NEWS ANALYSIS BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
OCTOBER 04, 2013
Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar of Khazanah Nasional: Winner of Frost & Sullivan’s ‘Global Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership’. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 4, 2013.
Slowly but surely a groundswell of anger is building up among Umno politicians, bloggers and civil servants against the latest crutch of the Najib administration: the reliance on consultants, from crafting public policy to the mundane job of preparing power point presentations to managing the back office of government agencies.
In fact in some circles, there is a genuine fear that the government and state asset manager Khazanah Nasional Bhd have basically outsourced thinking and operations to the likes of McKinsey and Co, Boston Consulting Group, Frost and Sullivan, Ernst and Young and others, setting into motion a bunch of troubling questions.
Will this slavish reliance on consultants lead to even further dumbing down and mediocrity of the civil service?
Why are Khazanah Nasional and government-linked companies hiring consultants for even back office functions when they have thousands of employees on their books at top-dollar salaries?
There are consultants linked to every top job in Malaysia. Iskandar, education blueprint, economic corridors, the five-yearly economic plans, high-speed rail to Singapore, election strategy, branding, etc.
And the push back from the ruling party and civil service to the outsourcing of Malaysia has started.
A survey of Umno supporters and civil servants by respected pollster Merdeka Center showed that there is growing antipathy towards the use of consultants by the government.
It showed 42% of those polled felt that the Najib administration consultants often contribute less than what is expected of them.
Another 30% were ambivalent about the contribution of consultants.
In small group discussions with members of the academia, the independent pollster found anger against government efficiency unit Pemandu palpable, with university lecturers dismayed at having to take orders from greenhorn consultants with no clear insight as to how the real world operates.
The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the recent revelation about McKinsey charging RM20 million for the National Education Blueprint has led to questions about the number of consultants and their bills being filed in the Dewan Rakyat.
It is also understood that the several MPs have asked the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to scrutinise the charges against the impact of the studies or analysis done by the consultants.
Prominent pro-Umno blogger Syed Akbar Ali posted his comments on the matter yesterday, noting that Frost & Sullivan had expanded from 10 people in its Malaysian office in 2000 to 120 this year, with most of its clients being government agencies and firms.
“The company had sales of US$45 million (about RM140 million) last year. Profits about US9 million (about RM28 million). I think they have found their El Dorado here in Malaysia, inside the Khazanah dunggus bank accounts,” Syed Akbar wrote in his OutSyed the Box blog. Dunggu is a colloquial Malay word for idiot.
He also wrote that Frost & Sullivan was to open an office in Iskandar Malaysia, which is run by Khazanah Nasional. He added that the consultancy had boasted that it could be its largest office globally with 830 personnel by 2020.
Syed Akbar also pointed out that Frost & Sullivan gave an unknown award called the “Global Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership” to Khazanah Nasional managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar during the latter’s visit to San Francisco where the sovereign wealth fund has opened an office.
“And it is so easy to please the dunggus. Just give them some plasticky ‘Global Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership’ and they will hand over all our cash,” he said. – October 4, 2013.