During an UMNO general assembly last week, a Bagan Wanita UMNO delegate Hamidah Arshad had questioned why a Chinese had been appointed CEO and general manager of SP Setia Bhd.

“GLCs (government-linked companies) belong to us, but why are we giving them (top positions) away to other races? Who will help our own race? Whose fault is this? It’s ours,” she commented.

In response to that question, economist Firdaos Rosli stated in Free Malaysia Today (FMT) that racial quotas for companies can only work “if the right talent is available to fill the relevant high level management positions”.

“If you want to have quotas it’s fine but it must be compensated by the right talent. Quotas are there to allow companies to pick and choose but you don’t want to choose a leader with an incomplete skill set,” he said.

He also added that GLCs needed to determine how they’d like to operate, whether like government agencies or companies. “If they want to make profit, then they should prioritise finding the best talent instead of having quotas,” he commented.

Adding to that, veteran economist Yeah Kim Leng noted how racial quotas were not feasible for modern day businesses, highlighting that even in highly nationalistic societies, companies were hiring people of different races and nationalities.

Using Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn as example, he presented how even an automotive giant is “looking to hire the best talent from around the world.”

“When we are looking for the best leaders to run a company, we should not restrict our search based on race, religion or nationality,” he said.

Also a professor of economics at Sunway University Business School, he concluded: “The company benefits, the employees benefit, and when the company grows, more job opportunities are created.”

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