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17th July 2020
 Defence Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob scored a big red mark for the Perikatan Nasional government when he supported his deputy’s appeal letter to appoint the latter’s son into the board of Pharmaniaga Bhd. In this episode of entwined political-corporate misstep, each step revealed itself bad corporate and political governance. 
First, it was shameful of the deputy defence minister to have issued a support letter for his own son to be appointed to the board of Pharmaniaga. Second, it was unbecoming of the defence minister to have made a handwritten note of support minuted to the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) chairman. Third, having caught in the mess with the revealed said letter of support circulated in social media, trying to cover up with awkward justification blew the whole episode into a national scale laughingstock.      
Ismail Sabri was not correct, in trying to justify his action, to say that his deputy could have appointed his own son to the board of Pharmaniaga. He gave the impression that he and his deputy could direct the LTAT Chairman to appoint an individual to the board of Pharmaniaga. If true, that is bad governance. The fact is that board of directors’ appointments are recommended and made after vetting and recommendation by the Board’s Nominations Committee. The LTAT Chairman cannot direct the Nominations Committee to recommend any individual. Similarly, the minister of defence should not be involved, even by making the notation ‘Setuju’. There must be no political interference. 
Furthermore, quite a few companies under the LTAT flagship are public listed. Adherence to good corporate governance, fair and transparent appointment of directors, is necessary.  
Patriot would like to know who among other politicians, besides the deputy minister’s son, were recommended to the various boards under the Boustead Holdings group of companies. LTAT constituents are soldiers from throughout the country. They are neither politicians nor party members. As such, appointments to the boards of LTAT, Boustead Holdings and the overall group of companies should be qualified people who have the best interests of the soldiers at heart, not the interests of politicians and their supporters. 

There are enough veterans who have ventured into business and have the relevant qualification and experience to advance the companies’ business. Also, the Medical & Dental Corps would have veterans with expertise and technical experience to fill the board of Pharmaniaga. One such person is BG Dr Leong Weng Foon (Rtd), the first medical director and whose attributes include discipline, integrity, leadership, and the honour to have helped set up a military hospital.  
Numerous veterans left the service early and became planters. Many have climbed the corporate ladder to reach the pinnacle of corporate leadership in their respective international companies or became consultants to large international companies in the plantation business and are more than qualified to be in the board of Boustead Plantation. Among them are Capt Panirchelvam Velaithan PGB (Rtd), Capt Wong Kai Loen (Rtd), Capt Zakaria Ramli (Rtd), Lt Ng Ken Wah (Rtd), and several others. 
S/Sgt Richard Lye Wah has the envious success story in that he became the Managing Director of Outpost Uniform with twenty-three retail outlets nationwide. His success and business acumen in the retail line should be a welcomed contribution to the board of Pernama.  
Capt Thong Lye Heng (Rtd) has for years successfully built and delivered cargo ships. The board of Boustead Heavy Industries Corp (BHIC) would do good to use his expertise in its Littoral Combat Ship programme.  
The officers mentioned might not be generals in rank, which is supposedly a qualification to be a board member. By virtue of their expertise and business acumen and not by rank, which is valued by any business organization, they are qualified. 
There are many highly respected generals who had served the country with honour and integrity. They are colour blind, have no prejudice and see all as fellow Malaysians. They are exemplar of good leadership and patriotic virtues. They are also not yes-men. These are the generals who ideally be given chairmanship and board members of companies under the LTAT flagship.   
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd) 
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan