PETALING JAYA: Controversy has erupted over the appointment of two board members of Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM), the government’s microfinancing agency for poor households.
The two are chairperson Datuk Junaidah Kiting and board member Nurul Iman Dzulkefly.
Junaidah is the wife of Abu Bakar Yahya, the political secretary to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. She is also the founder of a cosmetic line.
Nurul Iman is the daughter of Health Minister Datuk Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and a law lecturer at a private higher education institution.
They were appointed to their positions in October last year.
Soon after their appointments, cyberspace was filled with criticisms of their close relations to members of the Pakatan government.
Two days ago, the issue of Junaidah’s appointment was again raised by AIM co-founder Professor Sukor Kasim and Johor DAP leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau.
Dr Boo said the appointments of relatives of political office bearers is a continuation of the practices of the previous Barisan Nasional government.
“Cronyism creeps in with even more sophisticated forms into Pakatan and the powers that be.
“Please revive the promises that no political figure nor their political allies or relatives would be appointed to head or be part of government-linked companies. Those already appointed should relinquish their appointments on the grounds of advocating genuine reforms,” said Boo in his Facebook post yesterday.
When contacted, Junaidah said she was appointed by the top management of AIM, and there was no interference from the PM’s Office.
“I am a businesswoman in my own right. I developed my own cosmetic line with a small capital, just like the majority of poor women we are helping.
“It is unfair to allege cronyism in my appointment to the AIM chair just because I am the wife of the PM’s political secretary.
“As a woman entrepreneur who has gone through hardship just as the 340,000 women we are helping now, I believe I understand them and want to ensure AIM plays its role,” said Junaidah.
Nurul Iman said she was wary that her relationship to the Health Minister would become an issue following her appointment.
“There were initially no women board members despite the agency being a microfinancing one to assist mostly poor women to set up businesses. I was approached on that basis, and also because of my expertise. As I also have a legal background, I was asked to offer legal advice to AIM,” said Nurul Iman.
AIM is a private trust set up in 1987 that serves as an institution which provides microfinancing to poor households and low-income households in the country.
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