LETTER | Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s political will in tackling political cronyism is once again challenged when Kelantan Umno chief Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub was reappointed as Felcra chairperson.
Though the decision is currently put on hold following criticisms on social media, Anwar’s remark afterwards makes me doubt his seriousness in tackling the endemic issue.
Back in December last year, when Anwar was first sworn in as prime minister, he made a bold move by terminating all the contracts of political appointees in government-linked companies (GLCs), making me admire his attitude and efficiency in walking the talk that he has been delivering throughout the past few years when he was the opposition leader.
But now, Anwar is saying that political figures or MPs can be appointed to important positions in GLCs, with the benchmark being set at the evaluation of the politicians’ professional capabilities, past performance and compliance with regulations and principles of good governance.
Though this sounds right, there are a lot of other capable people out there. It does not have to be politicians, especially those from the ruling party, to hold key positions in GLCs.
A recent example of this would be the appointment of Nurul Izzah as the adviser to the Finance Ministry. We all know Nurul Izzah has her own capabilities and qualifications, but the issue of cronyism and nepotism is never about capabilities and qualifications.
Instead, they are about conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest does not concern one’s capabilities and qualifications, but it concerns the possible bias that a person may have in carrying out his or her professional duties, given some ties, in this case, the political ones, that he or she is bounded to.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to not appoint someone who has the possibility of such bias in important positions, although he or she may be well-qualified.
Felcra is a GLC aimed at rural development; therefore, it should not receive any form of political bias.
Not only Anwar is tarnishing his own administration’s image of good governance, but he is also providing room for Perikatan Nasional (PN) to attack them as state elections are coming.
Kelantan has long been a PAS fortress where Pakatan Harapan (Harapan) has nearly zero chance to penetrate.
Is Ahmad Jazlan’s (above) appointment as Felcra chairperson patronage given to Kelantan and rural voters, which now dominantly support PN, amid the upcoming state elections?
Why pander to Umno?
Anwar made a good start by terminating all contracts of political appointees once he got into power. He has also been travelling around the country and the world, presenting his ideology of good governance and zero corruption.
He should really be firm and consistent in his stance and avoid such abrupt political appointments from now on.
Even from the political perspective, Harapan has dominantly more seats than Umno and the latter will have nowhere to go if it leaves the unity government.
Therefore, why does Anwar have to constantly please the party until he is giving up on his own principles?
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.