Frankly Speaking: Jakarta’s gain?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 10, 2018 - December 16, 2018.
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Last week, Datuk Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), announced that she would be relinquishing her position on Jan 15 next year after more than four years at the helm.

Many are asking why she is leaving not only MDEC but also the country to pursue a role with a tech venture in Jakarta, Indonesia. What went wrong?

In June, Yasmin voluntarily went on leave for six weeks pending an investigation into an MDEC project, Asean Data Analytics Exchange, aimed at building talent and an ecosystem around big data analytics.

The investigation was initiated by the Communications and Multimedia Ministry after concerns were raised about a conflict of interest between the programme managers and training providers.

Nevertheless, in mid-July, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) made it clear that no element of bribery or misuse of power was found in its investigation into Yasmin.

But how is one expected to stay on as CEO after such a widely publicised investigation, which could be perceived that the bosses — in this case the government — do not trust you.

The many rounds of interrogation and time spent with the authorities in such investigations can be taxing, especially if it involves incarceration pending a charge. Often, news of an official being charged is played up but there is little publicity when the accused is found not guilty and acquitted.

That raises the question of whether MACC investigations should be made public in the initial stage of an investigation.

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