Friday, August 07, 2020

Guan Eng charged with corruption - Supporters angry just like Najib's supporters were when Najib charged? Be true to values and principles?

When former Prime Minister Najib was charged, many of his supporters shouted 'injustice' and 'political persecution, etc ....and now when Lim Guan Eng has been charged, likewise his supporters are claiming the same...Is this not funny?

Malaysians need to stand by their values and principles....friend or foe, being a 'victim' of the administration of justice mechanisms in Malaysia ought to receive a similar response > The courts, after a fair trial, will decide on guilt or innocence > and until that the presumption that one is innocent until proven guilty applies.

Law enforcers and prosecutors, and judges must always be INDEPENDENT and carry out their duties and responsibilities independently in accordance to the law. They ought never to be found acting according to the instructions, and/or 'whims and fancies' of the government of the day.

Right to CRIMINAL COMPENSATION for victims must be put in place - Anyone charged, tried and found NOT guilty deserves to be COMPENSATED by the State. Anyone, who have been charged, and then find the prosecution discontinuing the case mid-stream ought to be compensated.

Anyone arrested and remanded but then are not charged in court also deserves to be COMPENSATED by the State.

This is only JUST - for whenever anyone is arrested, remanded and/or charged, the reasonably will have suffered much losses - impact on their jobs, business and/or income, the cost that they had to incur in engagement of lawyers and defending themselves, the cost they suffered in how their name/image gets affected by such enforcement/prosecutions - the biggest victim is always the POOR - the rich lesser.

We need a good and independent enforcement and prosecution - and thus the EXISTENCE of criminal compensation would DETER wrongful(or unnecessary) arrest, remand and/or prosecution.

CRIMINAL COMPENSATION rates - well, reasonably it is best that it be legislated, setting a fixed sum, the same for the poor and the very rich. [Of course, even after receiving this legal compensation, nothing is preventing further civil court actions asking for additional damages and cost.

In a civil case, the courts do award costs - which will cover some(if not all) the monies expended for lawyers, etc BUT not so in CRIMINAL cases - you may be freed without charge, charged but found not guilty - but the victim is not even compensated for the cost that he had incurred in his defence - the cost of lawyers, etc... THAT is why CRIMINAL COMPENSATION must be an automatic legal right.

Now, every Malaysian knows, that no one needs to be remanded and forced to stay in police lock-ups to facilitate police or other enforcement agencies investigations - INVESTIGATION can still continue without any REMAND - This is the awareness after what happened to Najib, Rosmah, Zahid Ibrahim, etc... Police can arrest and release suspects, simply requiring them to turn up at that time or this time for the purposes of investigations - However, if they fail to turn up, then there may be no choice but to arrest and detain under remand for investigations...

PAKATAN HARAPAN plus government came into power with the promise of REFORMS - but, after they got power, many are disappointed that the promises of REFORM was not speedily implemented - especially the REPEAL of bad laws, including the bad provisions in some laws.

SOSMA was not repealed, let alone amended - an amendment to allows for Bail for those charged with the many offences listed in SOSMA also did not happen.

SEDITION Act - Not only was it not repealed, but it was also used during the PH reign. Some argued that it may be still needed for 'seditious' comments made against the Royalty - well, then it could have been amended at the very least. Sedition is a bad law because it criminalizes even statements which are TRUE and/or justified. So, even if you say something true, it still could be an offence under the Sedition Act.

Detention Without Trial laws like POCA, POTA still exist...The problem with Detention Without Trial laws, is that the victim cannot even challenge in court the REASONS used by the government to detain/restrict a person. So, false reasons can be used, can they not? And you have NO right to challenge it even in court. These laws can be used because they simply cannot prove the person guilty in court? Guilt is determined by Court - but under Detention Without Trial laws, they simply allow the authorities to avoid the Courts. But PH did not repeal these laws...

Many are angry about what happened in the Musa Aman case, where the prosecution discontinued proceedings and the courts acquitted them. ACQUITTAL means that even if later new and sufficient evidence comes to light, then the person acquitted CAN NEVER again be charged for the same offences. Normally prosecution discontinues a criminal case because on evaluation, prosecution may decide that there is insufficient evidence not to successfully prove the guilt of the person/accussed beyond reasonable doubt to get a conviction. To continue any criminal case in that situation, with the high possibility that the accused will get ACQUITTED is unjust and foolish - so they discontinue the case, and justly the court will 'DISCHARGE NOT AMOUNTING AN ACQUITTAL'.

Many were unhappy as to what happened in the 'Cowgate Scandal' case, but then, when PH came into power, the same happened in the Lim Guan Eng and even the LTTE case.

So when the PH Plus lost power, by reason of 'party hopping' and other reasons, and during the rule of the new Perikatan Nasional government, similar things happen in the Musa Aman's case - I would say that the now opposition, previously in PH Plus, have simply lost the MORAL AUTHORITY to criticize.

Do DAP, PKR, Amanah, Warisan and others in the PH PLUS government previously have the MORAL AUTHORITY anymore ...OR the people's trust anymore?

Even if the MAJORITY in the PH Plus government decided not to REPEAL these bad laws, parties that held a different position could always VOICE out their differences so everyone knows. They could have said that the party wanted to abolish this and that bad LAW but will abide with the majority decision of the coalition government members > Then, at least people will know that these parties have not changed or abandoned the stance/positions.

Nazri Aziz, when Minister in Barisan Nasional, several times came out and stated his personal position that the death penalty ought to be abolished, but he also said that it was his personal position, and not the position of the then Cabinet (or even his own party or the BN).

Likewise, individual political parties and politicians in the PH Plus government, could have done the same - reassuring members and supporters that their 'position', principles and struggles remain the same - but alas, they generally did not - and some of them, as Ministers, continued to use these draconian bad laws.

Najib's supporters continue to believe in his innocence, despite the conviction by the High Court ...and now Guan Eng's supporters is doing the same...

Is LIM GUAN ENG guilty? Well, nothing wrong with having and expressing your personal opinions - but it is BEST that we wait for the TRIAL and let the courts decide especially when the charges are about corruption or abuse of powers...

