MARCH 15 — On the front page of Tuesday’s Sin Chew Daily was NFCorp boss Mohamad Salleh Ismail claiming trial to four charges, while on the front page of the same day’s Business Section was Ranjit Ajit Singh replacing Zarinah Anwar as the chairman of the Securities Commission upon the expiry of the latter’s service contract.
These two incidents are unrelated to each other in any way, but they put two women side by side for comparison, reflecting two very different political attitudes.
Zarinah’s job is to oversee all public-listed companies in this country. Her husband Azizan Abdul Rahman, chairman of public-listed E&O, was embroiled in allegations of insider trading.
Although Zarinah was not herself involved, and was not a member of the investigation panel either, she has become inevitably implicated, even as many in the industry believe she had no knowledge of the deal at all.
Zarinah did not choose to shun her responsibility or fiercely defend herself. It has been rumoured since the very beginning that she was ready to step down in a bid to prove her innocence and accountability.
Her attitude has safeguarded the integrity and prestige of the job function of an overseer, and has consolidated SC’s equitable and independent image.
Her performance during her tenure as the SC boss has won acclaim among people in the industry, and her graceful exit has added some degree of esteem in the industry.
Her departure has set herself as a role model whereby an overseer must transcend any conflict of interests, and once traces of such conflicts are spotted, they should make clear-cut cleavages, including sacrificing their own careers to uphold the integrity of the public office.
Public interests should come ahead of personal gains, and Zarinah has thus received a great deal of respect from the public while the SC retains public confidence.
Shahrizat, the lead woman in the cow-gate incident, offers a glimpse into a completely different story. Because of her recalcitrance, the government has to put in additional effort to fix things up.
Back to the SC, Ranjit Ajit Singh, who is bound to take over Zarinah’s place after her departure, is known for his impartiality and broad experiences in market monitoring.
Notably, he will become the first non-Bumi chairman of the regulatory body.
While many previously agreed that Ranjit was the ultimate candidate to take the helm of SC, some felt his non-Bumi status could at best land him some secondary role.
Customarily important posts such as the SC chairmanship have been inarguably reserved for Bumiputeras. The same goes for other senior government officials, CEOs of GLCs, chancellors of national universities, etc.
The appointment of Ranjit as SC chairman has breached such a universally accepted social contract, showing that under true meritocracy, even a capable non-Bumi can assume a lead role in the public sector.
The change-of-guard at the SC has highlighted two exceptional paragons in our political culture, something we can really look forward to. — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.