Frontliners risk their lives, politicians play their games - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Malaysiakini : “People may have their own
views on how GLCs should operate. We respect their right to those views.
But in all fairness, we should be evaluated based only on what we say
in our Buku Harapan.”– Former deputy rural development minister R Sivarasa
| The kerfuffle over the appointment of Perikatan Nasional (PN)
political operatives to government-linked companies (GLCs) is the kind
of false narrative that comes when the previous Pakatan Harapan
government, now the opposition, demonstrated that the Buku Harapan was
not worth the paper it was printed on. While frontliners risk
their lives, this backdoor government is engaging in the same kind of
political shenanigans that Harapan was doing when they were in power and
the previous BN regime before that.
activists and NGOs were pushing the government to institute reforms,
they were mocked and sidelined by the very same political operatives who
relied on them to get their message of “ubah” (change) to a certain section of the rakyat.
is pretty rich when Amanah central committee member Faiz Fadzil says:
“The country will not advance if PN does not implement institutional
reforms, let alone making political appointments that are not the
people’s choice since the political parties in PN are the ones that lost
the last general election.”
First off, Harapan did not show any
political will to implement institutional reforms, especially when it
came to appointments that it deemed necessary for Bersatu to connect
with its supposed base.
Read Terrence Gomez's piece
“How Muhyiddin consolidates power through GLC appointments” and you
will understand that under Harapan's watch the same political games were
played for the benefit of Bersatu which was supposed to be the Malay
tent pole under which all others sheltered.
The article reaffirms
that the nexus between political and corporate power is the norm in any
administration – even though Harapan claimed that they would reform the
system – but more importantly, how Bersatu led by former prime minister
Mahathir Mohamad was consolidating power and giving power to then PKR
deputy minister Azmin Ali who would later betray Harapan.
Meanwhile Lim Guan Eng (photo),
the then finance minister said that claims of patronage were an
exaggeration as “there are people who would aggravate the situation by
saying that this 10 percent is akin to 100 percent (of positions). “You can’t say that these 10 percent means that we are not committed (to reform) but before this (it was) almost 100 percent.”
Lim, everything was hunky-dory when it came to political appointments.
Never mind that 10 percent could be powerful positions of influence and
strategy. Gomez was right when he "noted that these appointments
violated Harapan’s GE14 manifesto, where it pledged to only appoint
professionals to national and state GLC boards and to not make such
choices based on politics (Promise 22).”
This however received
blowback from PKR MP for Sungai Buloh and then deputy rural development
minister R Sivarasa who said: “In other words, a person with political
affiliations can serve on a board as long as he has the necessary
experience and qualifications to do the job. “We must be measured against what exactly we promised, not by what people think or interpret we promised.”
Sivarasa said may have made some sort of pragmatic sense, if only
Mahathir had not said that promises made in Buku Harapan were a big
burden and that corruption was not a big issue since Harapan took over. The
former premier said: “The fact is corruption is not a very major issue
anymore. Previously, of course, people talked about corruption but now
there is less and this has been noted by those people.
“But there is still some corruption and we are working on eradicating it.” Sivarasa
also objected to Gomez’s call that GLCs be placed under the purview of
parliamentary select committees (PSCs), saying the issue had more to do
with control than professionals on the board, claiming “people may have
their own views on how GLCs should operate. We respect their right to
those views. “But in all fairness, we should be evaluated based only on what we say in our Buku Harapan.”
other words, the rakyat was supposed to evaluate Harapan on the Buku
Harapan in which the then prime minister has shown utter contempt for.
Not that I think placing GLCs under the purview of parliamentary select
committees means anything.
Current Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (photo),
who is now making a name for himself putting his foot in his mouth when
it comes to the pandemic response, threatened to quit the Parliamentary
Special Select Committee on Major Public Appointments because they were
in the dark over major appointments.
Suddenly, Ismail believed
that there should be accountability on appointments when the reality is
when Umno was in charge, the grand Umno poobah was making all these
appointments without referring to anyone or any parliamentary body. This
was similar when Harapan briefly held power. How PKR, DAP and Amanah
allowed this to happen says more about them then it does about Bersatu.
what did these Harapan special committees do anyway? PKR MP for
Selayang William Leong had to beg for an audience with the prime
minister and publicly wondered what the scope of these parliamentary
committees was. You mean you did not know, William? Nobody in Harapan
Actually, the PSCs were just for show since they really
could not do anything. Besides, when the PSCs were getting worked up by
the appointment of Latheefa Koya as MACC head, strangely, lesser appointments
of politicians holding public office such as the appointment of Seri
Kembangan lawmaker Ean Yong Hian Wah as Port Klang Authority chairperson
and Julau MP Larry Sng as the Malaysian Pepper Board chairperson had
escaped public and PSC scrutiny.
When political operatives say
they want “technocrats” for a position, this is complete horse manure.
There are really very few independent public or private personalities in
positions of influence in government-linked organisations. Why? Because
nobody really wants independent thinkers.
There are people who
are competent in their jobs but ultimately, they answer to the political
parties and not the government. Harapan told us they wanted to change
this but found all manners of ways to distort their manifesto and relied
on rabid partisans to distract and demonise the rakyat who wanted
What makes PN’s moves all the more despicable is that they
are doing it when frontliners are out there risking their lives. This,
while despicable, is not something that Harapan gets to use as a talking
point. Harapan had a chance to reform this process but always relied on
tired old excuses as to why they were not moving fast enough or at all.
makes this all the more disheartening, is that if Harapan had actually
carried out or was in the process of carrying out serious reforms, they
could use it against this unscrupulous backdoor government.
Instead, the best Harapan political operatives can do is point to a non-existent difference.