Najib to expose all-male boards 

Malaysia says it will expose companies with no women on their boards next year, warning that the employers risk losing government contracts.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said during a speech on women and the economy that 35 per cent of top management posts in the public sector were held by women.

In Malaysia women make up 14 per cent of board members, according to a Deloitte study of boards in 44 countries.

Malaysia came top in Asia, compared with Japan, where 4 per cent of board members are women, and South Korea with 2.5 per cent.

There are just three female ministers in Najib’s team: below 10 per cent.

Najib might be trying to boost his standing ahead of the next general election, which might take place this year. He has been tainted by the corruption scandal of 1MDB, the Malaysian state investment fund that the US Department of Justice alleges has had US$4.5 billion stolen from it.

Potential witnesses in the scandal were afraid to speak to US investigators as they feared for their safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported.

1MDB, also being probed in Switzerland and Singapore, was set up by Najib in 2009 and he served as chairman of its advisory board until last year. He denies all corruption allegations.

In a federal court filing in Los Angeles, the FBI asked for the names of its informants to be kept secret, after many expressed concerns of retaliation if they were found to have been in contact with the US authorities.

Najib also this week launched the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana), aimed at promoting arts and “cultural economy”.

“If you want to build a civilisation, then the core of that civilisation is in the form of the arts and culture. That is the soul of the nation, of the civilisation and without that soul, what do you get? “You get high rise skyscrapers, you get physical infrastructure, but you don’t have the soul and we want the soul,” the embattled prime minister said.

Najib said the agency would be led by cultural leaders, rather than politicians or civil servants.

Chief executive Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin announced: “The establishment of Cendana demonstrates exciting times ahead for the arts in Malaysia. One of the most critical step that Cendana will undertake is to assess where we are as an industry, and then articulate a plan on where we want to be.”

More Malaysian women are needed in management. Picture credit: Wikimedia