Political appointees to govt agencies based on merit, says DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail distributes mandarin oranges to members of the public at the Taman Muda market in Ampang February 1, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail distributes mandarin oranges to members of the public at the Taman Muda market in Ampang February 1, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

AMPANG, Feb 1 — Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail conceded today that some of the recent appointments in government agencies were people who were members of Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties or their political associates.

However, the deputy prime minister rejected criticisms of cronyism levelled at the ruling coalition, saying those appointed were chosen based on their qualification.

“Most of these people do not hold high ranks in the party and we are indeed reducing the number of political appointees,” the former PKR president told reporters after distributing mandarin oranges for the coming Chinese New Year festival to the public at the Taman Muda market here.

Dr Wan Azizah added that all Pakatan Harapan component parties were given constant reminders in the matters of such appointments.

PH had again come under attack by political foes over the recent appointments of Parti Amanah Negara member Nik Omar Nik Abdul Aziz and DAP member Sheikh Omar Ali to the trustee board of Islamic missionary body Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, and former DAP member Hew Kuan Yew to the Malaysia-China Business Council as its new CEO starting today.

The coalition was previously criticised for appointing Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) member Wan Saiful Wan Jan as chairman of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation, another PPBM member Akhramsyah Sanusi as Mara Corporation chairman, and Amanah member Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah as National Kenaf and Tobacco Board chairman.

In Johor, two PPBM division chiefs were appointed as board members of the Johor Education Foundation (YPJ) after the foundation admitted the political post listing was just a “blunder” and their appointments were based on academic qualification and experience in education and corporate fields.

According to Promise 22 in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, PH aims to make the governance of GLCs world class and be on par with international standards.

Earlier this month, the chairman of the Parliament Special Select Committee on major public appointments had said political appointments to regulators were acceptable but not those to government-linked companies (GLCs).

Selayang MP William Leong told Malay Mail that regulatory bodies were there to implement policies first and foremost while GLCs were primarily aimed at making profits.

“There is no problem with political appointees to regulatory bodies because politicians are needed to implement policies when they are appointed to the respective boards,” he was reported saying.