Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd had deviated from its original objective of helping the Bumiputera. [NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR]

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd had deviated from its original objective of helping the Bumiputera.

In an interview with business website Investvine, he also vowed to put an end to the high salaries for the heads of government-linked companies (GLCs).

He said this was because the Bumiputera who received shares had the tendency of selling them and enriching others instead.

"But along the way, Khazanah decided it should take all the shares for itself and if they are good shares, well, why not acquire the shares at the time of listing when the price of shares was very low and so they forget entirely about holding the shares for the Bumiputera.

"They decided that they should be holding the shares forever as a part of the government companies owned by the government," he was quoted as saying.

Speaking on Khazanah which was established in 1993 during his first tenure as prime minister, Dr. Mahathir said the firm was formed to hold shares for the Bumiputera until the latter possessed the capacity to purchase those shares.

Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying that Putrajaya would review the companies in which Khazanah has a stake in and sort matters to return the wealth fund to its original path.

"We need to agree with some of these companies to reduce the number (of shares held by Khazanah) and to a certain extent go back to the original intention of holding the shares allocated to the Bumiputera until such time when they can buy (them)," he said.

As for GLCs, Dr Mahathir said political appointees raking in high salaries would no longer head these firms.

"The salaries of these people (political appointees) are very high and they enjoy these high salaries without bothering whether the company makes a profit or not.

"We, on the other hand, want to put in professionals; and their salaries will not be very high. It may be slightly higher than civil service salaries, but if they perform then we will pay them bonus.

"If they don't perform they won't get the high income that they are getting now and we will change the management so that we appoint professionals whether they are party people or not. It doesn’t matter, but they must be professionals conversant with the business of the company," he said.

40 reads