With some 10 people related to Pakatan Harapan leaders named to government agencies and companies, activists said the new government is looking like the defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) which was synonymous with cronyism in its 61-year rule of Malaysia.
And this worrying trend of appointing political party and family members to government agencies and government-linked companies (GLCs) is coming just after eight months in federal power, activists said.
The new government must be transparent in these appointments as people are already talking about their political aspects, said the executive director of Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre), Cynthia Gabriel.
“We have been observing the new government for the past eight months and this trend of political appointments is not good,” she told The Malaysian Insight.
“What are the qualifications of these new appointees? They must be open about that.
“The government must address the people’s perception on these appointments. It does not look very different from what BN had been doing,” she said.
The recent appointment of Junaidah Kiting as the new chairman of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) is the latest to raise concerns as she is the wife of the prime minister’s political secretary.
At the same time, Nurul Iman Dzulkefly, who was appointed to the AIM board, is the daughter of Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Junaidah dismissed the criticism of cronyism following her appointment to the post, saying that it was AIM’s top management which appointed her.
AIM is a microfinance agency established to develop female entrepreneurs.
Cynthia said the issue is the lack of transparency in these appointments.
“They need to be more transparent. The people do not know the process of changes taking place.”
Apart from the AIM appointments, the naming of two Bersatu division leaders to the board of directors of Yayasan Pelajaran Johor has also raised eyebrows.
They were originally listed in the foundation’s website with their political posts, but this was later deleted following social media criticism.
Several appointments to agencies under the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry have also raised concerns.
Its minister, Salahuddin Ayub, who is also the Amanah deputy president, recently defended appointing Mengkudu assemblyman Phahrolrazi Mohd Zawawi as chairman of National Farmers’ Organisation (Nafas).
Of the five Nafas board of directors appointed by the minister, four are from PH parties.
Other appointees included the Amanah deputy youth chief Faiz Fadzil to head the Malaysian Board of Fishery Development (LKIM) and party supreme council member Mazlan Aliman to head the Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP).
Earlier this month, Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Harun, who is also Bersatu Wanita chief, appointed her party’s supreme council member and the party’s lawyer to head government agencies under her ministry.
For activist Hishamuddin Rais, the government must not only do the right thing but also be seen as doing the right thing.
“It is true those appointed have the necessary requirements, but their appointments should now raise the issue of perception, cronyism and nepotism.”
He added that the people were watching every move which PH makes.
“The people’s perception of PH is getting dimmer.
“They are questioning PH’s moves and are wondering if they are following BN’s footsteps,” he said.
Activist Badaruddin Ismail said the issue becomes murkier when the appointments are to agencies which are cash rich.
“If the appointments are to bodies not involved in profits and losses, it is not an issue. But when it also involved finances, we need to question the appointments.
“The people are losing trust in the PH government. If this continues, it is possible the voters will punish PH in the next general election.” – TMI