Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Mahathir castrated powers of Finance Minister


Corporate sector, big business in Mahathir’s grip, says economist

by Nicholas Chung

Edmund Terence Gomez calls Dr Mahathir Mohamad the ‘de facto finance minister’

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent economist says Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has a strong grip on the corporate sector following what he called were “covert” reconfigurations after the change of government last year.

Edmund Terence Gomez also called for greater transparency and accountability on government-linked companies (GLCs), citing promises made in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto.

Presenting a report on GLCs prepared by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), of which he is a senior fellow, Gomez said the number of GLCs under the finance ministry had reduced significantly after many were moved under the Prime Minister’s Department.

“Although Lim Guan Eng of DAP was appointed finance minister, effective control of key government enterprises under its jurisdiction, including the sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional and the leading Bumiputera-based investment fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) were transferred to Mahathir’s Prime Minister’s Department,” the report said.

Mahathir castrated powers of Finance Minister 

He said the economic affairs, rural development and entrepreneur development ministries – which he said are led by ministers allied to Mahathir – have been critical in ensuring the prime minister’s grip on the corporate sector.

“These ministries are led by PPBM members Rina Harun and Redzuan Yusof, and Azmin Ali who is a close ally of Mahathir’s.

“The Prime Minister’s Department controls big businesses. The Ministry of Economic Affairs controls Bumiputera GLCs.

“The Ministry of Rural Development controls statutory bodies, giving them significant influence in rural areas, and the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development controls the small medium enterprises (SME) industry.

“The entire corporate sector is under control of PPBM, and with Azmin,” said Gomez, who also called Mahathir the “de facto finance minister”.

Gomez said Lim was just the figurehead of a “dismembered” finance ministry, adding that his ministry was more of a regulator for government spending.

He also pointed out that several political appointments had been made in GLCs under the rural development ministry, with up to eight representatives from PPBM, PKR and Amanah given director roles.

“PPBM is doing exactly what Umno did. They’re using the same system, they’re playing the same patronage games.

“And they’re giving directorships to people who lost to keep them loyal to the party. In other words, there’s no change to the system. It’s a reinforcement of the system, in fact,” he said.

“Is this the reconfiguration we wanted to see? This is a power reconfiguration. The same system abused by politicians is being abused by the current government. Now you know why they don’t want to make changes in the GLC world. It’s too important.”

He said GLCs should be placed under parliamentary select committees, adding that ultimately it has more to do about control than about professionals on board.

“You can appoint professionals, but ultimately are they really fully in charge or do they take the cue from the prime minister?

“I don’t think they have the autonomy. It’s these kinds of things we want to address,” he said, citing Mahathir’s self-appointment as Khazanah’s chairman.


  1. Let's take it step by step shall we. Sikit sikit lama lama jadi DPM....

    The last time we had a Chinese FM was Tun Tan Siew Sin (1959-1974). At that time GLCs, Khazanah, PNB, Petronas etc did not exist or were only budding. So TSS was not in charge of them either.

    But I do agree that they should not be put under the PM either. Should be under Parliament.

  2. To be fair, since Guanee and MoF was mentioned by Terence in not so positive light, he deserves a chance to rebut:

    Finance Minister says GLCs headed by professionals, not merely political appointees

    Wednesday, 30 Oct 2019


    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng sought to assure the public today that government-linked companies (GLC) are being headed by corporate professionals and not political appointees.

    In an interview by state broadcaster RTM in its Bicara Politkonomi show hosted by Sayed Munawar Sayed Mohd Mustar, Lim said GLCs are currently run and managed by industry experts and professionals.

    “This is a narrative that they wanted to relay to the new government, but if you look at what is being practised, all [GLC] board of directors are professionals,” he said, in reply to allegations that Pakatan Harapan (PH) is practising the same patronage politics by filling positions in GLC with political appointees.

    “Even if there are members of the board of directors that are politicians from Pakatan Harapan, they are only normal members or only active at the state level and not at the national level and there are no [Pakatan Harapan] elected representatives that are members of GLC board of directors.”

