Frankly Speaking: Best man for the job

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 1, 2019 - July 07, 2019.
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In Malaysia, it is not unusual for an individual to wear multiple hats at various organisations. In Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh’s case, there is little doubt that he is the best man for the chairman’s post at the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), taking over from Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, who just resigned after 11 months on the job.

After all, Bakke, who starts as FELDA chairman on July 1, was group managing director of Felda Holdings Bhd from December 2005 to 2009, when he was made group president and CEO of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (now FGV Holdings Bhd). FGV is the commercial arm of the poverty eradication agency set up in 1956.

Bakke joins FELDA with years of experience in the palm oil sector, having just retired — on June 30 — from Sime Darby Plantation Bhd after nine years.

It is also worth noting that Bakke was appointed chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in July last year for a two-year term.

MPOB is the “premier government agency entrusted to serve the country’s palm oil industry”. It is tasked with promoting and developing national objectives, policies and priorities for the well-being of the palm oil sector.

Should Bakke step down as MPOB chairman now that he is also FELDA chairman? As MPOB’s extension and training unit serves the oil palm sector’s smallholders, including FELDA settlers, there may be a conflict of interest between Bakke’s two roles.

The potential for this was less apparent when Bakke was at Sime Darby Plantation, given that it is a corporation. But things could be different with his move to FELDA.

While Bakke may be the best man to be chairman of FELDA, surely there are others who can chair the MPOB?

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