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Appointing Isa SPAD chief didn’t help public perception
Published on: Saturday, September 02, 2017

By Datuk Akhbar Satar
TRANSPARENCY International-Malaysia (TI-M) applauds the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrests of Tan Sri Isa Samad in connection with the ongoing investigation into Felda Investment Corporation (FIC)’s hotel purchases in London and Kuching.

TI-M urges all parties to respect MACC’s responsibility to pursue its investigations fully and without fear or favour.

Should there be sufficient evidence, as deemed by MACC, due legal process must take its course.

What the rule of law and the public expect is that there should be no interference from any party.

It is important to note that perception and public confidence are important aspects of a democratic system that upholds the rule of law. However today, repeated (or perceived) instances of selective prosecution in corruption cases have led to the formation of a negative perception towards the government.

This negative perception was fuelled by the manner in which Isa was appointed acting chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) by the Prime Minister, barely days after resigning as chairman of Felda Global Ventures (FGV) following the corruption allegations made against him.

As we are aware, Isa was handpicked by the Prime Minister to head FGV, a government-related entity responsible for looking after the wellbeing of more than 100,000 smallholders and their families.

Another element of this case which must be seriously looked into is the level of corporate governance practised in Government Linked Companies (GLCs) and other Public Interest Entities (PIEs). As companies which utilise public funds, corporate governance standards in these entities must be of the highest level.

In this case, if the FGV board approved the hotel purchases in question, where is the collective responsibility and accountability of the board for its decision? Were they not aware of the huge disparity in valuations of the properties? These questions go to the heart of sound corporate governance practice which is intended to identify and mitigate risks before they become a liability to the company.

Isn’t it time we stop the practice of appointing politicians, both current and former, to boards of GLCs and PIEs?

Is there such a dearth of professional, independent talent to fill these vacancies? Or is there a lack of political will to do so?

Today, the people are watching to see whether this current case will be allowed to proceed with due legal process, or will it take a sudden turn and end up like other lost cases which were announced with much fanfare, only to end with a whimper. Institutional investors and credit rating agencies are also watching to see how serious Malaysia is in tackling corruption.

The independence of our law enforcement agencies and the judiciary must be upheld, and there should be zero political interference in the development and progress of this case moving forward.

Let justice be done and be seen to be done. The people expect nothing less, being tired of the repeated scandals plaguing our nation.

Datuk Akhbar Satar President Transparency International-Malaysia

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