Change, but change meaningfully
By Hafidz Baharom
It was an awkward week when you have a prime minister saying that a government linked investment company did not achieve it’s objective of furthering the Bumiputera agenda. Mostly because he was talking about Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which I’m not sure if it even had the duty of furthering a Bumiputera agenda.
That being said, yes – the Board really needs to explain how on earth a venture into women’s lingerie was considered a good deal at RM80 million. But more importantly, I also have this question playing in my head – which lingerie company actually lost money and shut down.
Was it Sloggi? Was it Wacoal? Was it Triumph?
I would have added Victoria Secret to that list, but from what I’ve seen in Malaysia they don’t sell their lingerie in their stores here. And for those further wondering how yours truly knows these brands, well, I’m observant at the malls. That, and I used to do the household collective laundry growing up.
However, when you vacate the entire Board of Directors and then place the prime minister and a member of his cabinet on the Board, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Yes, it is a government linked investment corporation, but so was 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
They had a board with political patronage as well, a combination of politicians and corporate sector individuals – it still did not bode well. Thus, we need to ask – why involve politicians at all in these investment corporations?
Surely after mentioning that there was enough talent in the Pakatan Harapan rank and file, as well as its close corporate allies, there are enough people to take those posts and be professional about it?
There must exist a separation of government and business to avoid patronage and nepotism, and remove the risk of conflicts of interests. It must be said that government linked corporations as well as their investment corporations – Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Khazanah Nasional, and even the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) – should be hands off from political influence. This is especially important for the PNB and EPF because these are the future savings of all Malaysians.
One of the excuses put forward is this is how the companies have been run since the time of their establishments. Well, I am pretty sure the Malaysian population voted for this government to change things that were awry to begin with, yes?
After all, for many years pass we heard Pakatan lawmakers facing the accusation that their leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a former Finance Minister made the decisions that they opposed. And for those same years, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah would stand up and say “if it was bad, why not change it?”.
The same question now applies to Pakatan Harapan. Why not change decisions that do not tally with their internal beliefs of reducing the power of the prime minister and even going further and removing every single thing they opposed when they weren’t in power?
Why do we still have a debate on child marriages when some 40 plus year old has been in love with a girl since she was 7, and subsequently marry her at the age of 11?
How could you promise the EPF deductions for wives from their husbands account without even noticing the law wouldn’t allow it?
Why is it more important to have a constitutional guarantee to the internet, when we haven’t even held anyone responsible for the telco leak ages ago?
Is it more important to remove LGBTs from serving in the government, or is it more to retain talent and reward it without thinking about what goes on in someone’s bedroom?
How is it that we can cancel public transportation projects and yet, still go about reconsidering the want for a third national car company, forcing people to pay for petrol, maintenance, road tax, car insurance and even the tolls which are supposed to be abolished in stages?
There are a lot of things still pending for this government and while we do want to give them some leeway for being new at their current jobs, the ideas being generated are outdated, avoiding, and some are just silly. Do we really need to debate black versus white shoes when we need education reform on a higher level?
Whatever it is, I do hope this government bucks up soon because the supposed changes promised to their supporters is slowly becoming sillier by the day.