Different would be if the offence were connected to words spoken or comments made, or even exercising of one's right to freedom of expression, opinion and/or peaceful assembly?

Is Guan Eng innocent of these corruption and abuse of power charges? Are all Opposition politicians 'crime-free'? Nobody can 100% say this is the case - we just do not know.

We simply have to trust the prosecution and the Judges will be truly INDEPENDENT and do their jobs as required by law, uninfluenced by the politicians and/or the government of the day.

Judges are also human and thus not infallible. They can make 'mistakes'. Remember the Altantuya murder trial - the High Court convicted, then the Court of Appeal reversed the decision and acquitted, and then Federal Court decided that otherwise and convicted the two. Today, with media reporting of some cases, the ordinary man will be able to also see what happens in court ...and may even form their own opinion of guilt or innocence, which may be different from the decision of the courts, that is OK with regard to personal opinions, but what the courts ultimately decide INDEPENDENTLY stands as the final decision. Even after the Federal Court decides, the convicted still has options to apply for reviews, etc - to urge the courts to reconsider.

Was the discontinuance and acquittal in the 'Cowgate scandal case', the previous Lim Guan Eng's case, the LTTE case, the Musa Aman's case not INDEPENDENT decisions of the court, or were they 'politically' or otherwise influenced? If they were, do we in Malaysia have sufficient avenues to ensure Justice be done? Is there are NEED for reform.

LTTE case - the problem then was the unhappiness with the denial of bail under SOSMA...and the unhappiness of the offence of being in possession books, posters and other materials (allegedly terrorist material)- Then, the PH Plus government should have done the following fast:-
- REPEAL or amend SOSMA
- Remove such offences of possessing books, articles and paraphenelia allegedly related to 'terrorism' from the current list of SOSMA offences;
- Repealed that offence of possession of such materials as an offence in Malaysia
-...SO WHY DID NOTHING HAPPEN?

BUT then after the discontinuation of proceedings and ACQUITTAL of the accused in the LTTE case, PH PLUS failed to do this > not even the Tabling of a Bill for first reading.

Did any of the MPs even table a 'Private Member's Bill', which they can do as was done by then Hadi Awang when he was in Opposition - that motion to amend Act 355, that will give power to state government the power to increase penalties for Syariah offences - in terms of length of imprisonment, fines and/or even 'whipping'. Hadi, in his motion NEVER asked for the cutting of limbs, and clearly did not want the death penalty. Act 355, just like the Local Government and Housing Act and similar Acts, that restricts State powers for matters that really ought to be under the State according to our Federal Constitution really ought to be REPEALED. Such a Federal Law also prevented State Governments from having Local Council elections in their States. DAP and PKR were for Local Council Elections - but when in power simply did not REPEAL that Federal law that prevents State Government from having Local Council Elections in their State. WHY?

During the previous BN rule, many of the powers of the State and Local Government have been removed/restricted by the Federal Government through Federal laws - and may not be right?

Because of his previous acquittal, LIM GUAN ENG can never be charged again for the same offences...and that is certainly not right, for we can never know what other evidence may emerge later, which may be sufficient to find him guilty of these crimes.

Corruption and abuse of powers was major concern pre-GE14, but has there been any new and clearer laws and offences brought in by PH PLus?

End of the day - let us stick to our principles and values > and not be swayed by politicians and political parties.

REMEMBER - the anger of many in Malaysia is the unhappiness with sudden change of the 'coalition government' and the return of power of BN, even before the PH Plus(Alternative Government) had the opportunity to show the people of Malaysia how they can be a better government for Malaysia - Many will say, that the promised reforms were coming and would have come during their term, that suddenly got shortened. But the fact, is that it did not come fast within the first 20 plus months of rule - but also a concern, that they all changed after they managed to come into power...


Guan Eng claims trial to allegedly soliciting bribes from Penang undersea tunnel project contractor

Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex August 7, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng arrives at the Kuala Lumpur
Court Complex August 7, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng pleaded not guilty after he was charged this morning with allegedly seeking a bribe to help a company be appointed for the infrastructure works including the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.

The DAP secretary-general, whose lead counsel is Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, was formally accused of soliciting the bribe from one Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli.

The charge sheet alleged that Lim, who is also a former finance minister, asked for 10 per cent of the potential profits obtained by the contractors from the completed project.

He was accused of committing the offence nearby the Gardens Hotel along Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, within the capital, in March 2011, when he held the position of chief minister.

The charge was read out to Lim in Malay, who responded with “not guilty” in Malay when asked for his plea. - Malay Mail, 7/8/2020


Fresh evidence led to acquittal of Lim Guan Eng: DPP

The Penang High Court's acquittal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng shocked the anti-graft agency.
The Penang High Court's acquittal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng shocked the anti-graft agency.

He defends move to drop graft case amid calls for more transparency on basis for decision

Malaysia's deputy public prosecutor (DPP) has defended his decision to drop the corruption case against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, amid calls for more transparency and scrutiny of whether there was political interference in the process.

DPP Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria said in a statement yesterday that the charges against Mr Lim were withdrawn after fresh evidence surfaced during the trial.

Without giving details, Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah said that the evidence had emerged during the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.

"I concluded that as a result of the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses who have testified so far, the evidence supporting the first charge under Section 23 of the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) Act and under Section 165 of the Penal Code has been substantially weakened. This conclusion was arrived in the light of fresh evidence that has arisen during the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses," he said.

"I would not be fulfilling my duties as deputy public prosecutor to let the case continue, knowing full well that the case against both Lim Guan Eng and (businesswoman) Phang Li Koon would not succeed at the end of the prosecution case," he said.

On Monday, the Penang High Court acquitted Mr Lim of two charges - that he used his former position as chief minister of Penang to approve the conversion of land, and that he gained gratification for himself by buying a bungalow below market value.

The prosecution had asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, but the judge ordered a full acquittal instead.

Fuelling the outcry over Mr Lim's acquittal was anti-graft agency MACC's statement on Monday that it was shocked by the decision to drop the case, which it said was made by the Attorney-General's (A-G) office, and not the MACC.

Sources told The Straits Times that the decision does not sit well with the commission as its investigators believe there is evidence of Mr Lim abusing his position.