    With GLCs managed and run by professionals, Lim said these companies will continue to see better profits and governance that will ultimately benefit Malaysians.

    Lim explained that PH’s political appointees may make up more than 10 per cent of board of directors’ positions in any particular GLCs, but assured that they are professionals in their respective field.

    “There are people who would aggravate the situation by saying that these 10 per cent is akin to 100 per cent [of the positions].

    “You can’t say that these 10 per cent means that we are not committed but before this almost 100 per cent,” said Lim.

    Lim was referring to PH’s institutional reform pledge to free government-linked investment companies (GLIC) and GLCs of political patronage, starting with barring politicians from sitting on their boards.

    Lim assured that PH is serious in institutional reform, unlike the Barisan National administration who previously had placed “nearly 100 per cent” of political appointees in GLC and GLIC.

  3. All the cronies during TM' 21 yrs as BN OM were all professionals and see what happened. Professional or not as long as goodies are presented without open competition and based on merits will end up on the wrong side of ethics. LGE has been interested by BN disease and fail to be an original DAP.

  4. Edmund Terence Gomez has said as much as he dares to say on the subject of Malaysian GLCs.

    Let me draw a picture.

    At the bottom of corporate Malaysia, are houses of brick and mortar built by private citizens of Chinese, Indians, other races, too.

    Then, Dr. M started to build the Malaysian GLCs. Most prominent among them is Petronas. Petronas sucked up with natural wealth of Kelantan, Trengganu, Sarawak and Sabah, and placed them under the Federal Government. The first few among them are successful in their own right in business. Although, much of their acquired wealth were denied to the States that gave up those raw materials.

    With that, the uplifting of Malays began. GLCs became the vehicle of policy.


    These were managed by Malay "professionals", without sufficient practical professional experience. They, in turn, employed wholly Malays.

    In the finance sector, the Chinese & Indians were quickly replaced by a burgeoning group of Malay "university graduates", whose claim to fame are Grade 2 and Grade 3 in their STPM or GCE "A" levels. When fewer and fewer dared to venture in STPM, the Foundation matriculation system was created.

    Now, such graduates populate most, if not all, of the GLCs and their numerous subsidiaries and SPVs.

    Lower down the GLC corporate ladder, employees are all of the same racial background armed with SPMs with doubtful A passes or otherwise.

    Now, this would have been Dr. M's greatest achievements in his career, if not for one fact, no body has dared to reveal:-


    Each year, hidden in the budget of our various Federal and State Ministries, are billions of ringgit meant for these GLCs to buy whitewash for all that red ink that is flowing out with increasing volumes. The actual number of these GLCs and their subsidiaries has never been revealed and is strictly "officially secret".

    So far, NO ONE, not even DAP, dare to rock these HOUSES OF CARDS.

    If these Houses of Cards were to fall, the 2/3rds who did not vote for PH in the last elections, with ALL be out of a job. And, no where to turn to except violent protests.

    DAP and most in Civil Society cannot stomach the bloodletting.

    Shall we continue to allow the re-engineering of the re-engineered demographic failures to continue under those Ministries noted, above?

    Yes, it will certainly set Malaysia back well beyond the Year 2050.

  5. I wonder whether even KTemoc dare to approve my previous commentary in his blog.

    1. The tongkat addiction NEEDS a Lin Zexu equivalent to eliminate!

      The real unfortunate things for the melayu r

      1) corruptions & bribes r rezeki manna, allowed in their zombieic interpretations of Islam.

      2) inherited will deficiency in facing TOUGH problems. Resulting in all the superfluous window-dressing solutions, as described by mousy remie,to eliminate the ills facing the community.

      By imposing a tough but necessary reform would be a suicidal mission for ANY melayu politicians. Therefore, to avoid making difficult choices on
      the RIGHT approaches to uplift the melayu lots, most melayu politicians prefer the easier option of kicking the urgently needed sopo ball down the road.

      Until they face political consequences for doing so, they will keep passing the ball to the next vocal but equally clueless kampong champions.

      The fate of the future generations of melayu IS as doomed as that riverine serfdom known as Malacca!