No political appointments, Anwar’s govt told

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Anti-graft activists are calling on the government to appoint qualified people to helm government-linked corporations (GLCs) and agencies instead of political appointees.

They said the cabinet’s decision to terminate political appointees must be abided by all ministers.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said if Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s intention is to stop political appointments to GLCs, government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and statutory bodies, then he has to declare it clearly and direct his own cabinet ministers to stop this practice.

“We hope that the termination of previous appointees was not just a replacement exercise to appoint appointees from the parties that are part of this unity government,” he said.

On Wednesday, Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali said Putrajaya will terminate the contracts of politically appointed chairs and directors of GLCs and statutory bodies.

However, a day later, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported as saying that Kelantan Umno chief Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub was to be reappointed to chair Felcra Bhd.

Fann said GLCs, GLICs and statutory bodies are established to invest and protect public wealth and only the most qualified people should be appointed.

“It is not a reward system for political loyalists.

Hasnoor Hussain/TMI

“If Ahmad Jazlan’s appointment was done against Anwar’s policy of ending such practices, then he must reverse it.”

He also added that for many of these bodies, there are already legislated commissions or groups that oversee the appointments, and they should be allowed to do their job without political interference.

Former Universiti Malaya political economy professor Edmund Terence Gomez said Zahid had undermined the prime minister by making a unilateral decision on appointing Jazlan as Felcra chairman.

“The prime minister has to step in to put a stop to this to ensure that the decision by cabinet is abided by all ministers.

“It cannot be abused by certain ministers, even the Umno president or deputy prime minister.

“Because it can be used to serve their political interests.”

He said the cabinet made a decision that political appointees in GLCs under the Finance Ministry (MOF) were to be removed.

“So, we have to look at GLCs that fall under the MOF, and Felcra is one of them.

“Felcra has always been a very important institution for Umno leaders. What Zahid is doing should be criticised.”

He said that looking at the controversies within Felcra, this was an institution that has to be handled with care.

“Zahid’s attempt to undermine the cabinet should raise a red flag that must be handled with caution.

“Whoever controls Felcra will ultimately have control over resources to channel them to constituencies to develop their political base.

“This was how it was abused in the past, which led to corruption.” – TMI