"What is upsetting is, the new government reinstated a person of integrity like Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull back in MACC, only to have the charges in a high-profile case like this thrown out.

"If there was insufficient evidence, the A-G would not have initiated prosecution and charged them in the first place. This doesn't only reflect on the judicial system, but also on the MACC," a source said.

Mr Shukri's return to the agency this year was lauded because he was made to leave in 2016 by the former Barisan Nasional administration after probing financial mismanagement at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Another source said: "Shukri was so upset and angry when he found out (about the decision) that he went to the AGC's (Attorney-General's Chambers) office to seek clarification. There, he made it clear that he would not hesitate to 'open a file' on anyone who is a 'puppet' controlled by hidden hands."

Mr Lim's acquittal comes after his lawyers filed representations to the AGC for the case to be dropped after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took power in May, arguing that the charges against Mr Lim were politically motivated.

Mr Lim was charged with corruption in 2016, when PH formed the opposition. He is secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party, one of the four member parties of PH.

Ms Phang, who sold the bungalow to Mr Lim, was also acquitted of the corruption charge against her.

Opposition politicians and civil society groups have questioned this "selective non-prosecution", and asked the AGC to give reasons for its decision.

Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki described the decision as a "black mark in the history of New Malaysia". "The move to drop Guan Eng's case without a solid explanation and clear justification by the AGC only highlights that justice is not being served," he said.

MP Tian Chua, who is a vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which is part of PH, yesterday urged the AGC to explain the basis for the acquittal to uphold the promise of transparency given by the PH government.

Some lawyer groups have also called for Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, recently appointed by the PH administration, to resign for not upholding the rule of law.

However, Mr Mohamad Hanafiah said that Mr Thomas had no hand in the decision to withdraw the case, after he recused himself from the matter last month.

He also stressed that the decision to initiate or discontinue any prosecution is a matter within the prerogative and powers of the public prosecutor, and that his decision was arrived at without any influence from any quarters.


How the case unfolded

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

The controversy over the bungalow purchase made by then Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng began after an Umno Member of Parliament alleged in March 2016 that Mr Lim had bought the RM2.8 million (S$931,000) home for much lower than its actual value.

The allegations by Datuk Shabudin Yahaya about the two-storey bungalow in Jalan Pinhorn, which Mr Lim had purchased from businesswoman Phang Li Koon in 2015, set off a chain of events which led to Mr Lim being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

THE CHARGES

MACC officials arrested Mr Lim and Ms Phang on June 29, 2016. Both were charged at the Penang Sessions Court a day later.

Mr Lim, 58, was charged with abusing his position to approve a re-zoning application by a company called Magnificent Emblem to convert agricultural land in Balik Pulau into a residential zone - a move that would have raised the land's value dramatically.

He was alleged to have committed the offence while chairing a Penang state planning committee meeting on July 18, 2014. According to local media reports, Ms Phang had been a director of Magnificent Emblem at the time.

Mr Lim also faced a second charge of using his position to obtain a plot of land and the Jalan Pinhorn bungalow in July 2015 from Ms Phang for RM2.8 million.

The court documents stated that the actual market value of the bungalow was RM4.27 million.

Mr Lim would have faced up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Ms Phang was charged with abetting Mr Lim to obtain the bungalow at an undervalued price. She would have faced up to two years in jail if convicted.

Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr Lim, who was released on bail, was adamant from the start that he was innocent, saying that he would not "submit to such dirty and vicious political plays to destroy my reputation".

THE TRIAL

The trial, which began on March 26 this year, saw 25 witnesses being called in. It was postponed briefly to allow Mr Lim to campaign in Malaysia's May 9 General Election.

After Mr Lim's Pakatan Harapan alliance was elected to power in May, his lawyers filed representations to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) for the charges to be dropped, saying they were politically motivated.

The High Court gave the prosecution until Sept 3 to decide whether to proceed with the corruption charges.

ACQUITTAL

On Sept 3, the AGC withdrew all the charges.

Although the prosecution had requested a dismissal not amounting to an acquittal, High Court judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail acquitted both the accused.

She said the charges could not "be hanging over the heads of the accused indefinitely". - Straits Times, 5/9/2018

Penang High Court acquits Guan Eng, Phang of corruption

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here on Monday granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal on former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over their corruption charges, two years ago.

This followed an application made by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud to the court, based on a representation sent by the defence to the Attorney-General to withdraw the case, on July 6.

Masri had applied for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Lim’s lead counsel, Ramkarpal Singh, and Phang’s lead counsel, Datuk V. Sithambaram, had requested for a full acquittal.

Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, in her judgment, agreed with the counsels that the charges “cannot be hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely.”

She stressed that there must be “finality.”

She said a total of 25 witnesses had been called and the case was last heard in March.

“The court cannot be slow. After six months, the prosecution has not proceeded with the matter. We do not conduct cases on installment. There must be a stop. No commas.

“The charge cannot be left hanging over the head of the accused indefinitely. We cannot be waiting for another six months for the case to proceed.

“I cannot agree with the prosecution’s application because by doing so the court cannot close the case file. That cannot be the case. If we want to proceed, then we should proceed from A to Z.

“So after studying the whole case, and the long duration to get the decision, the court orders both accused to be discharged amounting to an acquittal,” she said.

Earlier, Masri told the court that they had studied the defence’s representation and the prosecution decided to withdraw the case under provisions of Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“This withdrawal is however a discharge not amounting to an acquittal,” he said.

Ramkarpal then argued that the prosecution’s application meant that there would not be a “full stop” to the case, but merely a postponement.

“We can understand that if they can’t get witnesses. However, the prosecution has indicated that they do not wish to proceed with the case at all.

“So, the proper order should be a full acquittal,” he said.

Sithambaram said if the court acceded to the prosecution, then this would mean that the charges had been withdrawn, but three or six months later, they could continue with it.

“This will be a nightmare for the accused. There has to be a finality.

“The justice of this matter is not about the personality involved but the 25 witnesses who were called to testify and cross-examined,” he added.

As soon as the court stood down, 58-year-old Lim, who is currently the Finance Minister, was seen hugging Phang, 46.

