©The Sunday Star (Used
By Shahanaaz Habib and Izatun Shari
KUALA LUMPUR: The top brass of government–linked companies (GLCs) came under fire for their no–show at an economic congress here aimed at moving Malays forward in trade and business.
Several delegates made caustic remarks against the absent CEOs, questioning why they were not present at the Jihad Ekonomi Melayu (Malay Economic Struggle) congress.
One delegate quoted a CEO as saying at a recent meeting that he did not “give a damn” about replacing his Malay suppliers with non–Malay ones.
Another delegate rapped a GLC chairman for refusing to give an appointment to see him “for even a minute”.
The two–day congress, which ended yesterday, was jointly organised by the umbrella body Gagasan Badan Ekonomi Malayu (Gabem), Umno Youth and the Muslim missionary foundation Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi opened the gathering on Friday.
On the same night, Gabem chairman Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik headed a forum attended by representatives of Khazanah Nasional, Telekom Malaysia (TM) and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), which gave a token presence of the GLCs at the gathering.
Responding to the criticisms against the GLCs, Umno Youth leader Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and his deputy, Khairy Jamaluddin, agreed with the delegates that the CEOs had not taken the congress seriously.
Speaking to reporters after presenting a paper on Paradigm Shift and the Malay Agenda, Khairy said it did not give a good impression of the GLC top guns when they did not show up at the event in which the Malay prime movers of the economy were present.
“We are insulted,” he said, adding that since it was an important congress and opened by the Prime Minister, the CEOs should find the time to come.
To a question, he said: “To be frank, I feel they look down on initiatives like this because it comes from the grassroots, the (Malay) Chamber of Commerce and Umno.”
When it was suggested that the CEOs were all his friends, Khairy said: “If they were my friends, they would have come.”
Hishammuddin, who closed the event, told reporters that the CEOs could have rescheduled their appointments to be with the Malay entrepreneurs.
Asked whether he was as upset, he said: “I am merely reminding them (the CEOs).”