KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — The appointment of Wan Izzana Fatimah Zabedah Mohamad Salleh, the daughter of former Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as an independent non-executive director of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) was due to her credentials, Tan Sri Annuar Musa told Parliament.

The communications and multimedia minister said that Wan Izzana should not be subject to harassment over her family ties or the National Feedlot Corp Sdn Bhd (NFC) saga, which scuppered her mother’s political career.

MDEC’s website showed that Wan Izzana was appointed to the post on December 1 this year.

In his ministerial winding-up speech in the Dewan Rakyat, Annuar said that her appointment was done by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), according to existing rules, and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry welcomed the appointment.

“Appointments are based on the merit of the person being appointed. Puan Izzana is a young woman who is highly qualified. A graduate of Imperial College and also a graduate of Harvard, she has a track record as well as experience. Right now, she is being linked to problems said to be faced by her family. I feel we must be fair. If we as parents are facing issues, we don’t want our children to suffer harassment when they have certain merits.

“Her appointment is based on her own merit. She is a young woman who has good credentials. She needs to be given a chance and her post is a non-executive director’s post. The ministry is confident that she can contribute and represent the voice of young women in an important company such as MDEC,” the Ketereh MP said.

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto then pointed out to Annuar that Wan Izzana already holds positions in Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad (Talentcorp) and the Social Security Organisation (Socso), questioning if latter can carry out her role in MDEC with the existing “heavy responsibilities”.

Kasthuriraani also asked why Wan Izzana was picked for the job, when there are qualified graduates from local universities who are suitable for the role.

“There are many graduates, not just from Harvard, but also local universities, who in my view, are equally qualified if not more qualified than this woman. So I hope that with her holding positions in two different entities, perhaps the minister, as the communications and multimedia minister could make another proposal to the ministry. We hope there can be someone else whom we can appoint instead of this person,” she said.

“This is not about it being a woman’s issue. This is to do with qualifications and someone who already holds two other positions. She stands in the way of other women getting a place at MDEC,” she added, when Annuar, in jest, said that he felt that the outspoken MP was a defender of women’s issues.

In response, Annuar remained firm in his initial reply, stressing Wan Izzana’s credentials, adding that she is even “overqualified” for the job.

“Firstly, in terms of qualifications, clearly she is qualified. In fact, overqualified, in terms of qualifications, and I want to state that the post appointed by the finance minister is that of a non-executive director. Meaning, it’s not like she must sit there the whole time and do work there. She is only a non-executive director who attends meetings. She has no power to run day-to-day operations. As we all know and you also understand, it is not an issue for a person to sit as director in many companies, but this is as a non-executive director,” he said.

NFCorp was formed in 2007 with its subsidiary, NFC, to monitor, guide and train contract farmers to expand the local beef industry and move away from the government’s dependency on imported meat.

NFCorp took out a RM250 million loan from the Finance Ministry as capital to start its operations aimed at satisfying 30 per cent of the local demand for beef.

Following its formation, NFCorp found itself embroiled in a scandal, after its chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh, who is Wan Izzana’s father and Shahrizat’s husband, was charged with two counts of criminal breach of trust involving some RM49.7 million.

But in November 2015, he was acquitted.