Instead of sitting on the boards of GLCs, elected representatives should take on the role of members of advisory or oversight panels in the GLCs, says WH Cheng.
The big fuss over Penang GLC directorships shows that Pakatan is not practising what it preaches on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.
The Pakatan Harapan government in Penang was recently embroiled in a controversy over the sacking of two PKR assembly members from the boards of state government-linked-companies, InvestPenang and Penang Hill Corporation (PHC).
The termination of the services of Ong Chin Wen (Bukit Tengah) and Cheah Kah Peng (Kebun Bunga) was announced by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in retaliation for their decision not to vote against an Umno motion to halt land reclamation projects in Penang.
PKR, however, defended its two state assembly members, saying its elected representatives are allowed to vote according to their conscience and the people’s interests.
To add salt to the wound, the DAP-led state government appointed Seremban MP Anthony Loke to the board of PHC to replace Cheah.
The state government has reasoned that Loke’s appointment was based on his capacity as the party’s shadow minister for tourism and culture at the federal level while PKR leaders have argued that Loke was unfit for the position because he is not a Penangite.
Politicians and GLC
First of all, why should the Penang state government appoint politicians to sit in the board of directors of state GLCs?
Do these politicians really serve well and contribute their knowledge and expertise to the GLC concerned? I don’t subscribe to claims that these politicians could help the GLCs.
Why should the directorship of GLCs be a political appointment? These positions should be filled by those who are really qualified so that they can motivate these GLCs towards quality service and excellence.
If the GLC boards are filled with political appointees just to satisfy the desire of political parties to gain support, it would defeat the purpose as some of these politicians may be merely sitting there getting ‘gaji buta’ and contributing little.
Furthermore, such appointments may also be open to abuse of power and corruption if they are not checked or if controls are lacking.
So, where is Pakatan Harapan’s pledge for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT) which they have been fighting for all this while?
Such political appointments are certainly a Barisan Nasional legacy, and we wonder why Pakatan should continue with the practice.
Okay, it may be a coincidence that Loke happens to be the DAP’s shadow minister for tourism and culture and might be able to help and advise the Penang state government on federal policies related to state tourism. But what about other politicians who are now sitting on the boards of state GLCs? Do they really contribute to the GLCs they are attached to?
As far as we know, these political appointees are in the GLCs just because of their affiliation with the PKR, the DAP or Amanah. The same goes for their counterparts in the Selangor state government.
Advisory or oversight panels for GLCs
To be fair to the people who elected them, these elected representatives, whether state assembly members or members of parliament, should not hold any positions in business- and profit-oriented GLCs.
The reason is that elected representatives are chosen by the people and they should serve the people’s interests by becoming the eyes and ears of the public.
Instead of sitting on the boards of GLCs, elected representatives should take on the role of members of advisory or oversight panels in the GLCs to ensure these state-owned entities discharge their roles and responsibilities in accordance with the people’s will and expectations.
This is the real kind of CAT that the Pakatan Harapan state governments should aspire to achieve instead of continuing the BN legacy of awarding supporters GLC directorships.
If left unchecked, such appointments can certainly open the door to abuse of power and corruption. We have witnessed massive financial losses not only in federal departments, agencies and GLCs but also in government offices, agencies and state GLCs of BN-controlled states.
Therefore, if Pakatan Harapan wants to demonstrate to the people the competency, accountability and transparency in its governance, then start the ball rolling in a different way instead of doing it the BN way.
If you appoint politicians to the boards of GLCs, it will be politicised. And if you decide to fire these directors, it will again be politicised. Does this kind of politics benefit our people?
None at all.