Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR) is greatly concerned by the announcement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan that all government members of Parliament (MPs) will be made heads of government-linked companies (GLCs).
One of POWR's key missions is to reverse the manner in which democracy has been consistently corrupted by the intertwining of money and politics.
GLCs exist to help spur the economy in certain strategic sectors where the private sector is not in a good position to do so on its own. Over time, GLCs have come to dominate a disproportionate portion of our economy, and the heads of GLCs make key decisions about how to spend massive amounts of what are essentially public funds.
A very bad habit that has emerged over the years is the practice of using GLC positions as currency in dispensing political patronage, creating a vicious cycle of money politics. The practice is: Senior politicians are appointed to key GLC positions, who then use that position to channel GLC resources to their supporters, in exchange for the support required to ensure that that senior politician remains a senior politician in his or her party, and so on.
The more it becomes standard practice to appoint senior politicians to lucrative GLC positions, the more senior political posts will be seen as a means to enrich politicians and their supporters, and the more money will be invested in party elections and other forms of money politics.
GLCs are key drivers of the economy. If they continue to be led by politicians who are appointed as a form of political patronage, then key decisions that will profoundly impact Malaysia's economy will be made on the basis of narrow political self-interests instead of on the basis of sound economic and commercial principles.
This practice was prevalent with both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan rules, and it seems will be continued under Perikatan Nasional. Many previous administrations have pledged to reform this culture but none has followed through with promises to do so.
POWR was founded to overhaul the incentive structures that have poisoned Malaysia's politics and economy. The mismanagement that comes with political patronage and feudalism has cost the nation untold billions and will continue to do so until there is a healthy separation between politicians and businesses.
No genuine democracy can long survive the scourge of money politics. We urge the government not to appoint MPs as heads of GLCs, and to instead appoint the most qualified non-partisan individuals to head GLCs, and to begin the process of decentralisation in both politics and the economy.
ALEXANDRA JOHN, ALTAF DEVIYATI, FAISAL AZIZ, NATHANIEL TAN, SITI NOOR MUNIRAH IBRAHIM
Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)
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