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The axe man cometh

"Execute or be executed" reads the mantra from Khazanah on its plans for the reform of the government-linked companies (GLCs) under its control. Amid talk of performance contracts for top teams, there is evidence that the implied threat indeed has an explicit outcome.

Since the appointment of Dato' Azman HJ Mokhtar as managing director at Khazanah, the axe has fallen on incumbent boards and management at Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Telekom Malaysia, Proton and Malaysia Airlines System (MAS) among others.

That is not surprising given the performance of key Khazanah-controlled GLCs to date, which has been pedestrian at best. Azman will have his work cut out turning what are perceived as sleepy monoliths into cutting-edge businesses that can compete internationally, yet he is confident that the worst is behind him. "In June, we had a one-year review explaining what we've achieved, he says. "I'm quietly satisfied that we've stabilized the situation. As we're heading out of the wartime restructuring, we've started to identify key things that needed to be done, operational and strategic changes."

Not everyone is convinced that the war is over. Some question whether the recent appointments are the right ones. "Personally the jury's out," says a local banker, "I'm not convinced that these new young Turks have the loyalty of the employees.

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