Tengku Zafrul a dark horse for finance portfolio in Anwar’s unity gov’t?

WITH the Cabinet line-up of newly minted Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim can be unveiled as soon as this afternoon – whether fully or partially – a surprise may be sprung in that Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz make a comeback via the senatorship route to fulfil his unfinished business as finance minister.

Citing sources, the New Straits Tines (NST) said although PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani have been earmarked as favourites for the custodian of the nation’s coffers role, the finance minister post “could instead go to Tengku Zafrul”.

“Tengku Zafrul was finance minister under PMs, namely Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob,” contended the mainstream newspaper. “The source claimed that while Rafizi and Johari could get their own portfolios, it may not be on finance.”

While Rafizi is renowned for his scandal-sniffing ability, Johari was the former finance minister II during the administration of incarcerated ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Rafizi Ramli

A chartered accountant, Rafizi is the founder of both whistleblower organisation National Oversight and Whistleblowers Centre and election volunteerism organisation Invoke Malaysia.

Coincidentally, Johari, 58, is also a chartered accountant. He shot to fame while helming fast food restaurant chain operator KFC Holdings (M) Bhd and QSR Brands Bhd in the late 1990s.

Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani

He is currently the largest shareholder in CI Holdings Bhd and KUB Malaysia Bhd, and is the second largest shareholder of Media Prima Bhd with a 20.1% stake.

As for Tengku Zafrul whose track record over the past two year as finance minister (in the aftermath of the Sheraton Move defection from March 2020 to the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10) is for everyone to judge, he lost his ‘direct ticket’ following the defeat to former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad in the contest for the Kuala Selangor parliamentary seat during the 15th General Election (GE15).

One thing for sure nevertheless is that Tengku Zafrul’s predecessor and DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng would not be featured in Anwar’s new federal cabinet.

The Bagan MP, according to NST, will be omitted in favour of his DAP comrade and party secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook who may yet again be a contender for the transport minister role, a position he also helmed during the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

Interestingly, Loke may be in contention against his nemesis and successor Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who is also the MCA president for the transport portfolio.

Elsewhere, all eyes will also be watching if Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun will make a comeback as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker when the election of the Dewan Rakyat Speaker gets underway on Dec 19 – the first item on the agenda when the lower house of Parliament convenes.

This is considering that former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff could make a comeback in the role.

“Another (speaker) candidate is (UMNO supreme council member Datuk Seri) Azalina (Othman). If she does not get to be the speaker, she may get a portfolio (in the cabinet),” added NST. – Dec 2, 2022


Main pic credit: Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s Facebook

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