KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, who has played a key role in turning around several government-linked companies (GLCs), says that the view of a private think tank claiming that GLCs are crowding out private investments and are products of costly public bailouts is wrong.
“Many of the conclusions made by that policy paper were not just misleading but also erroneous,” he said in reference to a recent report by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) on GLCs and their impact on the economy.
Wahid said he agreed with Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s strong rebuttal to the report.
Wahid, himself a veteran of many GLC transformations, said decisions by the government such as to take over UEM Group back then was necessary, as the company was the owner of strategic highways.
“I was involved in the pre-GLC transformation back in 2001, when Khazanah took over the UEM/Renong group from the private sector. It was necessary because the UEM group was holding many national assets,” he said.
He pointed out that UEM group’s turnaround was a success and this was followed by the launch of the GLC transformation initiatives in 2004.
Wahid said GLCs were now in better financial standing and corporate governance, as well as their contribution to nation-building.
On performance, he said GLCs have been dishing out billions of ringgit in terms of dividend payouts to their shareholders and are also good tax paymasters.
“In terms of governance, undoubtedly, the GLCs have been the main driving force of improvement in corporate governance in the stock market.
“Recently, there was an award on corporate governance, and seven out of 10 companies were government-linked investment companies (GLICs),” Wahid said.
On nation-building, he said GLCs have been playing a huge role in providing employment and business opportunities as well as corporate sustainable programmes.
“Overall, GLCs supported by GLICs have done well,” Wahid said.
Prior to his stint as a Cabinet minister in charge of economic planning and currently as chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Wahid was the corporate poster boy who had overseen the turnaround of UEM Group, Telekom Malaysia Bhd and Malayan Banking Bhd .