Friday, February 26, 2016
See also earlier related post:-
25 FEBRUARY 2016
ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES SHOULD HOLD NO PLACE IN GLCs.
TIME FOR A REAL PARADIGM SHIFT
The recent furore involving the sacking of the PKR duo from the Penang GLCs Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng and Bukit Tengah assemblyman Ong Chin Wen from the boards of the Penang Hill Corporation, and InvestPenang and Island Golf Properties Bhd, respectively, has kicked up a storm that could have been avoided if there were good corporate governance measures disallowing elected representatives from partaking in the work of government linked companies (GLC) .
This statement however, aspires not to take sides nor play judge on who is right or wrong. Instead we at the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) view with alarm the brand of factionalised politics – where elected representatives vote solely according to fraternity, thus diagnosing a severe lack in independence (on both sides of the divide) amongst the officials we elect to represent our needs and rights. This as we know is a prevalent practice in parliament, with the most recent example, being the vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
What concerns us further is that this episode has raised a number of pertinent questions that ought to be answered by the political leadership at the State and Federal levels, on the real roles that GLCs play in the administration, its policies on governance, mode of operations, and financial accountability measures.
Should elected representatives and politically active individuals (even at the branch level) be rightful candidates appointed as directors of top management of GLCs? How will political connections play out? Will these GLCs compromise professional and impartial decision making if pressured? Of course there can be exceptions on very rare occasions where a particular politician’s professional expertise could be of immense value to a particular field, and hence his / her appointment could be explained and justified. But this should be the exception rather than the norm. The issue of conflict of interest must be clearly checked, for any which way it is plainly wrong.
It must be emphasised that the role of an elected representative, and primary responsibility is to serve his / her constituents, must be accountable to the people first and foremost, and should not involve in any business, commercial or any activities otherwise deemed detrimental, and one that could contradict the needs and aspirations of the people they represent.
Malaysia’s GLCs, have, in the past, been cited as among the most extensive and powerful in the world in terms of capitalisation, market presence and socio-political mandate – comprising more than 30 percent of the Malaysian stock exchange’s capitalisation. There are a multitude of issues that arise from the hiring of politically connected individuals to govern these critical entities, including the transparency of their appointment, their qualification for the responsibilities, (perceived) independence, and the risk of acting as political proxies, amongst others.
In line with the government’s GLC transformation programme, GLCs need to be devolved and privatised at a quicker rate, and allowed to appoint the most qualified and suitable candidates for their Board of directors and Top Management.
Further feuds and vengeful politics could be minimised in the future through the reduction of politically influenced individuals directing state-owned enterprises.
Released By The C4 Board of Directors
Tan Sri SImpon Sipaun – Chairman
Cynthia Gabriel – Executive Director
Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
Professor Zaharom Nain