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Khazanah Nasional should “head-hunt” for the most suitable and qualified Malaysian candidate, regardless of race, to head and turn around MAS into a profit-making and model GLC – as Malaysia cannot be short of top CEO material 48 years after Merdeka
UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is both right and wrong when asking for the rationalization of MAS in searching for a foreigner to fill the managing director’s post made vacant with the resignation of Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahlan after the airline reported a heavy net loss of RM280.7 million for the first quarter ended June 30.
Hishammuddin said the appointment of a foreigner to lead a nationally-owned company could be likened to allowing the country to be re-colonized, albeit in a new manner, through mind, culture and economy. Asking for the “valid reasons as to why the post could not go to a Malaysian, a Malay in particular”, Hishammuddin said: “Don’t look at it purely from the commercial aspect but also at the bigger agenda, that is the Malay agenda.
Hishammuddin is right in questioning why a Malaysian could not fill the post of a MAS CEO that it must go to a foreigner but his statement raises two disturbing issues; Firstly, whether the Malay Agenda is the biggest agenda in the country, even more important than the Malaysian Agenda; and secondly, his reasoning of “recolonisation” through mind, culture and economy jars and clashes with current government practices such as Cabinet Ministers sending their children to international schools instead of to national schools and the establishment of the International Advisory Panel of foreign economists, social scientists and financial experts to advise the Prime Minister on the economic strategies for the next 15 years.
If Malaysia does not have any local material who could lead and turn around the MAS into a profit-making and model GLC, then we must be prepared to talent-scout and head-hunt for the best CEO material in the global arena from any part of the world.
But is the country so deficient of top CEO material that there are no available Malaysians, regardless of race, who could be entrusted with the responsibility to head and turn around MAS? If so, then Malaysia is condemned to be a “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” nation!
In Parliament in June last year, I had called for the appointment of “the best and the brightest” Malaysians regardless of whether bumiputras or non-bumiputras to head GLCs, as these companies are linked to the Malaysian government whose performance, productivity and profitability are the concern of all Malaysians. As such, CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) and COOs (Chief Operating Officers) appointed to GLCs should come from the reservoir of the best and brightest of all Malaysians, regardless of race.
In response to my speech, the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop gave an assurance in Parliament on the selection of the “best and brightest” Malaysians regardless of bumiputras or non-bumiputras to head the GLCs in future.
More than a year has passed since this assurance by the second Finance Minister in Parliament and this undertaking has still to be fulfilled. Let the appointment of the MAS CEO be the first acid test of the preparedness of the government to select the “best and brightest” Malaysians regardless of bumiputras or non-bumiputras to head the GLCs.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman