LIKE many people, when the petition came around calling for the resignation of Pasir Salak MP and former Prasarana Malaysia Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman over his appallingly poor handling of the news conference held over the LRT train accident, I was happy to add my name to it.
It was unbelievably disgraceful and utterly disrespectful to the victims. He showed poor understanding of the problem, had to be frequently corrected by assistants, and made light of the accident, referring to the trains “kissing” each other while assuring that the lines are safe.
He amply demonstrated his incompetence as chairman of an organisation that has billions of ringgit of assets in terms of LRT and MRT tracks, stations and trains running under a complex computerised system, much of it on driverless trains, designed to prevent just such an accident that happened recently.
He was not the person to have had that press conference, which should have instead been run by a hand-picked team from Prasarana that should have clearly explained the accident and the lapses that occurred for it to have happened.
This team should have then faced the press, which had many questions but few answers for an accident unprecedented in the annals of Malaysian history. Never has Prasarana’s public transport system experienced such an accident, where over 200 people were injured, over 60 hospitalised, and six placed in intensive care .
What is unforgivable is that Tajuddin was totally unaware of his lack of knowledge and had the temerity to try to wing the press conference by himself, with the typical arrogance of a politician who was parachuted into a position of power that he does not deserve to be holding at all.
But who was responsible for this despicable state of affairs? Who put this man into this position and allowed him to run an organisation that holds billions of ringgit in assets, and which is now borrowing billions more to build LRT and MRT lines?
By the time everything is completed, it will have well over RM50 billion in assets under its control, making it easily the largest transport network in Malaysia. And Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin appointed Tajuddin, a politician more known for his nonsensical statements than anything else, to this very important role!
Why did he do that? Basically, to get the support of MPs in his fledgling Perikatan Nasional government when Muhyiddin was facing opposition to his appointment by the king as prime minister, with a strong movement then to get a vote of no confidence.
Within a month of taking power in March last year, he had expanded his cabinet to 70 members from 55 under Pakatan Harapan – but he needed to get the support of some 45 more MPs to be comfortably ensconced in power, as I explained here.
Well, Tajuddin was one of them. A person totally unprepared and unfit to lead an organisation as complex and as large as Prasarana. To keep himself in power, Muhyiddin was prepared to compromise competence and capability – he is the one who must resign alongside Tajuddin.
Now, he can watch the direct effects of one of his appointments of unqualified people to key positions. One must not underestimate the effects of the kind of snowball effect this causes. The changes in appointments are continuing to take place and will become more widespread, as explained in this article.
All this is being done openly: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan broadcasted via the media that all MPs who at present do not hold positions in government will be made heads of GLCs, according to this article in April last year.
The promise did not go unfulfilled, as this article showed. It said, on Bursa Malaysia, that there are four such companies with politicians as chairmen. They are Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, Boustead Holdings Bhd and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (see the chart for details).
There are numerous more, with government party MPs getting plum positions and other subsidiary positions going to party leaders of Bersatu, Umno, and PAS. All these have the potential to cause serious harm further down the line to the country, the people, and the economy.
Muhyiddin has to take the blame for this. To stay in power, he has resorted to handing out plum positions to his supporters, which give them more money and benefits, such as cars, drivers, and allowances. That’s a good enough reason to ask for his resignation.
If you look at their remuneration alone for the four of them in the chart, it ranges from RM344,000 to RM877,000 – a sizeable sum of money, which in effect is using GLC money for political support. The last I checked, that’s corruption.
Oh, there are other reasons for Muhyiddin to resign, of course. One is that he has a serious conflict of interest. A prolongation of the Covid-19 crisis is likely to result in the needless emergency being extended, immorally keeping him in power. He can’t be the one to be commander-in-chief in the war against Covid-19.
Now, the news is that Tajuddin has been removed – he did not resign – from his post as Prasarana chairman via a letter from Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. The Finance Ministry owns Prasarana.
Nobody expects that the PM will resign, of course – we can expect such accountability only from honest, morally upright people who value integrity. Only Parliament can remove him, but with no chance of it reconvening anytime soon, that’s hardly likely. – The Vibes, May 28, 2021
P. Gunasegaram is alarmed at the poor quality of our leaders – and he is sure you are, too. He is executive director of advocacy and research group Sekhar Institute and editorial consultant of The Vibes