected, Lim added.

“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.”