GEORGE TOWN: A Universiti Malaya professor today called for members of the opposition and civil society to be included in an oversight panel introduced recently to monitor Penang Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), a Penang government-owned private company.
CMI, dubbed the state investment arm, came under the spotlight after it was revealed that it had no accounts to show or board members. It is under the full control of the chief minister, with some oversight by the state executive council.
Terence Gomez, who has researched extensively on government-linked companies (GLCs), praised Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow for introducing a “monitoring committee”, comprising state executive councillors and heads of civil service.
He said Chow can do further by also furnishing all financial records of the CMI ever since it was established in 2009 up till today as a body corporate under state law.
Gomez said as CMI was technically a private company under federal law, it should have its annual accounts in store, ever since it started.
Going back to the new CMI monitoring committee, he said it was important to include a neutral party, such as an opposition member and the civil service, to ensure oversight credibility.
“A federal bureaucrat ought to be placed in the committee. After all, politically, the state and federal government are in sync now.
“This is to ensure that development plans sync with national interests,” he said.
Gomez said the CMI institution was not necessary as there were other state economic development corporations (SEDCs), such as the Penang Development Corporation (PDC), which could do the same functions as the CMI.
He said the PDC could also engage in land deals, with checks and balances already in place, as compared to the CMI.
He said despite CMI running its decisions on investment through the state executive council, there was too much power vested with the CM.
“The CMI is a political entity. In other states, its called Menteri Besar Incorporated. This is in contrast with SEDCs which come with board members making all decisions, unlike the CMI.”