KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Sangetha Jayakumar, a Wanita Keadilan leader, was recently named as a member of Port Klang Authority’s (PKA) board of directors, making her the latest political appointment into government-run enterprises despite the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition’s pledge to limit the practice.
The placement was announced yesterday. Wanita Keadilan released a digital poster to congratulate Sangetha’s appointment which was shared on its Whatsapp group on Saturday. The PKR women’s wing said Sangetha’s appointment showed Fadhlina Sidek’s commitment to uplift women in the corporate world.
The PKA oversees the running of Malaysia’s principal port. It is a statutory corporation established on July 1, 1963, to take over the administration of Port Klang from the Malayan Railway Administration.
The move was made as part of a policy to infuse private sector management and discipline in various government-controlled undertakings in the country. It was the first privatisation of a major port facility, the PKA said on its website.
During Barisan Nasional’s six-decade rule, PKA’s chairmanship was reserved for members or proxies of the ruling coalition under a practice that became a convention and unchallenged.
Opposition leaders at the time, alleged these appointments were usually used to reward loyalty, and that the practice had led to widespread corruption.
PH eventually sacked all political appointees in government-linked investment firms and state-run companies after it ousted BN in the 2018 general elections as part of its pledge to eradicate political patronage.
But the practice was reinstated after it formed a coalition government following last year’s general election, even as the coalition was unclear if it had changed its position about political appointments since 2018.
PKA’s current chairman is Ean Yong Hian Wah, a Selangor DAP leader. The DAP is a key component PH member.
Of the 442 government departments, agencies, and GLCs listed in the Ministers of the Federal Government Order 2023, politicians from Anwar’s ruling coalition —19 MPs and 42 other politicians — took up at least 61 boardroom positions, Malaysiakini reported citing publicly available information.