He was then congratulated and embraced by his supporters, including DAP state executive councillor, members of parliament and assemblymen who were present.

Also seen in court were Phang’s family members.

Speaking outside the court, Ramkarpal said the court’s order meant that there could not be any further prosecution on the accused.

“We are glad that our representation has been accepted. The fact that it took a long time meant that it had been studied thoroughly.

“We are very satisfied with the decision,” he noted.

Sithambaram said he was grateful that their representations were accepted.

“The learned judge made the right decision in acquitting the accused. This means they can now carry on with their lives,” he added.

The long-awaited trial began on March 26 this year, and was subsequently postponed pending the 14th general election.

It was further postponed when the accused made separate representations for their charges to be dropped.

On June 30, 2016, Lim claimed trial to using his position as a public officer, namely, the then chief minister of Penang, to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng.

He was accused of doing so by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in the southwest district to a company, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He was charged with committing the offence while chairing the State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room, Level 28, Komtar building here, on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 provides an imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

In the second charge, Lim also claimed trial to using his position to obtain for himself a plot of land and a house, located at No 25, Jalan Pinhorn, George Town, from Phang for RM2.8 million, a price which he allegedly knew did not commensurate with the property’s then market value of RM4.27 million.

The offence was allegedly committed at No 25 Jalan Pinhorn, George Town here on Oct 21, 2015.

The charge was under Section 165 of the Penal Code, which provides an imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.

Phang was charged with abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost at the same place and date.

She was charged under Section 109 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 165 of the same law, which provides an imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction. New Straits Times, 3/9/2018








Monday, August 03, 2020

Top Glove - Why Zuraida's Ministry of Housing and Local Government issue Notice - Not the Human Resouces Ministry?

TOP GLOVE - Why did the Ministry of Human Resources(MOHR), being the Ministry responsible for workers and matters concerning occupational health and safety not issue any Notice or take action against Top Glove, but it was the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that issued the 'compliance notice'? What 'compliance notice'? Please explain Minister Zuraida
“The company has since been issued a compound by the Health Ministry and compliance notice by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government,”
Malaysian Human Resource Ministry(MOHR) really should be the Ministry generally responsible for workers and worker safety. But....

Who investigated? Looks likes the Human Resource Department - which usually handles complaints from workers seems to be absent from the inspection and investigation at Top Glove - WHY is that? The the Minister charged with the responsibility for internal security, which is the Home Minister is responsible for the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti Smuggling of Migrants Act. So, did the officers from the MOHR investigate to determine payments of salary/OT, working hours,etc and other worker rights were not violated? Questions ...questions...
In a statement today, the ministry said this was determined through investigations conducted by a combined task force from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 and movement control order (MCO)
# There is still no regulations created under the law, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994(OSHA) that will create LEGAL obligations on employers and owners of workplace to keep the workplace free from RISK of infection from Covid-19. Such a regulation is within the power of the Minister, and he can make such regulations without even going to Parliament. Minister Saravanan has failed to do this until now, months after Malaysia became victim of the Covid-19 Pandemic - WHY? Should we demand for a NEW and better Minister?

# Because of the Minister and MOHR's failings, for enforcement, we still have to depend on general regulations issued by the Ministry of Health that applies everywhere for even workplaces. But, the situation in workplaces are very different from all other places - We need a specific Regulation that covers workplaces - which will also give powers to MOHR officers to conduct inspection, investigation, prosecute wrongdoers, issue NOTICES, etc. Current state of affairs, is that only the Ministry of Health can take action for workplaces > the Notice issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to a factory in Meru is really confusing...it is not a House, and other than Federal Territory Local Governments, the Ministry or the Minister has little or no power - for all other Local Governments, the appointing power and other powers generally lie with the State government - not the Federal Government. Meru is not in a Federal Territory - so what is happening?

# Saravanan, the Minister, should already know that Covid-19 is not yet an occupational disease under the laws that imposes obligations on employers to keep workers safe from Covid-19 and other occupational diseases. Currently, it is just covered under the SOCSO Act, which means that after worker is infected, SOCSO will assist victims, which is good. BUT, what we need is clear legal obligations on employers (and owners of workplaces) to keep workers safe from Covid-19 and any other Occupational Diseases.

# The relevant law, that imposes legal obligations on employers to keep workers safe during work, including from Covid-19 and other occupational diseases is the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994(OSHA 1994) - BUT, this ACT does not even have a clear definition (or interpretation) of what are the recognized occupational disease > was this INTENTIONAL to free employers from the obligation of keeping workers safe from Covid-19, etc at the workplace?

# Under the OSHA 1994, to impose obligations of employers to keep workers free from Covid-19 and other occupational diseases, all that is needed in the 'Interpretation' section, the words that Occupational disease means occupational disease as listed/defined under SOCSO Act and/or other Acts > and this will immediately place on employer(owner of workplace) the legal obligation to do the needed to keep workers free from Covid-19, other infectious disease and other occupational disease.

Will Saravanan do this fast - or do we need to campaign for a NEW Minister of Human Resources?

'No forced labour' at Top Glove?

Well, that is the finding of the MOHR - but then the question that must be raised,was whether the investigation was comprehensive. Yet again, like during the PH rule, the Minister seems to have met the employer and employer associations > why did he not meet with the Trade Unions, that represent workers. For rubber glove, Malaysia has National Union of Employees in Companies Manufacturing Rubber Products (NUECMRP), which is generally responsible for all workers in companies manufacturing rubber products like in Top Glove. Then, there is the Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) - so, why did the Minister of Human Resources meet with these worker representative?

Another problem in Malaysia, is that our labour laws and standards are not as good as the labour rights, standards and requirements in many other countries. In Malaysia today, for example, did you know that the legal limit for overtime work is 104 hours per month, which means workers can 'legally' work overtime of 4 hours per day, over and above the 8 hours of work - so, they can end up working for 12 hours per day. Minus all the meal breaks and other breaks, the worker may be at the workplace for maybe about 13-15 hours every day. If Malaysia, respects workers and worker rights, then  the maximum legal overtime limit per month should be reduced to maybe 60 hours only. There must also be strict requirements, when employers can 'ask' and workers have to work overtime - it must be only for exceptional times. Limits must be placed for maximum daily overtime limits. In fact, the rates best be increased too - 1.5 times wages if the daily OT is 2 hours or less, and 2 times wages if the daily overtime is more than 2 hours.


