|Isa: Runs FGV like a political party|
Isa Samad, the former Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan who was found guilty of money politics in Umno, is chairman of both Federal Land Development Authority, or Felda, and the public-listed Felda Global Ventures. His was a political appointment, meaning he was put there by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Felda was formed by an Act of Parliament to help the poor in rural Malaysia and today is made up of over 112,000 settler families, largely Malay-Muslims, in nearly a quarter of the country's total parliamentary constituencies.. FGV, on the other hand, is the world's third-largest plantation company in an increasingly challenging global industry. Isa was made chairman of Felda at a time when Najib was planning to revive a 2003 idea by Mahathir Mohamad, then the PM, to make it a public listed company. FGV was the result of that effort.
I can't boast of no personal interaction with Isa Samad and I can't help notice how controversy and scandal and crisis have dogged the man. Clearly, they have followed him to Felda and now FGV. And clearly, also, at least to me, Isa Samad does not have the knack to nip these issues in the bud. The appointment of Emir Mavani as President and Group CEO, for example, has been an issue on the blogs since May this year. Isa Samad's response only came in today after the mainstream media questioned Emir's credentials and speculated an early departure.
Where was Isa between May and now? Why did he think it was not urgent enough to defend his candidate for the President and Group CEO post in FGV?
My take is, Isa Samad runs FGV like a political party. Or like Felda. The people I have been speaking to said that just won't do. FGV needs its own Chairman who is not a politician or, if he is, does not have the kind of baggage that Isa Samad carries with him. When Isa Samad was telling people to allow Emir Mavani and FGV focus on its business, he should have done more to stop the Emir-bashing in the media - including the new media.
Nothing personal, but if this is how the Chairman of FGV is going to deal with matters, it doesn't augur well for the public listed entity. I therefore agree with the people who have been telling me: FGV deserves its own Chairman. In fact, even Felda may do better with another individual at the helm, if they ask me.