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Governance 101: Member of Parliament’s free time


Speaking of having the right governance, you would have probably read this article titled “Parit MP appointed Felcra chairman” in the NST yesterday:-

Parit MP Nasaruddin Hashim had been appointed as the new Felcra Berhad chairman.He replaces Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin whose term of office expired last month. Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin, who announced the appointment, said Nasaruddin would hold the post for two years from today.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop had agreed to the appointment. Abdul Aziz also thanked Hamzah, who held the post since 1999, and his board of directors for their services.

“Following the appointment, new members would be appointed to the board and new officials for the subsidiary companies,” he said after presenting zakat and Hari Raya contributions to 150 single mothers as well as donations to masjid and surau representatives and Umno branch chairmen under Gopeng Umno division.

Abdul Aziz said Felcra and Risda must get back to basics and focus on their core businesses which were rubber and oil palm and to enjoy higher yields.

I have nothing against the appointment but this is something I don’t get with the Government’s “shock sendiri” (self imposed glory) appointments – the question to which area Nasaruddin will be focusing on for the next 2 years? As a MP taking care of the welfare & issues arising in his constituent or as a chairman “ensuring Felcra gets back to basics and focus on the core business”?

Assuming he is focusing on his constituent, then what is the point of appointing a puppet chairman who probably given high perks to warm up the chairman seat? Chairman of public listed companies can make a huge difference on the direction of the company’s board if it is well run and done professionally (anyone recall Andy Grove and Jack Welch?).

Nasaruddin may not match Andrew Grove or Jack Welch but does he has the right qualifications to be appointed as a chairman of a well known GLC in the first place? His profile in one the government run website indicates that he has a Bachelor Degree in History. Nothing is mention about his skills on management or business.

Perhaps it is ok for him to be the chairman since he is not the CEO of Felcra or the guy overseeing the day to day operations but that does not mean we can appoint any Tom, Dick and Harry into the Board, just because he is a politician of the ruling political party? It is no wonder that some of the Bumi managed GLCs are in the limbo these days and does not make major impact on the international market. There are too many inexperienced politicians being appointed in place of true professionals.

Based on the last financial audited report posted in Felcra’s website, the entity made a net loss of RM52.9 million (losing a lot on staff cost & operating expenses). That’s a lot of money if you ask me. I am unable to locate the latest reports for 2001 onwards. It was reported in the Star that the entity made RM118.2 million in 2005 but no further details were given. Would any different be made if it was run by professionals?

On the other hand…

Assuming he is focusing on his chairmanship, then what will happen on the focus on the welfare and issue arising in his constituents? Certainly the people in Parit did not elect the MP so that he could frog-leap to other lucrative post. They elected him to represent them (not the political party) in the Parliament fighting and raising on their issues.

Although it is not that our local MPs are known to be the type who acts unselfishly for the people (most of them retreat to be the government’s “yes” man) but in this case, it is apparent that the job of “being a MP for the people” may take a back seat for the next 2 years. That is of course until the next election time comes along.

The question is why appoint a MP as a GLC chairman if it means the person have to divide the time between the 2 important jobs. Can’t the government get a professional to run the GLC backed by sound monitoring by the MPs?

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