Well, in Malaysia our overtime limit is 104 hours per month(meaning about 1,248 hours per year)

Worse still, is the fact that Malaysia at present has a draconian overtime limit, as contained in Employment (Limitation Of Overtime Work) Regulations 1980, which stipulates that the limit of overtime work shall be a total of one hundred and four (104) hours in any one month. Note that working on rest days and/or public holidays are not considered overtime. Hence, in Malaysia a worker can end up working 12 hours every working day.  - 49 Groups - Wrong to retain wages,etc to deter worker’s right to leave employer, and reduce overtime limit...

Workers choice when it come to working overtime, working on rest days and working on Public holidays must be restored. Employer can request, but worker can have the choice to refuse any work beyond normal working hours or working days without being discriminated against for their refusal.

NOW, workers FEAR termination, non-renewal of 'short-term contract', loss of promotion/wage increase, or simply 'removed' from the workplace. The right to refusal is lost > Workers simply have become akin 'slaves' - if employer says work, no choice but to work...Is this what we want for Malaysia?

'non-renewal of short-term contract' - The BN government, the PH government and now the PN government did nothing to ABOLISH 'short-term or fixed-term employment contracts', usually for 1 year or less - Malaysian workers lost the RIGHT to regular employment until retirement, which meant that after confirmation after a short period of probation(justly not more than 3 months), workers have employment security, and cannot be terminated simply at the whims and fancies of the employer, for reasons like refusing to work OT. They can only be terminated if they commit a serious employment misconduct or a serious breach of contract, if they RESIGN themselves, or if they are RETRENCHED justly.

'removed from the workplace' - this happens to 'outsource workers' - since Malaysia, since about 2006, allowed the contractor for labour scheme - as such they are now 'not employees' of the workplace, and if the workplace owner does not like them, all they need to do is tell the 'contractor for labour' and that worker is gone replaced by a new worker > No disciplinary procedure or Domestic Inquiry. Another problem is that these 'contractor for labours' do not any jobs of their own - so, worker removed this way are greatly prejudiced.

'Forced Labour' allegations - the Malaysian government really must improve worker rights and standards to conform with international standards - but somehow, even our political parties, places worker issues and rights as a low priority. PH GE manifesto only seem to focus on 'minimum wages' - NOT reducing Overtime Limits, Not restoring employment security of workers by abolition of the 'contractor for labour system',...

Even now, how many of our political parties came out and called for Covid-19 to be made an occupational disease - with employers having the legal obligations to keep workplaces safe so that no worker gets Covid-19 from their workplace?

How many political parties came out demanding the MOHR to come out with legally enforceable Regulations for workplaces and worker accommodations that will protect workers from Covid-19?

It is sad that most politicians are focused on 'party hopping', 'back-door government', Prime Ministerial candidate of the Opposition, etc - what about people's, worker's and other important issues that affect all of us in Malaysia?

We need to choose MPs, ADUNs and political parties that is committed to protecting and improving worker rights - remember most VOTERS are workers.





See related earlier posts:-

Minister to say 'fake news' or 'actions of rivals' when HR Defenders highlight possible rights violations in Top Glove is wrong?

Malaysians work 40 hours a week and earn a decent income for a good life? Malaysia's Top Glove investigated by Britain?



No elements of forced labour found at Top Glove premises, says HR Ministry over US detention order

Datuk Seri M. Saravanan clarified that there are no elements involving forced labour with regards to the detention order enforced on glove manufacturing giant Top Glove Corp Bhd by the US authorities. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri M. Saravanan clarified that there are no elements involving
forced labour with regards to the detention order enforced on glove
manufacturing giant Top Glove Corp Bhd by the US authorities.
— Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — The Human Resources Ministry has clarified that there are no elements involving forced labour with regards to the detention order enforced on glove manufacturing giant Top Glove Corp Bhd by the US authorities.

In a statement today, the ministry said this was determined through investigations conducted by a combined task force from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 and movement control order (MCO) in which the company was found to have breached standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the MCO, but that no violations of forced labour were found.

“The investigation was conducted at Top Glove headquarters in Meru, Klang on July 13. The company was found flouting the rules under the recovery MCO, such as no social distancing between workers at the workplace and crowded accommodation for workers.

“The company has since been issued a compound by the Health Ministry and compliance notice by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government,” the statement read.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has also met Top Glove Corp Bhd and the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association to understand further why two Top Glove subsidiaries, Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd, were issued with the detention order was issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), and subsequently placed on its Withhold Release Order (WRO) list last Thursday.

“The government is committed and will not compromise when it comes to addressing the issue of forced labour in the country.

“(And) since the element of forced labour is also closely related to the issue of accommodation for foreign workers, the ministry has taken into account the enforcement of Minimum Standards Act Employee Housing, Accommodation and Facilities or Act 446 (Amendment) 2019 by the Human Resources Ministry committee which will commence on September 1 this year,” the statement added.

According to the statement, the enforcement of this Act is in line with international standards recommended by Labour Organisation International (ILO).

“The ministry does not want local employers including those in the rubber industry to commit actions that are against Act 446 where employers will be convicted over violations in relation to forced labour,” the statement said.

The Human Resources Ministry also instructed all employers to implement Independent Social Compliance Audit (ISCA) to ensure compliance with the national standards.

The implementation of the ISCA was decided during the Joint Committee Meeting between the home minister and human resources minister last year who agreed on an implementation date of January 1, 2021. - Malay Mail, 21/7/2020


Sunday, August 02, 2020

Malaysiakini Contempt - Court independently decide whether any contempt? Right to 2 appeals must be preserved?

In the Malaysiakini contempt case, now before the Federal Court, there are several  issues of concern, that will impact even future cases.

