KUALA LUMPUR – June 4, 2020: Do members of parliament (MP) who were appointed to lead government-linked-companies (GLC) have inadvertently disqualified their parliamentary status? No, not really.
This was so because the term “office of profit” stated in Article 48(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution – detailing the disqualification of an MP – does not include posts in GLCs, contrary to an argument by a blogger who claimed otherwise.
Constitutional expert Professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz from International Islamic University pointed out that Article 48(1) needed to be read together with Article 160(2) that further fleshes out what an “office of profit” is.
Citing Article 160(2), Shamrahayu explained that an office of profit meant any fulltime position in public services including that in the office of any judges, Auditor General, Election Commission or any corresponding state-level commissions.
“I don’t see positions in GLCs being explicitly mentioned as “office of profit” in Article 160(2). But if a GLC was formed by an act of law, then one needs to check if that GLC regards itself as a public service,” she said.
She added that if the GLC does not regard itself as a public service outfit, then whatever post an MP was given in it cannot be a ground to disqualify his/her parliamentary status.
Appointment of MPs and politicians into GLCs is a norm in Malaysia, one that has been viewed by critics as a political reward system aimed at consolidating power and support.
Pakatan Harapan, which has promised to stop such practice in the run-up to GE14, was seen by critics as reneging on its vow following the appointment of Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin as a board member of Khanzanah Nasional Berhad.
The current ruling coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN) led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from Pribumi Bersatu has been criticised after one of his ministers remarked that PN MPs who did not make it into the Cabinet will be tasked to manage GLCs instead.
Several appointments were made following the controversial remark with the latest being the appointment of Selangor Umno chief Tan Sri Noh Omar, who is the Tanjong Karang MP as the new chairman of Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Berhad – a subsidiary of Petronas.
Malaysia has over 400 GLCs, though only a handful rakes significant profit.