MACC Urges Government to Stop Appointing Politicians to Helm GLCs

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Politicians heading GLCs fall well below ethical standards expected of good corporate leaders, says chairman of Anti-Corruption Advisory Board.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) advisory board urges the government against appointing politicians to helm government-linked companies (GLCs), amid the crisis in Felda Global Ventures (FGV).

The board reasoned that most politicians bring along their political habits to the business they are managing, which it said results in unscrupulous practices when they run the business.

The Malay Mail Online reported that chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim said in a statement today: “The Advisory Board wishes to express in the strongest possible terms its concern about the government’s long-held practice of appointing party politicians as chairmen of GLCs.

“In every instance, they have fallen well below the ethical standards we have come to expect from those in positions of trust,” Tunku Aziz said.

He added that despite there being some upright politicians, most of them do not have the discipline of being a good corporate leader, and as such, Putrajaya should help curb the practice to avoid further corruption.

Regarding the FGV case, the board praised the MACC for its swift investigation as it was a high-profile case.

Tunku Aziz also said that as the case is of “immense public interest”, the concerns of corruption in FGV have to immediately be addressed.

FGV president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad and three other FGV officials have been put on indefinite leave this week pending internal scrutiny into alleged irregularities over the delayed payment owed to a subsidiary, Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd, and Afghan firm Safitex.

The three other suspended officials were FGV chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, FGV Trading chief executive officer Ahmad Salman Omar, and Delima Oil Products senior general manager Kamarzaman Abd Karim.

Back in February, Tunku Aziz had made the same call to the government to not appoint politicians to run GLCs in order to keep graft in check.

The New Straits Times reported that in an interview with Bernama, Tunku Aziz said: “Many appointments are made for political reasons. If you are appointed to a position with unanimous power, there are decisions you have to make on a daily basis, weekly, monthly and whatever.

“And in making these decisions, there will be some demands made on you because of your connections, your relatives, your friends and also your cronies.”

Tunku Aziz said the trend of abusing power because of conflict of interest has been happening for a long time and may be stopped if the appointment for a top post in a GLC was conducted with “proper selection and screening.”

He said there were always people out there who wanted special treatment, to have the advantage over their competitors.

“They don’t care how it is done (as long as they get the job)… This is where corruption starts.”

Tunku Aziz said that proper recruitment procedures and techniques could help achieve transparency and accountability, which are essential for top management.

“We can make corruption unprofitable business by making it more difficult to put your hand in the till.”

“Ministers cannot sign or award contracts. But directors in some departments can do it. This is where abuse of power takes place,” he said.

“If you have no power, you cannot abuse it. Civil servants have a lot more power than their political masters and ministers (in awarding contracts),” he said.

Tunku Aziz noted that the MACC was now catching a lot more “big fish” than prior to Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad taking over as the new head in July last year.

He added that MACC was a dedicated highly professional team focusing on the root causes of corruption while catching the crooks.

Indeed, since the appointment of its no-nonsense head, MACC has been in the news for its aggressive approach against those involved in graft and abuse of power.

Every week, we read of MACC’s robust operations. Its target has ranged from low-level government servants to high-ranking officials, prominent corporate players, and politicians. Titled people have not been spared.

People are sitting up and taking notice. Many believe that the aggressive action taken by MACC has been due to its new chief.

From what was once viewed as a lame-duck organisation, MACC has transformed into a fearsome law enforcement agency of the nation that brings hope to the people of a much yearned for cleaner society.