Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Question of Competence

Can you believe it? According to a Star report today, the Terengganu Menteri Besar:
  1. Appointed "an ambulance driver as a director of a Terengganu Government-linked company"

  2. Appointed two former primary school teachers as directors in a subsidiary company and state-owned hospital in Kuantan, Pahang.
And I'm sure there are plenty more of such appointments where they come from. Reasons? According to the Terengganu State Assembly Backbenchers Club Chairman
He (Ahmad) is attempting to Kijalnise (referring to Mentri Besar’s Kijal constituency) the state administration by roping in his supporters and appointing them to helm executive positions in state-owned agencies regardless of whether they are qualified or not.
In other words, just plain cronyism at its ugliest.

Even in Selangor, when our former Menteri Besar, Mohd Khir Toyo when on luxury junkets to Disneyland which cost a state-owned agency RM1.7 million(!) on the pretext of a "study trip" - it could only be done because such cronies were appointed to these companies. You might remember that the Finance Manager for Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB) which funded the excursion was the Puteri UMNO Selangor Chief, Nora Azmin Radzuan.

No, we do not want to appoint the managers and directors of our state government agencies based on cronyism, and we must avoid it at all cost. If not, at some point of time, our Pakatan Rakyat governments will just become a useless mirror image of the Barisan Nasional counterparts.

Despite a whole lot of complaints and pressures from certain parties to appoint party-based political leaders to key positions within the state government agencies and corporations, I'm happy to note that the Penang state government has resisted all such pressures from within and without.

The so-called high profile appointments made to date over at InvestPenang (IP), Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and Penang Global Tourism Sdn Bhd (PGT) has been based purely on competence and the candidates' professional credentials. None of the appointees were even DAP members, much less DAP leaders. In fact, Datuk Lee Kah Choon was at the point of appointment still a member of Gerakan! This only serves to prove that the Penang state government values competence more than anything else, even political affiliation.

Race isn't even an issue as Pn Wan Zailena bt Mohd Noordin, a human resource specialist was appointed as the General Manager of IP last year while a creative industry vetaran Mr Ong Thiam Hiong is appointed to be the General Manager of PGT. Most recently, Mr Julian Candiah who has held top management positions in some of the global investment banks was appointed to be the Deputy General Manager 1 of PDC.

We want our agencies to be managed using global best practices, and we can only do so by employing the best for the job (or at the very least, the best we can get for what we can afford to pay). And the Penang state government should certainly remain steadfast in its policies even if it creates resentment among some leaders within Pakatan Rakyat who may be more interested in dishing out political patronage.
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