Three reasons why it’s honourable for Tengku Zafrul to resign as minister

Letter to editor

THE title of this letter has nothing to do with the fact that Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz was re-admitted into the Cabinet of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim-led unity government via backdoor despite having lost in the 15th General Election (GE15).

Such shamelessness has become the norm in Malaysian politics.

Neither has it anything to do with his dismal performance as finance minister – a portfolio he held under two prime ministers (PMs) – before being made the International Trade and Industry Minister by Anwar under the current government.

Or the fact that Zafrul has recently been appointed to the UMNO supreme council where he has stated his intention to vie for a spot there during the upcoming party elections.

The decision somehow demonstrates his lack of political acumen – and by extension his intellect and moral judgement given how the party has been roundly rejected by the electorate, and more so after it joined forces with archnemesis, the DAP.

Why he should step down

Tengku Zafrul should resign because he’s not in line with Anwar. There are three incidents to prove this:

The first is the alleged misappropriation of funds disbursed during the pandemic under the various stimulus and aid packages. Anwar has revealed that some RM300 mil had been misappropriated. As the finance minister then, Tengku Zafrul is a key figure in the scheme of things.

His current boss has now said that something is not quite right and there were suspicious leakages that has led to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probing into the saga.

The second reason why Zafrul should call it a day in the current Cabinet is the proposed tabling of the White Paper on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. While the medical aspects of the procurement did not fall under his jurisdiction during his MOF (Finance Ministry) days, billions of ringgit was involved in a process that involved the MOF’s oversight.

According to Anwar, the purchase was not made according to procedure, including no signing off by the Attorney-General (AG). Worse still, the then Government tapped into the National Trust Fund (KWAN) for the purchase which was supposed to be a kitty for future generations.

Thirdly, the Jana Wibawa scandal has implicated Tengku Zafrul. Berita Harian has reported that he is a suspect in the rural developmental project where RM5.7 bil has been disbursed. The programme started during the previous government whereby Tengku Zafrul was the finance minister.

These three incidents show a yawning disconnect between Tengku Zafrul and his boss Anwar. The latter has listed down a series of lapses where Tengku Zafrul is implicated – if not directly – then by association.

In any organisation, the subordinate would have done the honourable thing by resigning to distance himself or herself from such damning allegations.

Besides, by not resigning – or at least taking leave – the authorities are unable to carry out their probes without fear or favour. This goes against the fundamental principle of good governance and that of politicians having not only to be clean but also be seen to be clean.

Even among thieves, there’s honour. But not in Malaysia where political expediency trumps integrity. – Feb 20, 2023


Thirumugam Muthusamy

 The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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