A think tank study shows Dr Mahathir’s move to fulfill a promise by the Pakatan Harapan to reform the GLCs was carried out in such a manner that it benefited his own party.
The Think Tank, Ideas, also said this trend was identified from changes made to the ministerial reporting lines for multiple GLCs in five key ministries.
The Think Tank described the overall process as being a “major, but covert, reconfiguration of control of GLCs” under Dr Mahathir’s Harapan rule.
Among other things, the Ideas study found that control of nine major corporations under the Finance Ministry had been transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department under Mahathir’s watch, a revived Entrepreneur Development Ministry and the newly formed Economic Affairs Ministry.
The Minister of Economic Affairs Azmin Ali is a staunch supporter of Dr Mahathir, pledging against his party’s wish to get PM-to-be Anwar Ibrahim to take power soon.
After numerous rumours that Azmin intended to support Dr Mahathir against Anwar, he finally made it public this month that he wanted the PM to remain in power until the end of the political term.
Azmin is from the Justice Party or PKR whose leader is Anwar Ibrahim.
Azmin was given effective control of GLCs with a clear mandate to support the development of bumiputeras in the economy.
In essence, Ideas noted that while the Democratic Action Party’s leader Lim Guan Eng was appointed Finance Minister, he lost effective control of key government enterprises.
This includes the prized sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional and leading bumiputera-based investment fund, Permodalan Nasional Bhd.
These are both now under the tight grip of Dr Mahathir while the Ministry of Finance was left with rather poorly performing GLCs under the Minister of Finance Inc.
While Dr Mahathir’s reform of the MOF scuttled the powers it had under the Barisan Nasional (which allowed for the 1MDB scandal), those powers are now within grasp of Bersatu and its supporters among the PKR ministers.
Dr Mahathir also gave his party, the Bersatu and the Justice Party, control of corporations that were once under Umno, through the PM’s department, the Entrepreneur Development Ministry, the Rural and Regional Development Ministry and the Economic Affairs Ministry.
“GLCs within these four ministries have also been shifted between them, though it appears to serve the purpose of ensuring each minister has enormous influence over a core mode of enterprise, ie large public listed firms, statutory bodies, bumiputera GLCs and SMEs.
“These companies cover the entire spectrum of Malaysia’s corporate sector,” said Ideas. -/TISG