CONGRATULATIONS, Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar on your appointment as chairman of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, a key agency for the promotion of Bumiputera development in the modern sectors of the economy, in terms of employment, management and ownership of corporate wealth.
Having been associated with him following the Khazanah takeover of the financially troubled Renong/ UEM group at the height of the 1997 East Asian financial crisis, to restructure it into a viable business entity with PLUS Malaysia Bhd (PLUS) as its flagship, I observed that as chairman of the PLUS board, he was totally dedicated and committed to the task of winning back the confidence of local and foreign investors in the new restructured group.
Through sheer perseverance he managed to convince the investors at home and abroad that with Khazanah Nasional Bhd leading the change, they could be assured that its operating companies like UEM and PLUS would be managed with integrity, transparency and accountability. It was also at this time of the financial crisis that the government introduced major structural reforms through the GLC and other transformation programmes.
The changes that these reforms brought into the system of corporate governance and administrative practices paved the way for the start of the economic recovery. In 2001, when Wahid became the minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, he had strong influence on public policies.
The rise of other young well educated corporate leaders like him, especially in the GLC sector, is testimony to the success of the New Economic Policy in creating and expanding the pool of talent to participate in the development of the economy and more strikingly, to become the drivers for change in the corporate sector as well as in government.
Now that the country has a bigger pool of talented executives, well trained academically, and tested in the rough and tumble of the commercial world, they should be chosen to replace the politically connected directors on the chairs and boards of several quasi government agencies and statutory bodies.
These statutory bodies were established decades ago after the country became independent but their culture has not changed much.
With the changing mood in the country for more effective use of public funds in running the statutory bodies, the political nominees should be replaced by corporate executives to take over at both the board and management levels so that they can bring meritocracy into the statutory government agencies and introduce a better system of governance as practised in the Khazanah Group of companies.
TAN SRI MOHD SHERIFF MOHD KASSIM, Kuala Lumpur NST