Anwar’s decision to hold finance minister post due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’: Malaysian economic minister
The decision was tough because various parties in the unity government wanted the finance minister post to be on their side, said Rafizi Ramli.
PUTRAJAYA: The decision by Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to concurrently hold the finance portfolio was a “suitable” one considering the “extraordinary circumstances” in his unity government, said Economic Affairs Minister Rafizi Ramli.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference on Monday (Dec 5), Mr Rafizi said: “In my opinion, it was a tough decision to make actually. Because it was likely that the various parties who form the government wanted the finance minister post to be on their side."
Mr Anwar’s unity government comprises of Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, which he leads, Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
Mr Rafizi, who is also the Pandan member of parliament said: “For example, if someone from PH was appointed finance minister, it could be a problem for BN. And if it is someone from BN, PH might not be happy."
“As it’s an extraordinary situation now, this is a suitable decision at this point - that the prime minister be finance minister so the appointment doesn't become an issue for the different coalitions.”
However, Mr Rafizi reiterated his position that the prime minister post and the finance minister post should be kept separate. He also expressed hope that the current government would do this only as a temporary arrangement.
“That stand has not changed. I do not believe that just because of this current situation, we are desperate and we take that position - that this should continue. The situation is extraordinary,” said Mr Rafizi.
“But I hope as we move forward, and we put everything in place, the decision (for the prime minister to also be finance minister) will prove to be an exception rather than the norm,” he added.
Former prime minister Najib Razak, who also served as finance minister from 2009 until 2018, was convicted for the misappropriation of RM42 million from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). BN was voted out in the 2018 polls amid public anger over the scandal.
Last Friday, Mr Anwar unveiled his Cabinet line-up which includes two deputy prime ministers - BN’s Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and GPS’ Mr Fadillah Yusof.
Mr Anwar’s leadership team comprises 28 ministers, which is leaner than the recent Cabinet teams helmed by Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Mr Muhyiddin Yassin. The list of deputy ministers has yet to be announced.
In a statement issued last Saturday, Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin slammed Mr Anwar’s new Cabinet line-up, describing it as the “most disappointing in the nation’s history”.
Mr Muhyiddin said that by appointing kleptocrats into the Cabinet, Mr Anwar has sacrificed the principles of good governance which he promoted during the 15th General Election (GE15) campaign.
The Pagoh MP also criticised Mr Anwar for taking on the finance portfolio, adding that doing so will erode investors’ trust in his leadership.
Speaking to reporters after taking his oath of office, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid called on all sides to set aside their political differences so that the new unity government can work to serve Malaysians.
"We need to prioritise the people to create stability in the country to lure back foreign investors and encourage DDI (domestic direct investments)," said the BN chairman.