What’s going on with Malaysia’s government-linked companies?

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Prof Terence Gomez

The findings put forward by a prominent think tank must be put up for public discourse so that there is greater accountability, writes JD Lovrenciear.

Think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and its team of researchers headed by Prof Terence Gomez have presented their ‘stage one’ findings on how the government is fast restructuring the nation’s wealth.

Serious questions have arisen from the findings, in some ways reminiscent of what happened in the old regime, showing how the wealth of the nation has been placed under the power and control of certain individuals.

While several media have dutifully published the content of the findings, presented by Prof Gomez, certain political leaders have been quick to dismiss or water them down. Some netizens are even shafting the intellectual, painstaking work of the researchers into the gutters of racism.

As responsible citizens concerned about the future progress and sound democratic development of the nation, we must sit up, come to the table and hold further talks on such eye-opening research findings.

We are talking about how government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies, which command huge chunks of the nation’s wealth, are being restructured and regrouped. The appointments of individuals to head or sit on the boards of these organisations have also come under scrutiny.

So public discourse and the provision of transparent, accountable explanations are essential. We need to examine and smoke out any ill-intent to entrench political patronage. We need to guarantee that these restructured entities with vast power vested in a few individuals do not lead to the creation of powerful oligarchs as has happened in certain other countries.

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To merely dismiss the research data and state that the cabinet works as a team in these matters is not enough if we still want to keep the spirit of the Pakatan Harapan 2018 general election manifesto alive.

We need to allow professionals, economists and credible third parties to analyse the results and provide explanations. This is especially crucial if we are serious about people’s participation in the democratic process in matters that concern the nation’s wealth.

In a climate where the ‘trust deficit’ in our politicians is fast widening, we need open discourse at all levels that would involve financial and economic experts from both the public and private sectors.

Slamming the Ideas researchers has no place in a nation that was saved with the ouster of a six-decades-old regime at the 2018 general election.

Even Dr Mahathir Mahathir admitted that the government-linked companies and related institutions have become a “monster” at the hands of the old government. The last thing that citizens should face is yet another monster of a different hue.

The Pakatan Harapan government therefore has a moral duty to facilitate and allow space for public discourse, debate and verification of what is going on in the corridors of power.

The wealth of the nation is created by hard-working ordinary people, not by some genie or Ponzi venture. Every sen at the disposal of these huge government-linked firm is from the sweat and sacrifice of ordinary people. So the people have every right, a moral obligation even, to examine and endorse what has been done – or to hold ministers accountable.

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The nation’s wealth nestled in these organisations or institutions should be restructured to serve the nation’s resilient development – and not to provide political resources for those in power or to land into the greedy hands of oligarchs someday.

All institutions of high regard and leaders of civil society including experts must pay attention to the Ideas research findings.

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Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
17 Nov 2019 11.54am

Multiple Directorships may be source of high income for Directors as some companies pay Multiple Fees i.e. Membership of Board and for each of the Committees and ‘SAJV’s. Also paid are high Meeting Allowances. Also there are many perks including ‘Attendance of Training’ requirement especially when they are in foreign countries which may be perceived as ‘fully paid holidays’ and shopping trips for the family. It may be reasonably computed that in some cases the total annual such payments may be a few millions of RM annually.
it may be doubtful if some Directors can discharge their duties as expected towards the Companies in which they may hold Directorships or able to contribute their expertise
MAY SUBSTANTIALLY APPLY TO GLCs/GLICs.

IT.Scheiss
11 Nov 2019 4.06am

Contd /-

Do you think that the GLCs and GLICs will be properly run under Anwar as PM, if he does indeed eventually becomes PM as promised by Mahathir, since Anwar appears to be more committed to honouring the Pakatan manifesto and election promises than Mahathir?

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
17 Nov 2019 11.55am
Reply to  IT.Scheiss

high hopes!!!

IT.Scheiss
11 Nov 2019 4.01am

Contd /-

So OK! You have been criticising how GLCs and GLICs are being run but I’d like to know your views on how they should be run to benefit the country and especially lower income Bumiputeras or Malaysians in general.

Are you in favour of old Labour-era nationalisation, Soviet or China-style state ownership, a more transparent neo-liberal Thatcher and Reagan style privatisation or what?

Not that the current government or former BN governments would listen but what are your proposals anyway?

Also, will the majority of the vote base, especially the largely Bumiputera heartlands accept them, as the working class voters in the UK’s industrial heartlands did or old Labour policies, given their ideological orientation?

IT.Scheiss
11 Nov 2019 3.46am

I’ve downloaded and read your 16 page IDEAS report, filename – GLC_Report_2019_V4.pdf from the IDEAS website and yes, looks like it’s ‘same old, same old’ under Mahathir today, as was under BN – especially during Mahathir’s first 22 years as PM.

In your book – Minister of Finance Inc, and your Sir John Monash lecture in 2017, you were surprised at there being hardly any political appointees heading GLCs from 2013 till 2017 and instead professional managers, and this was during the premiership of Najib.

The current Mahathir administration is doing the globalist, neo-liberal thing by privatising GLCs, albeit to politically connected individuals in Malaysia’s case.

– / Contd

ambigapathi samarasan
ambigapathi samarasan
10 Nov 2019 9.43am

The GLC were formed to help the malays get jobs as there not enough jobs left in the Govt department.Majority worked thinking that they were working for the Govt and not worried about profit.(Some of) The malays cannot survive in the private sector due to work pressure and discipline issues

Nair
Nair
10 Nov 2019 4.34am

GLC & GLIC are just a government tool to divert & adsorb any public money lost.
It becomes worst when managed and run by Politicians or Politically connected person.
Half a century has passed and almost 90% of GLC or GLIC has nothing to proof as achievement in using Public money.
Even Petronas will soon die when there is no more Oil to drill.
Now Pakatan is simply continuing doing the same like what BN has been doing for the last 50 years. You can give it another 50 years & its the same old sicking story of bailing out / ran into loss due to Corrupted Politicians sitting on it screwing public fund and this nation.

Best example is MAS, FGV and Tabung Haji!!!!!