Some of these concerns are:-

1 - The Court Must Independently Evaluate and Decide Whether a Comment or Statement is contemptuous or not? It does not matter what the applicant or comment says or agrees to, the Court must decide for itself whether it is contemptuous -  even if the parties agree that it is a contempt? Such agreement between parties, may be wrong and may be for some other purposes including an attempt to mitigate - get a lower sentence.

2. - This must be the FIRST STEP - because if the court decides that the comment and/or statement is not contemptuous, OR even not sufficiently contemptuous, for the court to proceed with the contempt hearing, then the court must end the contempt proceedings then and there, without any further waste of time, monies and energy. The court may in its consideration also consider the availability of other existing laws, which could deal with such statements and/or comments, and in Malaysia today, there are other laws which could be used for things said or expressed.

3 -  A contempt proceeding especially of this particular kind of contempt of 'scandalizing the court/judges', should best never be heard by the party/ies who is personally or directly affected by the said comment/statements - then it akin a trial conducted by the victim themselves, not an independent entity, and this goes against the fundamental principle behind the right to a FAIR TRIAL, where an essential pre-requisite is that it is heard by an INDEPENDENT judge/court.

4 -  This particular contempt, being the 'contempt of scandalizing the courts/judges and/or judiciary' is an ancient contempt, that may be relevant during ancient feudal times, when people did not have the right to say/do things that are critical of the King, Rulers, the Kings Judges, officers, etc.

5 - Times have changed, and in the modern democracies, the right to free speech and expression is in fact encouraged, for what the public feels and thinks is important in determining the operation of government, including the judiciary. People's comments, including allegations and suspicions, irrespective of whether they are baseless or even wrong, have led to investigations and even prosecution of wrongdoers. It has also led to policy and legal reforms, as in a democracy unlike a feudal state, the government is of the people and for the people. Public opinions and positions, that change, also do impacts judicial decisions today. Speaking their mind is today encouraged, and people will base their expressions on what they know - many of the comments, subject to the current contempt proceeding, really was based on maybe an incorrect understanding of the courts roles where certain politicians and/or family member had been discharged and/or acquitted. The CJ's clarification, which should have came sooner, which came after the contempt proceedings had commenced, will help correct the wrong public perception/understanding now. A speedy response or clarification are always helpful to battle wrong perceptions - not speedy contempt proceedings, or even other criminal actions.


The court does not have the power to direct or urge the public prosecutor to file or withdraw charges against any party in criminal cases,” said Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat...“The court cannot force or push the prosecution to proceed with a trial on a charge brought in court, if the prosecution has decided to drop or withdraw the charge,” she said.(Malay Mail, 10/7/2020)


5 - It is best, if the court, in its judgment also clarifies what is contempt and why it is a contempt. Can questions raised, which are not statements of fact or even opinions be subject to contempt proceedings? Are questions not simply raising points for people to think about? This is important for public education, about what they can say and how they should say it for it to be not contempt.

6 - Judges are not infallible - they too can make mistakes, or even commit crimes. Suppressing people's comments about judges and courts may have a negative impact. Allegations, which can be true or false, really should never be criminalized. Judges too can sue anyone for defamation, if they believe they were defamed. Criticism of institutions of government will help bring about reforms and improvements.

DENIAL OF THE RIGHT TO 2 APPEALS - a fundamental right to review or correct errors of lower courts

6 - A more important issue, when the Federal Court is the court of first instance. When it is the Federal Court, then the right to 2 appeals is denied. This is a fundamental right in our criminal justice system, that allows the Appellate Courts to determine the correctness of the judgment of lower courts, and correct judicial errors if need be. Likewise, contempt proceedings should best be started at the High Court, or lower courts.

7. A possible exception maybe for contempt arising by reason of non-compliance of the Federal Court order, and maybe contempt committed during Federal court proceedings where the court itself initiates the contempt proceedings. For the later, it could also start at the High Court, could it not > to avoid the alleged victim being placed in the position of judge. Would an alleged victim be able to remain independent?

AMICUS CURIAE(Friend of the Court) submission.

8. For the Malaysiakini contempt case, I, being a lawyer too, send an amicus curiae submission to the Federal Court, and also the AG's chambers(being the Applicant) and other parties in the proceedings. I send it before the hearing, and such submissions usually will be read and considered by the court before it makes its final decision. Sadly, the submissions send by email, did not receive any acknowledgment of receipt - which really is a minimum courteous response from anyone. I may thus share this submission later. PLEASE, JUDGES OF THE FEDERAL COURT, DO CONSIDER MY SUBMISSIONS BEFORE DECIDING ON THE MALAYSIAKINI CONTEMPT CASE.

See earlier related posts:-


Judgement on Malaysiakini's contempt case deferred

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today deferred judgement on whether Malaysiakini and its editor-in chief are guilty of contempt over five readers' comments which appeared in the comments section of an article on the news portal that allegedly scandalised the judiciary.

After hearing submissions in the contempt proceedings, Court of Appeal president Datuk Rohana Yusuf, who chaired a seven-member panel, said the court needs time to deliberate the matter.

"We will inform parties on the date of the decision later," she said before adjourning the proceeding.

The other judges on the bench were chief judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, and Federal Court judges Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Salleh, Datuk P. Nallini, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli.

The contempt bid was initiated by Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri idrus Harun against Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, the company which runs Malaysiakini and its editor-in chief Steven Gan, which he named as the respondents over five readers' comments which the AG contended had undermined the country's judiciary.

Earlier, senior federal counsel S. Narkunavathy, who appeared for the AG, submitted that under Section 114A of the Evidence Act, the news portal had facilitated the publication of the comments.

She said by facilitating the publication of the comments, the respondents were presumed to have published the same.

"This presumption is pursuant to Section 114A," she said.

Narkunavathy also submitted that Malaysiakini had not installed a software system to prevent the publication of offensive comments.

She said the respondents were liable for failing to do so.

On the point of having to prove intention in a contempt case, Narkunavathy said it was unnecessary in the case of publication.

"We are saying that intention is not necessary for publication. They (respondents) provided the platform and they allowed it (the comments to be published)," she said.

She submitted that the ease and availability of access to ventilate grievances through social media has extended the avenue of freedom of speech, and with the extension of this freedom, comes the increase of responsibility.

