Amid cronyism claims, a group of the country’s civil societies monitoring the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) today said there will be no forgiveness for the new administration if it fails to reform government-linked companies (GLCs) as promised.
National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said while it is understood that certain pledges would take some time to be executed, she said reforming GLCs should not be one of them.
“I know that there are some things in the manifesto that may be difficult to achieve in a short time and we can forgive them for delaying some of these things. But this is not one of them.
“The reform is easy to do and can be immediately done. We will be very unforgiving of PH where this is concerned.
“We will not forgive a breach of this item in their manifesto because there is no reason they cannot comply with this,” said Ambiga during a press conference on reforming GLCs for better governance.
The umbrella group, which consists of nine civil groups calling itself the GLC Reform Cluster, urged the government to form an independent task force to deal with the complex issues of GLCs.
Among the NGOs involved in pushing forward the cause to reform GLCs include Hakam, think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), retired senior civil servants G25, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), and Gabungan Pembebasan Akademik.
“The task force we are asking for is something minimal if they do not do it, I would like an explanation from PH on why they cannot fulfil this simple request we make,” Ambiga said.
She said the work of civil societies has only just begun since the new government took over from Barisan Nasional (BN) following the last May 9 election.
“Many thought our work is done, but it has just begun. We cannot put our feet up and do nothing,” she said.
Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez, a senior fellow at Ideas, said the federal government has been responsive to calls for GLC reform.
“The government has responded, and we have had discussions. It is not that they have not responded at all. They have listened.
“Our aim is to help and work with the government and we will go all out to bring about the reform. The task force is a highly qualified task force,” he said.
“GLCs are a complex issue and it is important to educate the people on GLCs,” he added.
PH promised in its GE14 manifesto to depart from the culture practised by BN by doing away with political appointments for GLCs and similar agencies.
However, PH has been recently criticised over the appointment of several family members, associates and party members to senior positions in GLCs.
Earlier this week, a former Johor DAP leader accused the federal government of cronyism in the appointment of the Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) chair and board member.
But the AIM chair Datuk Junaidah Kiting, who is married to the prime minister’s political secretary Abu Bakar Yahya, and AIM board member Nurul Iman Dzulkefly, daughter of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, claim their appointments were based on merit.
Gomez said the reasons given on the recent political appointments in statutory bodies were unacceptable as all such entities fall under GLCs.
“When they say GLCs, it would mean everything – statutory bodies, foundations, trustees, special purpose vehicles,” said Gomez, who added that it is not a viable explanation to say that the manifesto was only applicable to GLCs and not its related entities.
“Family members are also being appointed, not just party members this is not acceptable too.
“This is the point we are making. When we look at recent appointments and they are being called out, they are justifying it and defending the appointment. We cannot allow this to happen because we have seen this in the past.
“That is why they themselves have put it in the manifesto ‘we’re going to stop it’, so why are they doing it?
“They have raised too many red flags. and this has reinforced our points why we need to institute these reforms properly,” Gomez said.