Ramasamy opens a can of worms on poor management in Penang’s state machinery

THE wake of the Penang Development Corporation’s (PDC) land sale controversy, I have suggested for the restructuring of leadership in the PDC management. A state government GLC (government-linked company), PDC is entrusted with the core business of land development in Penang.

Recently, when the question was posed to Chief Minister (CM) Chow Kon Yeow who is also the PDC chairman about the need to revamp PDC, he replied that I (Ramasamy) should have undertaken the task when I was the human resource committee chairmen of PDC.

Yes, I was the chairman of the PDC human resource committee entrusted with the responsibility of selection and recruitment of PDC staff and its subsidiary companies for 15 years or three terms.

In the first term, Chow as member of the executive council (EXCO) was not a director of the Board. He might not know how and the manner I streamlined the recruitment procedures to enable PDC to have a balanced employment.

My primary concern was that state government agencies should to some extent reflect the population composition of Penang. Some balance was called for.

CM’s prerogative

This balanced policy enabled the recruitment of both Malays and non-Malays based on the criteria of merit. Such a policy was also implemented in the Penang Water Company (PBA) and some extent in the two local governments.

Of course, as expected there were resistance to the policy but over the years, it brought some degree of balance in the recruitment of candidates in the state agencies.

I was in charge of recruitment but certainly not in the restructuring of the state agencies such as PDC or PBA or others.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow

Changing or removing the top leadership was the prerogative of the CM in consultation with the relevant agencies. It was up the CM to give the direction if there was need to restructure the top leadership of the state agencies.

Truth to be told, long before Chow became the CM in 2018, the PDC management was noted for its lethargy and unresponsiveness. There was no end to the complaints from the private sector of the performance or non-performance of the PDC.

Compulsory land acquisition on the basis of reduced rates has bugged the PDC over the years to the extent of giving rise to legal suits.

In fact, after Chow became the CM I suggested to him to recruit Lee Kah Choon as CEO for a particular duration. I thought given Lee’s legal, administrative and knowledge of the functioning of the PDC, he would have been an ideal candidate to be the PDC head honcho.

However, Chow did not respond to my suggestion. I hope Chow remembers this proposal from me and not selectively use his memory. The problem with Chow is that he is not prepared to disturb the bureaucracy of the state agencies including the PDC.

Don’t find scapegoats

The PDC management due to the recent land deal controversy badly needs rejuvenation. Is Chow prepared to do this or finds it convenient to blame others?

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

In so far as the restructuring of the PDC leadership, it has to be a collective decision involving the PDC board, the state EXCO and the pivotal role of CM himself.

It is the CM who should be giving the policy direction Is Chow prepared for this? I was in- charge of recruiting but not to the extent of undertaking the revamp of top leadership in the PDC or any other state agencies.

It was certainly beyond the scope of my functions as the chairman of the PDC human resource committee.

I understand that Chow is under pressure due to the PDC’s controversial land to Umech Land. Recently, the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) used derogatory terms against him for failing to rein the PDC management on the controversial sale of land to Umech Land in Batu Kawan industrial zone.

Instead, Chow used the last-minute unauthorised change of share ownership as the reason for the termination of the land deal. But the problem was not just the change in share ownership alone but the land deal between Umech Land and PDC.

Although the controversial land deal has been terminated, questions keep on mounting. It certainly serves no purpose in blaming me or others for the current state of affairs in the state.

I would like to remind Chow that the fault is not in the distant stars but in ourselves. Chow should restrain himself from blaming others for the present mess. He should be reminded that the present rot is not in the proverbial Denmark but the PDC! –  Oct 19, 2023


Former deputy chief minister II of Penang and ex-Perai state assemblyman Prof Ramasamy Palanissamy was also a former Penang Development Corporation (PDC) board member.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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