In Malaysia, politicians never retire but continues to enjoy life and what have you till they drop dead.
Recently retired minister of information, Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, has been appointed chairman of not one but three companies. Abdul Kadir, an Indian Muslim but recognised as a constitutional Malay, is from Kedah state and was once aligned to Abdullah Badawi in Team B that failed to topple Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Abdullah is now the Prime Minister, thanks to Dr Mahathir.
Abdul Kadir, who resigned on Feb 14 less than 24 hours before he was to be sacked by Abdullah, will lead Karambunai Corp Bhd, FACB Industries Inc Bhd and Petaling Tin Bhd.
He replaced Tengku Zainal Adlin as chairman of Karambunai while the chairman of FACB, Sulaiman Sujak and chairman of Petaling Tin, Jaafar Abu Bakar were demoted as deputy chairman in favour of Abdul Kadir.
Jaafar and Sulaiman should have resigned instead of agreeing to be demoted. But, resignation is something that is very rare in Malaysia, either in the political arena or the corporate world. The incumbents will hold on to their posts until and unless they were either forced to do so or for legal reasons.
Abdul Kadir's appointments, with the blessings of Abdullah Badawi, in a way was in bad taste. Why? Well for the simple reason that it indicated that Malaysia lacked qualified and suitable candidates to be chairman of listed companies or government-linked corporations.
Malaysian politicians, especially those associated with the ruling party, UMNO in particular, were appointed to sit as chairman or directors of listed companies, state owned corporations, port authorities, semi-government corporations and government-linked companies.
Most of them were not qualified professionally to be where they are. Men and women with no knowledge of the rubber industry, for examaple, were appointed to sit as board members of companies and corporations dealing directly with the industry, or someone ignorant of the transport sector appointed to sit on the board of a transport company and so on so forth.
What the government is doing is no better than letting the sewer rat to repair the pumpkin.