PH never promised to end political appointments, says deputy minister

Deputy Rural Development Minister R Sivarasa.

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Rural Development Minister R Sivarasa says Pakatan Harapan (PH) never promised to get rid of political appointees in government-linked companies (GLC) as a whole, and that some have misinterpreted the coalition’s manifesto.

He told FMT the manifesto clearly states that PH will ensure appointments in GLCs are based on merit and professionalism, not that it would do away with them.

“Not that anyone with political affiliations is automatically disqualified,” he added.

“In other words, a person with political affiliations can serve on a board as long as he has the necessary experience and qualifications to do the job.

“We must be measured against what exactly we promised, not by what people think or interpret we promised,” he said.

His comments follow those of an economist who said several political appointments had been made in GLCs under the rural development ministry, with up to eight representatives – six of whom lost in the general election – from PPBM, PKR and Amanah given director roles.

Edmund Terence Gomez also slammed the patronage system, saying the government was employing the same mechanism used by Umno and giving these positions to keep individuals loyal to the party.

But Sivarasa said political appointees in GLCs are important to ensure that the companies work in tandem with Putrajaya’s ideals and policies.

He said the government would not compromise in upholding the principles of transparency and accountability, and that the interests of the GLCs as well as the public are the priority.

“We are confident that under PH, we will not see the financial scandals, leakage and corruption that was seen, for example, in Felda, Tabung Haji, 1MDB, Mara and other GLCs under Barisan Nasional.

“GLCs will serve the public interest and will not be abused for individual or party interests,” he said.

Gomez had also called for GLCs to be placed under the purview of parliamentary select committees, saying the issue had more to do with control than professionals on the board.

Sivarasa said this was Gomez’s opinion. He added that the manifesto had promised the establishment of a parliamentary committee to receive GLC performance reports from the finance ministry.

“People may have their own views on how GLCs should operate. We respect their right to those views. But in all fairness, we should be evaluated based only on what we say in our Buku Harapan.

“In respect to GLCs, one should read the whole of Promise 22 and also read it in the context of the Buku Harapan as a whole, not pluck words and phrases from here and there.”