Felda woes show the need for legislation on political financing


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 11 Apr 2019

PETALING JAYA: Following the revelations in the Felda White Papers on Wednesday (April 10), the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) says government-linked companies (GLCs) should be prevented from serving as vehicles for political financing.

This should be reflected in the new legislation on political financing, said C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel.

She said the government should also speed up the establishment of the office of the ombudsman to supervise the conduct of government administration aimed at enhancing and strengthening corporate governance and accountability.

“The ombudsman must be an independent institution and must act as an independent officer with the responsibility to investigate the actions of government institutions, and (function) with an independent complaints commission for GLCs and Statutory Bodies,” she said in a statement on Thursday (April 11).

Gabriel also suggested the enactment of a public sector malfeasance act in Malaysia that functioned to prevent those holding public office from misusing their public power and inflicting loss and damages towards government institutions.

She said there was also a need for a Parliamentary select committee to monitor Felda and its subsidiary companies, evaluating their financial and non-financial performance.

“Select committees should be given the power to conduct an enquiry, to compel attendance at its hearing, and to demand production and inspection of documents.

“These enquiries should be made public, with settlers given a chance to participate in them.

"Accountable and transparent governance of Felda is imperative to ensure that this institution suffers no more abuse,” she said.

During the tabling of the papers, the government accused the previous administration of, among other things, shady transactions and conflict of interest.

The Dewan Rakyat was told that some RM2.7bil of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) money was used to buy political support before the last general election in May 2018.

According to Gabriel, the settlers should be given greater participation in Felda’s decision-making process.

“Their representation on the Felda Board and that of the agency’s companies should be increased, thus allowing them to co-manage these businesses.

"Felda companies can be better managed if led by professionals, but with feedback from settlers,” she said.

Gabriel added that it had become imperative for the Pakatan Harapan government to be committed to ensuring that professionals were appointed into the Felda bodies, and that their appointments were based on merit and not political connection.