Abu Kassim: Active Politicians Have No Business Being in GLCs

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Despite several active politicians recently appointed to head government-linked companies (GLCs), Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed said he prefers a leadership in GLCs that is free from politics.

According to the director-general at the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption in the Prime Minister’s Department, under the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023 it is stated that active politicians should not be appointed as chairman of GLCs.

“It was the principle at the time, that we will not allow any active politicians. Yes, it was implemented quite effectively,” he told a forum today, referring to the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

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“When the government changed, a lot of politicians have been appointed for position of GLCs. But I still believe that they should appoint a person which has high integrity,” he added, referring to Putrajaya.

Abu Kassim was speaking at the 2nd Malaysia Anti-Corruption Forum titled ‘Restoring Trust and Building a Culture of Integrity’ organised by the International Strategy Institute.

Expanding on his views, he said for one to be appointed as a GLC chairman, one must be vetted thoroughly and hold integrity in every part of their lives.

He added that from his discussions with stakeholders, opportunities should be given to professionals as well.

“So, the appointment of chairman should also include professional background of the person and for that purpose, create some leeway for professionals to be appointed [as chairman in GLCs].

“It is most important that they must be vetted and make sure that they hold high integrity — it is very crucial — regardless of whether they are politicians or not, otherwise they will ruin the whole organisation,” he said.

Among others, active politicians who were appointed under the Perikatan Nasional government as GLC chairmen included Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) Tan Sri Noh Omar (Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd), Datuk Chong Sin Woon (Port Klang Authority) and Che Alias Hamid (Kemaman Port Authority, Terengganu).

While declining to comment on current policies of the present government, Abu Kassim said there is a worry.

“There are cases where non-active politicians are doing very well. [But] I prefer if we can have leadership in GLC that is truly independent from politics,” he said.

When met later by reporters Abu Kassim agreed that senior government officers should be part of GLCs.

“[They are] the right person, right quality and right education. Because at the end of the day everything is about the person.

“It’s not about where they came from, if the person has high integrity, wherever you put them they will perform to what people expect [them to be],” he added.

The NACP is a five-year plan introduced under the previous Pakatan Harapan government in 2019.

However, the Harapan government collapsed in late February after Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took his party out from the coalition and was joined by PKR defectors.

In May, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah reportedly urged the PN government to continue with the implementation of the NACP citing necessity to champion the aspiration where the country’s development would not be eroded by corruption, misappropriation and abuse of power. – MMO