No patronage in govt dealings


  • Letters
  • Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

I REFER to “Patronage is king?” by Edmund Terence Gomez (StarbizWeek, Jan 12).

Generally, I prefer not to respond to articles that are mere conjectures. However, in this instance I consider it important to clarify false arguments based on weak premises.

The Cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister; who he appoints and what portfolio they hold is entirely his prerogative. He can even have a Minister in charge of Durians if he so wishes, if he considers that a portfolio of Durians is good for his administration and the country.

In his present Cabinet, amongst the many changes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made, was to expand the portfolio of a ministry that now includes climate change, so how is his decision to expand the Economic Planning Unit to become the Economic Affairs Ministry the politics of patronage?

On Khazanah Nasional, MoF Inc is a shareholder of Khazanah, just as it is a shareholder of many government-owned companies. It is also the shareholder of Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) for example, but IJN is under the Health Ministry, not the Finance Ministry (MoF). Just as Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd is under the Transport Ministry, not its shareholder, MoF.

A shareholder need not necessarily be the implementing or administrative authority. This is in line with the principle of check and balance. So how is Khazanah under the Prime Minister’s Department the politics of patronage?

The chairman of Khazanah has always been, by convention and practice, the Prime Minister and this was duly acknowledged by the writer.

On the issue of the sale by Khazanah of 0.66% of its shares in CIMB Group Holding Bhd, if the writer had checked further, he would find that the sale was done in the open market via a book building exercise and was over subscribed by both local and international investors.

So, how does this sale by Khazanah of 0.66% of its stake in CIMB in the open market be extrapolated to “mark the beginning of the transfer of control to well connected business people, even proxies of politicians?” How is this sale of 0.66% the politics of patronage?

The Bumiputra Agenda is mutually inclusive with a National Agenda. For as long as we do not solve the bumiputra issue, we can never go forward as a nation. But as the government has clarified, it will be recalibrated and everyone who needs help will be given assistance, particularly the B40. Again, how is this the politics of patronage?

Finally, on a very personal matter, your large headline “Patronage is king?” accompanied by a big photo of me is very much reporting by innuendo.

TUN DAIM ZAINUDDIN

Kuala Lumpur


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