YOU can call it corporate cleansing or a corporate shake-up, but whatever the label, changes are abound.
In one day, two big chieftains of two major organisations resigned, and more resignations are expected in the coming days and weeks ahead.
The first to resign was central bank governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, a move that took some by surprise. News of his resignation leaked out on Tuesday and by midday yesterday, his resignation offer was accepted by the Government.
In his note to his colleagues, he said “sceptical as many may be, the bank did not know nor did we have any control over the proceeds of the land purchase that would be used to settle 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) obligations”.
Hours later, Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s (TM) group CEO Datuk Seri Shazalli Ramly resigned, although expectation of his departure was more anticipated. He leaves TM just a year after joining on May 1 last year. It happens to be one of the shortest tenures for that position.
His resignation raises questions as to what role he had played in the previous government, as otherwise, why was there a need to resign?
Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan is said to be next, as are the names of Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan and Datuk Mohd Omar Mustapha, chairman of the national oil company’s remuneration committee.
Both Sidek and Tajuddin were involved in the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) report on the RM31bil Bank Negara foreign exchange trading losses in the early 1990s. Even though some say the basis for the RCI was ambiguous, the process was pushed through to find a reason to implicate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Several other names have been bandied about, but we will have to wait for the announcements to roll in.
However, CEOs are not the only ones that will be putting in their papers in the coming days and weeks. Several chairmen of government-linked companies (GLCs) and board members who are political appointees who have been very clear in their political support of the previous government will have to either resign or get the sack.
In the past, GLC directorships were often given to retired senior civil servants as a gesture of long service and loyalty, but the new Pakatan Harapan government wants to put an end to the practise of rewarding VIPs with positions in GLCs, especially political appointees.
Several GLCs have too many board members and the numbers have to be scaled down to a reasonable size.
The government has also instructed that a study be done on salaries paid to chairmen of agencies under its purview, and once that report is out, some will have to automatically take a paycut or be prepared to make way for others to serve. Those who are being funded by the travelling public may also come under close scrutiny.
All this cleansing is not about not liking one’s face or that their credentials are questionable. In fact, those helming the GLCs are qualified personnel and you cannot blame some of them as they were then serving the previous government of the day. They had a professional duty to do so and an obligation to do their job professionally. However, some did make choices that could have been avoided.
It is going to be a tedious job filling the jobs with right candidates but the key should be meritocracy and not political patronage or loyalty.
While at it, women should not be ignored. If there is to be 30% women representation at the board level and many leading top posts, then this is the time to give the many qualified and high-calibre ladies a chance to prove their mettle. They should be part of the reforms taking place in the new Malaysia but done so only on merit.
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