"(This is) especially for parties which provide the platform in which such freedom is exercised," she said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who represented Malaysiakini and Gan, argued that there was no intentional publication by the respondents.

He submitted that neither Malaysiakini nor Gan was involved in the publishing of the comments on the online news portal or authored the comments.

Malik said Gan was merely the editor-in-chief and does not have control of the comments uploaded by users.

He added that Malaysiakini was unaware of the comments until 12.45pm on June 12 and that the comments were taken down 12 minutes later once it was made aware of them.

This, he said, showed that there was no intentional publication.

He also argued that actual intention to publish the alleged contemptuous comments must be proven to invite contempt.

But in this case, he said merely showing publication does not invite contempt.

Mere facility for posting comments is not enough to attract legal responsibility," he said.

Idrus initiated the contempt proceedings, saying that Malaysiakini and Gan had facilitated the publishing of five readers' comments which undermined the country's judiciary and were embarrassing and offensive.

The comments appeared in the comment section of an article published on the news portal entitled "CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1" on June 9.

He had, in his affidavit, contended that the comments "clearly meant that the judiciary committed wrongdoings, was involved in corruption, does not uphold justice and compromised its integrity."

He said the news portal erred in facilitating the publication of the comments which were "unwarranted and demeaning" attacks on the judiciary.

On June 17, the court gave a green light to institute the proceedings after allowing Idrus' ex-parte leave application on grounds that prima facie for contempt has been established to initiate the proceedings.

Malaysiakini and Gan had subsequently filed a bid to set aside the leave obtained by the AG, but it was rejected by the federal Court on July 2.

If found guilty of contempt, the news portal and Gan could be fined, or the 58-year-old editor could be jailed. - New Straits Times, 13/7/2020







 

Director's monthly income? How 'political appointees' may simply be form of corrupt practice, that must be ended in Malaysia?

How much money could an MP or 'political appointee' get when he/she is appointed a Director of a government owned or government linked company(GLC)? Note, some of peoples' representative and their family/friends could also be 'gifted' appointments as company Directors?

GLCs are not meant to be a training ground, or used as a platform, for political patronage at the expense of taxpayers,

Should all these 'gifts' or appointments be considered corruption or corrupt practices, that ought to be made an offence.

A person familiar with the pay/allowance and benefits that a usual Director gets informed me of this(It will help if others can also help provide relevant information of all this - since it is certainly a matter of public concern, especially when it involves politicians, political parties and the government.

A Director may get roughly, or even much more or less,

Director's Fixed Monthly Allowance - RM10,000
Director's Meeting Allowance = RM3,000 per meeting

[Now, the average number of meetings monthly is about 4.7, and that makes monthly meeting allowance of about RM14,000 - that is RM24,000 monthly, which is higher than the PM's salary?]

So, every month a person appointed as Director, just looking at this would be getting about RM24,000. Now, there may other 'allowances' given to Directors like 'entertainment allowance', transport allowance, etc - We really would not know UNLESS the government discloses this information for all government owned companies, and GLCs - the Malaysian public has the right to know.

Now, if one is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, then it may be even higher.

Besides DIRECTORS, we need to also monitor how much is the CEO and higher management staff being paid. Wonder how much the MAS CEOs have been paid? Salaries/Allowances should be fixed according to law, especially when it comes to government owned, and/or GLCs - better to have a provision for higher bonusses based on annual profits. So, if the company makes no profit  just losses - hence no bonus. Why reward Directors, CEOs and staff if you fail to bring in profits? It is also absurd that some are being paid a salary higher that the salary of a Prime Minister.

WHY? All this payments certainly have a direct impact on PROFITS - and for government owned companies, and GLCs, it means that it is our monies that are being affected.

It is also not uncommon, that the same person, may be Director in many other companies, including subsidiary companies.

QUALIFICATIONS - a Director is basically responsible for everything done(or not done) by the Company, hence he/she best be a person who is familiar with the business of the company - not just a 'seat warmer' Director, who attends meetings, votes as 'instructed' and happily receives all the monies and allowances. Only the OWNERS can overule decision of the majority of the Directors.

GLCs are not meant to be a training ground, or used as a platform, for political patronage at the expense of taxpayers,

Directors need to be qualified persons - who know the legal duty and obligations, who must be held personally responsible for the actions/omissions. They are not there to 'make money for themselves' or to make 'self-serving decisions', are they?  

Recently, the Najib's case relating to SRC came to an end - I wonder WHY none of the Directors of the said companies, or related/connected companies that facilitated such crimes have NOT YET been charged.

Were they simply 'politically appointed' Directors, who simply did as 'instructed' without even knowing that what they did was a crime in Malaysia? That may be a problem when we appoint unqualified persons or easily manipulated persons as Directors.

When a company commits a crime, all the Directors also ought to be charged jointly for the crime - save maybe those Directors who voted against - for after all the decision of Directors is a majority decision.

Then, if the Director, even if he, on record voted against illegal acts, he/she still has the obligation to report to the relevant authorities - Did he/she do this? Failure to do this may also mean he/she is an accomplice to the crime, is it not?

Financial institutions know the responsibility of Directors, and so when they give a company a LOAN, they generally insist on personal guarantees of Directors. So, if the company goes 'bankrupt' and cannot pay, then these Directors who gave personal guarantee will have to pay from their own pocket.

Maybe, for workers, all Directors must also be considered legally personal guarantors to workers for company debts. So, workers will no longer be 'CHEATED' simply because the company has been 'wound-up' or in layman's term, gone bankrupt. If the Directors are responsible to still pay to workers what the now 'bankrupt' company owes them, then not only workers will no longer be cheated BUT also these Directors will be more careful with what a company does or does not do, always concerned about worker's welfare.

Hopefully, now you will understand the significance of what Prime Minister Muhyiddin's large Cabinet, and political appointments as Directors(or Chairman's) of government owned or GLCs. What about the political appointment of persons as heads of government agencies - how much money do these appointees get?
Malaysians want a CLEAN government, with a focus of helping all citizens, especially the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Government sometimes need to appoint Directors, to ensure that all that happens in the company is in accordance with government policy and interest - in such situations, if need be, the person appointed should really be an employee of the relevant Department or Ministry > but this will be part of their job, and, as such, they must never be receiving any additional monies/allowances from the Company directly - this may bring about a 'conflict of interest' when they are already paid as government employees.

