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Concern over reappointment of Zahid's daughter, son-in-law to public-listed firms

Publish date: Wed, 07 Dec 2022, 11:37 AM

The reappointment of Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid as chairman of MQ Technology Bhd (MQ Tech) and her husband Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff as president of Jiankun International Bhd has sparked negative reactions from the public who have urged the government and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to look into the matter. 

Much of the concern is over the possibility that their appointments will trigger a conflict of interest, given that they are the daughter and son-in-law of Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

Their appointments, effective Dec 5, were announced by the public-listed companies on Monday, when Zahid was named as one of two deputy prime ministers in the new Cabinet. 

"It's strange, the appointments were made after Zahid Hamidi was sworn in as DPM," said Twitter user @najibfazail, who also uploaded a screenshot of the companies' announcements on Bursa Malaysia. 

Facebook user Muhammad Uzair meanwhile said: "She is the DPM's daughter. Don't argue. If our father were the DPM, we could get it too." 

Nurulhidayah previously held the position of vice-chairman at MQ Tech while Lim Char Boo was named as chairman on Nov 29, 2019 following his reappointment from the position of independent director. 

Meanwhile, Saiful's reappointment followed his installation as deputy executive chairman two months ago. 

He owns 21 million shares or 8.58% interest in Jiankun after emerging as the main shareholder in August.

On Monday, Jiankun shares hit a one-year high, jumping 13% to 29.5 sen while MQ Tech shares rose 27.27% or 1.5 sen to seven sen.

However, the performance of both companies' shares declined slightly the next day as Jiankun closed down 7.14% or 2 sen to 26 sen while MQ Tech shares fell 7.14% or 0.5 sen to 6.5 sen.

Members of the public, especially social media users, have been urging Anwar to ensure that the companies do not receive "special treatment" from the government. 

"Datuk Seri @anwaribrahim, please take immediate action regarding this issue," Twitter user @AhmadFakhrul said in the comment section of a post showing MQ Tech's announcement of Nurulhidayah's appointment.

"@anwaribrahim better walk the talk about clearing up corruption. Don't let the public see these companies receive any form of govt contract. If anything they should exempt themselves completely," added user @lfc_eddie.

"Salam @rafiziramli @anwaribrahim please have a word with the DPM... don't rush so much into the Umno attitude," user @MaisarraAnuar said in the same thread. 

Twitter user @zach1ZA meanwhile said the appointments made it appear as though intended reforms could not be fully implemented. 

An economist from the Putra Business School told MalaysiaNow that the couple's appointments would not be an issue if the companies did not have shareholdings by government institutions like KWAP or Khazanah. 

Razman Abdul Latiff said the appointments would make it difficult for the companies to obtain tenders chaired by Zahid as they would have to ensure no conflict of interest. 

Even so, he said, the matter had become a topic of debate as there was still potential for conflict of interest to occur. 

"For example, if either company tries to get a tender from a ministry that does not involve Zahid – this is allowed, but we won't know what goes on behind the scenes," he said. 

"This is what has made many angry – the potential for conflict of interest is there." 

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