KUALA LUMPUR – March 2, 2016: Several local analysts have told The Mole that the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) acting president Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid should be more objective, following his comment on the dividend rate recently announced by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
EPF has set a dividend rate of 6.40 per cent for 2015 with a total payout of RM38.24bil.
In a statement, EPF said the increase was in tandem with the growth in EPF investment assets, which stood at RM684.53bil as at Dec 31, 2015.
Abdullah Sani, who is also a PKR Kuala Langat parliamentarian had reportedly commented that the fund’s latest dividend rate is disappointing, although it still inspired better than the likes of pilgrim’s fund Tabung Haji.
Meanwhile, MTUC secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam also said it was unfortunate that EPF had declared 0.35 per cent less than the dividend rate in 2014, which was at 6.75 per cent.
Analysts who talked to The Mole said the MTUC acting president should be more fair and objective in his assesment, considering that the country’s economic condition is currently in stabilising phase.
Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan of Perdana School and Geospatial Institute when contacted said it is hard to concur with Abdullah Sani’s statement, as the latest dividend rate should be considered as good, now that the global economy is unhealthy.
“If Abdullah Sani believed the 6.4 per cent rate is disappointing, then if Malaysia achieved a five percent GDP growth for 2016, he should also be disappointed,” he added.
On Abdullah Sani being an opposition member of parliament, Azmi said it is normal for a union leader to be affiliated with a political party, but one must avoid from using the granted post as a medium to propagate political party’s ideology.
As there is also a rising concern over the involvement of politicians in the union, the analyst advised the acting president to be objective in all of his actions.
“Abdullah Sani must act on behalf and on the needs of MTUC members, not of the PKR’s.
“It’s up to its members whether they want a leader who is closely associated to a political party or a leader who does not belongs to any quarters,” he added.
Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said that it is common for a politician to get involved in unions and appointed as leader, provided that one committed to be fair in ruling decisions.
The analyst agreed that it is puzzling for the MTUC acting president to be disappointed over EPF’s dividend rate, if the fund’s current dividend rate merely faces marginal decrease compared to its past value.
“If they (MTUC) are disappointed with the announcement due to a huge gap between the current and past dividend rates, then they have the right to argue the reasons of such dropping. That would be acceptable,” he added.
Azizudin said that however, it is still up to the union members to appoint leaders, regardless of the candidates’ political affiliation.
“As far as I know, politicians are allowed to join and lead unions in private sectors. If the members decided to have anyone from the oppositions or the ruling government, that’s their decision,” he added.
Independent economist and political analyst Prof Dr Hoo Ke Ping said that there are high chances that a politically affiliated union leader to be impartial in their judgment.
Hoo added, there is no law that forbidden politicians to lead a union, and as for this case, the appointment of the union leader is up to the members’ decision.
“During the former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s time, he had tried to differentiate between political and non-political bodies in 1985, by amending the Societies Act 1966. The amendment was later scrapped.
“But if the amendment takes place, it would cost our nation its reputation and would probably makes us look bad in the eyes of international leaders, and we would be rated as ‘a failed state’ if we ban politicians from taking part in unions,” he added.
Prominent journalist blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan in a blog posting had also wrote that despite of being the second highest dividends has ever announced by EPF, some quarters appear to be “unhappy”,
He added that one of the disapproving quarters is the MTUC acting president, who called it ‘disappointing’.
“But then again, Abdullah Sani is not just representing MTUC; he represents the opposition in his capacity as PKR Kuala Langat parliamentarian.
“Is it disappointing for MTUC, or for PKR?” the blogger wrote.