For the monitoring of government owned companies and/or GLCs, this role is best played by Parliament. There should be special parliamentary committees appointed that will be responsible for these GLCs and/or government owned companies - with the power to receive complaints. investigate, conduct inquiries and even require regular reporting. If we had this in place, it would have been difficult for even 1MDB, SRC and related companies to break our laws, or allow anyone to use such companies wrongly.

Is it time to END all forms of corruption and corrupt practices - including these 'political appointments'?

Despite raising issues of 'too high pay and allowances' being paid to Directors, CEOs and even some government servants before GE14 - wonder what PH did when they came into power? Did they simply replace the 'beneficiaries' with their own 'political appointees' - We did not have new laws, that sets limits on salaries, allowances paid in Government or GLC companies, did we? We did not amend the law that makes in mandatory for the Auditor General to audit such companies, and submit their report to Parliament - so many reforms just did not happen under the PH. Will PN be different? Well looking at recent developments, I guess it will not happen too...

So, who will the people vote come next GE as their MPs? That is the question that we should all think about now..



See earlier related posts:-

Zahid Hamidi: GLC appointments of MPs to ensure govt policies and ‘aspirations’ carried out

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi congratulated MPs from Umno, MCA, MIC and PAS who had been appointed to head GLCs and other institutions that are owned or linked to the government. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi congratulated MPs from Umno, MCA, MIC and PAS who had been appointed to head GLCs and other institutions that are owned or linked to the government. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today posted a congratulatory message to politicians who were made heads of government-linked companies (GLCs) recently, adding that their appointments were to ensure that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s policies and “aspirations” were implemented.

Taking to his Facebook page this evening, Zahid congratulated MPs from Umno, MCA, MIC and PAS who had been appointed to head GLCs and other institutions that are owned or linked to the government.

“Indeed, in the composition of the board of directors of companies, there are appointees who are politically appointed, for the purpose of implementing the policies and aspirations of the ruling party, but I am confident that the senior management members, who are the chief executives and managing directors, were still appointed from among professionals based on merit, qualifications, experience as well as suitability with their field of work,” he wrote.

“It was the previous tradition of the Barisan Nasional government that drove the economy and developed the people’s socioeconomy, through the involvement of GLCs and GLICs (government-linked investment companies) in many strategic projects and businesses, especially infrastructure development,” he added.

Zahid also urged all the appointees of the Muafakat Nasional pact between Umno and PAS to be trustworthy and dedicated in their responsibilities.

In April, PAS secretary-general and de facto Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying all of his party’s MPs who do not presently hold positions in government will be made heads of GLCs by the PN-led government.

“PAS has 18 MPs, eight are ministers and deputy ministers, one has been made the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East.

“This leaves nine more MPs. Alhamdulillah, I understand all government MPs will be given the responsibility to manage GLCs.

“This is because all of them are qualified. They are MPs,” he was quoted as saying to journalists at Kompleks Kota Darulnaim in Kota Baru.

Ironically, later that same month, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin issued a stern reminder to his PN colleagues, that it is not a government mandated by the people, as he criticised the use of “political rewards” to keep the frail coalition intact.

In a sharply worded statement levelled against allies Bersatu, Khaled said PN remains devoid of legitimacy, and that it could only garner public support through good governance and accountability.

Previously in March, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council called upon the PN administration to stop looking into political appointments and focus on the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a joint statement, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government’s recent action to sack appointees from government entities like Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Federal Territories Resident Representative Council (MPP) and National Welfare Foundation (YKN), among others are inappropriate. - Malay Mail, 27/5/2020


'MPs are not necessarily qualified to lead GLCs'

KUALA LUMPUR: Being an elected representative should not be the prerequisite for heading a government-linked-company (GLC).

Vice-president of the Centre for A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) Datuk Simon Lim Seng Chai said it is unsurprising that the proposal for all government backbenchers to be appointed as heads of GLCs is unpopular with members of the civil society.

With a public health crisis at hand, and a looming economic recession to follow, the proposal by Pas’ secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan is not only untimely but goes against good corporate governance, he said.

He added that the impact of Covid-19 has increased unemployment and retrenchment, as businesses are forced to reduce operating costs to survive. In a time of crisis, the calibre of top corporate leaders will be telling in navigating companies out of the storm.

“This is not a time to appease political supporters. Positions in GLCs, whether at board level or as top executives, should be attained on merit,” he said in a statement, today.

Lim said if a particular Member of Parliament has the necessary knowledge, expertise or qualification, perhaps it is justifiable.

However he said those appointed to head GLCs must be the best that the nation can offer, if they are to chart their recovery post-Covid-19.

Lim said competency is key, as corporations face a monumental task with the world anticipating a recession post Covid-19.

“Let us be clear – being on the right side of the political divide is not, and should not, be a criterion to head a GLC. GLCs are not meant to be a training ground, or used as a platform, for political patronage at the expense of taxpayers,” he said.

Lim added that the move by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to appoint technocrats such as Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to Cabinet indicates his desire to have the best talent serve the country, and also points to the dearth of expertise available among backbenchers.

“We strongly urge the Prime Minister to continue on the path of appointing the best talent available to do the job. And he must look beyond backbenchers,” he said.

Lim also questioned whether the political appointments are a necessity, in terms of corporate governance, business efficacy or business strategy, as well as how they would benefit a company and its shareholders.

“With an economic recession on the horizon, we should be looking at optimising resources by shrinking the top to maintain job opportunities for the lower income group, instead of enlarging the board of directors and laying off the M40 and B40.

“The B40 and M40 were the top priority when the Prime Minister announced the economic stimulus packages, and we hope that he continues on this track, he added.

Lim said Pakatan Harapan had reneged on its election pledge on political appointees to GLCs, though they have largely avoided mass appointment of MPs.

The Perikatan Nasional government can do better by upholding national interest over political interest, he added. - New Straits Times, 17/4/2020