“Please don’t consider corporate sector echelons as future finance minister”

AS newly minted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim cannot himself assume the finance minister portfolio as that runs afoul of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) very own policy, he should at best appoint an existing MP for the post instead of “outsiders”.

This is because Malaysia not only has a track record of underperforming finance ministers who were tapped from the private sector but “(they) are very bland and bring (more) harm to the country’s economy”, according to veteran journalist and blogger Datuk A. Kadir Jasin.

“If ever there is a need to consider doing so, it is mandatory to investigate and scrutinise their background and performance, especially those who were second finance ministers in previous governments,” he proposed in a recent Facebook post.

“It is mandatory to check the Securities Commission Malaysia’s (SC) records if they are involved in commercial crimes such as insider trading, money laundering and so on.”

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin

Kadir cited as examples the many irregularities and manipulations involving billions of ringgit of the rakyat’s money as evident in the purchase of shares of Eagle High Plantations in Indonesia by FELDA whereby FGV Holdings Bhd suffered a capital loss of over RM2 bil or wastefully using GLIC (government-linked investment companies)/GLC (government-linked company) money to build skyscrapers.

Interestingly, the former Bersatu supreme council member went on to give a chronological account of corporate figures who underperformed as finance ministers:

  • During the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi transition period, there was the late Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis whose extraordinary wealth was revealed in an inheritance suit by his own mother. He was the second finance minister before being made the science, technology and innovation minister.
  • The Abdullah era saw the emergence of “wunderkinder” Tan Sri Idris Jala who sold the property of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in an asset unbundling scheme. He was originally an executive of the Shell company that managed the Middle Distillate Synthesis (MDS) plant in Sarawak. Look at what happened to MAS after all its assets were sold and later forced to merge with AirAsia?
  • During Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s time, there were Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar and Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani. Abdul Wajib is remembered for famously saying that the 1MDB’s business model was not sustainable after the RM1 bil scandal involving Najib exploded.

Then as Chairman of Perbadanan Nasional Bhd (PNB), he was involved in the construction of Menara 118 which was estimated to cost RM6 bil. What returns can be expected for PNB and the investors of the various mutual trust schemes managed by PNB is unclear. Since April 2020, he has been the Bursa Malaysia Bhd’s chairman.

As for Johari who became the second finance minister at the height of the 1MDB scandal, Najib did help his close friend from Indonesia, Peter Sondakh, by urging FELDA to acquire Eagle High Plantations Tbk. As a result of the transaction, FELDA incurred a paper loss of RM2 bil.

  • Then during the reign of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, “we have Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz whose record of achievement or failure is there for all to see”.

“In conclusion, I appeal to Anwar and his confidants who are organising the formation of the Cabinet not to appoint corporate people whose track records are suspicious. If unsure or confused, kindly ask someone who knows,” Kadir pointed out.

“All parties in the unity government should nominate a MP who is knowledgeable, crime-free and has integrity. If Anwar says that the appointment of a Cabinet member is not a form of reward, all parties in the unity government should not treat that as a threat.” – Nov 28, 2022

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