Ismail Sabri Says Deputy Didn’t Abuse Position in Pharmaniaga Issue

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Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today said his deputy did not need to get a letter of support to have his son appointed to the Pharmaniaga Bhd board of directors.

Ismail said his deputy Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz could have just appointed his son Ikmal Hazlan to the board, but he chose not to abuse his position.

“If he had abused his power, he would have got his son on the Pharmaniaga board instead of coming to me.

Afif Abd Halim

“A lot of people claimed that he misused his power but if he had done so, he would have gotten his son into the Pharmaniaga’s board already,” said Ismail during his Slim by-election campaign trail today.

A letter addressed to Ismail dated June 5 has been doing the rounds on social media. It contained a handwritten note by him where he minuted to the chairman of the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) his nod of Hazlan.

“As usual, if someone comes to asking for support, I will give them my support without hesitation,” said Ismail.

He said although he gave his support, it doesn’t mean the person is given the seat, adding that Hazlan is not on Pharmaniaga’s board.

“Yes, I did give my support. He (Hazlan) is a businessperson, so his experience can be useful. Politically, he is also an Umno Youth exco member,” Ismail said.

However, when asked if this could raise the issue of nepotism given that Hazlan is the son of his deputy, Ismail agreed this was a matter of concern.

According to the senior minister, this was why he stopped short at only minuting his support without following through with Hazlan’s appointment.

Bernama

“Yes (I agree this could be nepotism). This was why I did not appoint him,” he said.

It is learned that the pharmaceutical company had several vacancies on its board of directors following the recent retirement of three members, prior to the company’s annual general meeting on July 20.

The company had later appointed three new members, as per its announcement to Bursa Malaysia on Aug 3. They are Azhar Ahmad, Najmil Faiz Mohamed Aris, and Zulkifli Jafar.

Pharmaniaga’s majority shareholder is Boustead Holdings Berhad. The LTAT, in turn, holds a majority stake in Boustead and a smaller stake in Pharmaniaga.

According to a LinkedIn profile that purportedly belongs to Hazlan, his work experience includes being the managing director of a car dealership, and the chairperson of the Malaysia Economic and Social Committee in the Malaysia Youth Parliament.

He is also listed as the executive director of a capital company and managing director of another car dealership business that specialises in luxury vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) has condemned the issuance of the support letter.

Its founding director Cynthia Gabriel said that such a move was an abuse of power and called on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to take stern action.

“If this is legit, the Perikatan Nasional government and especially the prime minister has a lot to answer for.

“Firstly, this is a clear abuse of power by the deputy minister. Issuing support letters is very unwelcomed if the prime minister’s pledges to cut corruption are to be taken seriously.

“It defeats competition and denies those with no political connections a chance to succeed and shine.

“Promoting nepotism is the most dangerous enabler to corruption. Muhyiddin must take stern action immediately,” Cynthia was quoted as saying.