Make sure GLCs not used for political financing, C4 says after Felda White Paper

PETALING JAYA: The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has urged Putrajaya to ensure that government-linked companies (GLCs) do not serve as vehicles for political financing, following the Felda White Paper which found, among others, that money was channelled to political parties in the May 9 polls.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said this must be reflected in the new legislation on political financing.

She also called for a Public Sector Malfeasance Act to prevent those in public office from misusing their power and inflicting losses and damages to government institutions.

“It has become imperative, now more than ever, that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is committed to ensuring that professionals are appointed into the Felda bodies, FGV, and FIC chairmen, and that these appointments are based on meritorious credentials, not political connections,” she said in a statement today.

The Felda White Paper was tabled by Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said the document found that the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration led by former prime minister Najib Razak had diverted RM2.7 billion from Felda, meant to upgrade its plantations, to buy support for the coalition in the last general election.

He also said Felda’s cash flow was at a critical level, with only RM400 million in its coffers in 2017 compared to an average of RM2.5 billion between 2007 and 2011.

Cynthia said Felda’s recorded losses and liabilities of RM4.9 billion and RM14.4 billion in 2017 were “staggering” and pointed to many areas of poor governance and “outright malfeasance”.

She added that former chairman Isa Samad and former prime minister Najib Razak should be held responsible.

Felda and its subsidiary companies, meanwhile, should be monitored by a parliamentary select committee, and settlers should be allowed greater participation in the Felda decision-making process, she said.

“The government should speed up the establishment of the office of the Ombudsman to supervise the conduct of government administration aimed to enhance and strengthen corporate governance and accountability,” she added.

“C4 Center calls the government, in the name of good governance, to uphold accountability in our economic restructuring and keep Malaysia clean for the future.”