Some Political Appointments at Government-Linked Companies to be Reviewed: Malaysia PM Anwar

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There will be a review of the political appointment of several people at government-linked companies (GLCs), Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday (Apr 10).

“We will review again on several appointments … those who have yet to receive their appointment letters,” Mr Anwar was quoted as saying by The Star. 

The prime minister added that he would be meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to discuss the matter.

Former Baling Member of Parliament (MP) Abdul Azeez Rahim was reportedly mentioned by Mr Anwar as a GLC head whose appointment would be reviewed. 

Mr Abdul Azeez was appointed as the Kedah Regional Development Authority (KEDA) chairman on Apr 5. 

Mr Anwar on Monday reportedly said that those who have been appointed as heads of government-linked companies were qualified for the role and are required to follow stricter rules. 

“The (political) appointments are for government-linked companies, not publicly-listed companies. Those appointed have the suitable qualifications.

“Unlike before, these appointments are based on their qualifications and it comes with a set of rules. For example, they must (carry out) their responsibilities well, they must not overspend and allowances are given based on their qualifications,” he said, according to The Star. 

In recent days, Ahmad Zahid – who is also the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president – has come out to defend the public sector appointments of senior UMNO officials.

He stressed that only those with the right skills were picked for the roles, including the appointment of UMNO secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) chairman. 

According to Free Malaysia Today (FMT), Ahmad Zahid said on Mar 14 that all political appointments to the government-linked companies were subject to scrutiny by the unity government’s secretariat. The secretariat is led by Mr Asyraf.

Mr Asyraf’s appointment at MARA was slammed in March by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih). The group had also criticised the appointment of Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik as MyCreative Ventures’ chairman.

FMT reported that Bersih chief Thomas Fann had called for a clear framework to be established when it came to appointing individuals in government-linked companies, even if it involved politicians who were not elected representatives.

According to the Malay Mail, over 230 political appointments were made to government-linked companies from Aug 2021 to Sep 2022 under the Ismail Sabri administration. Of these, 119 appointments were new while the remaining 115 were retained from the previous government led by Muhyiddin Yassin.

In December last year, Malay Mail reported that Mr Anwar’s government had sacked all chairmen and board members of government-linked companies, statutory bodies and state-investment funds who were politically appointed to their roles. 

The move was seen as part of the Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election campaign promise to dismantle political patronage. Mr Anwar is also the PH chairman. 

However, Ahmad Zahid’s move to reward his allies with appointments to several government agencies under his Rural and Regional Development Ministry runs counter to the election promises made by PH. 

“The problem with UMNO is that it believes it is business as usual even as a minority partner (in government) and Anwar’s challenge is to make sure that he draws the line when it comes to government-linked companies,” a PH politician told CNA previously. 

According to the Malay Mail, directorship and chairmanship posts were often used to buy and reward loyalty, a culture long nurtured under Barisan Nasional (BN) rule. UMNO is a component party of BN. 

Source: Channel News Asia