Saturday, December 04, 2021

‘Not right’ to have Izzana on MDEC board, say lawyers, activists

‘Not right’ to have Izzana on MDEC board, say lawyers, activists

Izzana Salleh and family members are defendants in a government recovery suit over RM253.6 million owed by the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd . (Facebook MDEC pic)

GEORGE TOWN: A possible breach of ethics has been raised about the appointment of Izzana Salleh, daughter of former Umno minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, to the board of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Lawyers and activists said it was not right for someone being sued by the government to be appointed to a government agency.

Izzana was reported to have been recently made an independent non-executive director of MDEC despite her being named as a defendant in a government suit to recover RM253.6 million owed by the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFC).

She was an NFC board member at the time.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said it was wrong for a government agency to appoint someone named as a defendant in a suit filed by the federal authorities.

“It is very wrong for the government to blow hot and cold. One arm of the government takes her to court while the other arm gives her a directorship.

“The case ought to be cleared first. If the decision is in her favour, there is no issue in appointing her as a director,” he told FMT.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said the appointment was against good governance and created a perception that government-linked companies (GLCs) are starting to hire politically-linked personalities en masse.

“In terms of good governance, the optics don’t look good for MDEC. It creates a perception that the old ways are back since Umno retook the reins,” he said.

Academic Terence Gomez said this was another indication of GLCs being “improperly used” by appointing persons who are party to a federal lawsuit.

“When the government is stressing to create a thriving digital economy, this is not the time for such questionable appointments in MDEC,” he said.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said ideally, the appointment of directors to GLCs should be made after strict due diligence so that responsible and clean leaders are put in place.

Spokesperson Alissa Rode said a multi-partisan screening process should be held so as to avoid scenarios where positions are seen as political favours or mere sinecures.

“A lawsuit to recover public money would normally be an automatic red flag against appointment to any directorship, let alone public leadership roles, unless the defendant clears the case without liability,” she said.

Transparency International Malaysia’s president, Muhammad Mohan, said that although Izzana appears to be eminently qualified for the job, she should reject the directorship since there is a government lawsuit against her.

Legally not wrong

However, lawyer Kitson Foong said legally, there was nothing wrong with Izzana’s appointment.

He said the Companies Commission of Malaysia can disqualify her only if she has violated any of the laws under its jurisdiction or disqualified by any court to hold a director’s post.

Foong said since there was no evidence of Izzana being an undischarged bankrupt or having committed any crime, no one can stop her appointment.

Izzana was appointed to MDEC’s board of directors on Dec 1, according to the corporation’s website.

It was also reported that she holds a directorship in TalentCorp and is a member of the investment panel of the Social Security Organisation.

Izzana, her father Mohamad Salleh Ismail, and her two siblings were sued by the government in the recovery suits. Hearing of the case is expected to resume in January.

FMT has contacted MDEC and Izzana for comment.


  1. Najib's sons are multi-millionaires ler...

    1. Atuk's sons are well-known multi-millionaires, but you avoid mention of Najib's sons pretend like their fortune didn't exist.

    2. well known millionaires??? wakakaka, you sure talk kerbau - everyone in Malaysia knows the children of high & mighty politicians are billionaires or millionaires --- but it was you who picked on Najib's children and that was why I mentioned that Atuk's children are in the same financial caliber as well