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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Govt ditching GLCs could affect the poor, warns PSM

PSM’s Michael Jeyakumar says GLCs can be used for socially useful purposes.
KUALA LUMPUR: A former MP has voiced concern over the government’s plan to divest from government-linked companies (GLCs), saying some of them are well run and can be used for socially useful purposes.
Speaking at a forum, PSM’s Michael Jeyakumar said this includes paying salaries above the minimum wage, establishing childcare centres in offices and having vendor programmes to help SMEs.
“Once you divest to the private sector, you won’t have any control over these GLCs. So the government should keep these resources and use them to help the Bottom 40 (B40),” he said on the sidelines of a forum titled “Polisi Ekonomi Pakatan Harapan, Bela Rakyat atau Korporat?” here last night.
The former Sungai Siput MP added that GLCs make up 25% of Malaysia’s gross domestic product. Divesting them to wealthy individuals would mean a missed opportunity for them to serve a social purpose, he said.
He voiced concern that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s way of thinking had not changed since the 1960s.
“Mahathir always said that for the Malays to come up as a race in the modern era, they need their share of professors, entrepreneurs and capitalists, and divesting to individual Malays fits into this.”
The PSM central committee member said this had not worked well in the past. He gave the example of companies like Malaysia Airlines which had to be bailed out in 2001 at a cost to taxpayers.
Reuters, citing sources, previously reported that sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional was likely to divest some top state-linked firms, including CIMB, Axiata Group and Telekom Malaysia.
Khazanah has already sold off a 16% stake worth RM8.4 billion in IHH Healthcare.
Jeyakumar also urged Pakatan Harapan leaders to adopt a more holistic view of issues when pushing certain decisions, like promoting health tourism.
“When you do something to promote the private sector, you are undermining the public sector. When you grow the health tourism industry, the private hospitals will need more doctors and will take them from the public sector.
“Right now, only 10% of specialists with over 10 years of experience are serving in the public sector. The other 90% are in the private sector, but the public hospitals are looking after 70% of in-patients, while the 90% are looking after 30%.”
This, he said, was a big mismatch and something which the government needed to look into. FMT

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