Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh’s appointment as the new chairman of the Securities Commission (SC) is a ringing endorsement of the 1Malaysia concept, and a reminder that all of Malaysia’s races have a part to play in its future.
Ranjit will now be the head of the nation’s capital market regulatory body, playing a vital role in supervising the health of the economy and its capital markets. He will also be the first non-Malay appointed to this position since the SC was created nearly two decades ago.
The importance of this appointment cannot be easily overstated. Prime Minister (and Finance Minister) Datuk Seri Najib Razak was clearly endorsing his 1Malaysia concept, and signaling to the nation as a whole that plum positions would be given in the rakyat’s best interest — which means by qualification, and not by race.
Ranjit, who takes over from Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar from April 1, had moved solidly up the ranks at the SC in his 18 years there, specialising in market supervision and oversight, strategy and risk management, financial policy and economics. He is also, as The Sun Daily noted recently, a leading expert in the field of securities regulation and is widely recognised internationally for his expertise in the regulation and development of emerging and developing markets.
As The Sun also noted, the financial economist and accountant is the chairman of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions’ group on secondary markets, has chaired an expert group on capital markets for a Financial Stability Board task force and has served as a member of the IMF’s expert group on governance of public sector agencies.
When combined with his sterling credentials and his avid embrace of both capital market liberalisation and Islamic finance, two goals near and dear to Najib’s heart. Both are policies with proven track records of success, choosing him became obvious.
Or rather, it is obvious to those who are looking for the best and brightest. The goal of any public office is not racial spoils or wealth or power, but rather service to the rakyat. The centrepiece of Najib’s time in office has been a focus on how Government can serve the people by bringing the best and brightest into Government, and then allowing them to cross-pollinate into the private sector. The “people first” portion of the 1Malaysia slogan implicitly recognises that without the best people in office, the rakyat will not receive the best service.
It is at this point useful to contrast Pakatan Rakyat’s approach — or more accurately, what we can divine of Pakatan’s approach, as the Opposition has not yet deigned to provide us a manifesto by which to divine its policy goals and practises.
Were PAS forming the Government, one would reasonably assume that only Malays dedicated to hudud law would be chosen for these tasks. Were DAP forming the Government, one might reasonably conclude that only Chinese need apply for these jobs. Were PKR forming the Government, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s extended family would enjoy jobs for life.
Yet this cannot be the way a mature, multi-racial democracy is run. We are on a rapid track toward fully-developed status, and we deserve not only those who represent the whole nation, we deserve those who will help us get there.
That is true regardless of race.
It would therefore seem logical to expect more high-profile appointments like this, as Najib continues to promote his reform agenda. It would also seem logical for Pakatan to remain silent at moments like these as it tries to find a coherent comment to make.
In the meanwhile, Ranjit and his fellows will continue to provide the results we have come to expect.