Expect return of politicians as GLC bosses, says analyst

Perikatan Nasional has only a razor thin majority support from among the 222 MPs.

PUTRAJAYA: A political analyst says politicians, particularly MPs, may again be appointed to head government agencies and government-linked companies (GLCs) as the Perikatan Nasional (PN)coalition looks to consolidate its support.

Speaking to FMT, Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff noted PN’s razor-thin majority support from among the country’s 222 MPs.

“Any crossing over of MPs has the potential to rock the new government. As it is, only 70 or so can be given minister or deputy minister posts, leaving more than 40 others without posts

“So it is only logical for the new government to fill in the remaining posts, especially posts in GLCs, with MPs to ensure they don’t run away.”

He was commenting on reports that a change of guard in key government agencies may be in the pipeline.

A source in the know had told FMT that Felcra chairman Nageeb Wahab, Felda chairman Bakke Salleh and Socso chairaman Zakri Khir, who were appointed by the previous administration, would be replaced.

All three have decades of experience in their fields, and the opposition has criticised the government for sackings in GLCs amid the Covid-19 crisis.

But unlike Pakatan Harapan, Kamarul said, PN had not promised that it would not appoint politicians to head GLCs.

“So in the end, consolidation of power prevails over professionalism or good governance.”

But with a strong opposition in place, he added, politicians would not likely be “daring enough to do funny things in their GLCs”.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia analyst Azmi Hassan said while the timing of the sackings might be seen as inappropriate by some, the government needed to fill agencies and GLCs with those whom it feels are able to perform according to its policies.

“In this respect, it is okay for the government to replace the heads, but if the replacements are just to reward government supporters, then it is not right.

“If the new heads are better in terms of experience than their predecessors, it should be accepted by all.”

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs research manager Aira Azhari, meanwhile, said the appointments of heads of government agencies and GLCs should be based on merit, experience and expertise.

“Any political party links that the individual has must be declared beforehand and the individual must resign from any post they hold beforehand.

“Additionally, there must be an institutional framework that puts in place appropriate measures to curb patronage, corruption and conflicts of interest that happen due to the individual’s party or family ties.”

She added that appointments to agencies and GLCs should not be political rewards and that to ensure credibility, the appointment process must be transparent.