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It all started with FM appointment

  • If we were to put things right again, we've got to start from the very source of all the evils.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

If there is one thing that has a "wow" factor, I may possibly change my mind and vote for you.

This thing needs no expensive propaganda and can generate a powerful multiplier effect. All Malaysians irrespective of race and class will offer their full backing, I assure you.

What I want to propose is that any future prime minister must solemnly pledge to the rakyat that he will not double up as finance minister, nor will his deputy or any political leader.

The finance minister job should be delegated to a non-partisan professional with credibility and integrity.

I can say with confidence that the money politics in this country took its root in the appointment of the prime minister's cronies as finance ministers and then himself as FM.

Mahathir appointed Daim Zainuddin as FM in 1984, followed by DPM Anwar Ibrahim, before he himself took over the job, signaling the start of the downward spiral in Malaysia's financial system

Through the powers of the FM, cronies received huge government contracts and business monopolies. The same trend has extended beyond Mahathir until this day.

I'm not here to dig further into past history; nor am I trying to criticize any side.

All I wanted to say is that if we were to put things right again, we've got to start from the very source of all the evils.

Since Pakatan Harapan is so critical about government-linked corruption, it must therefore pledge that once it takes over Putrajaya, it will have to institute the change right there!

I would like to propose that PH openly pledge that its prime minster will not be finance minster as well.

Imagine if Mahathir is back at the PM's Department in Putrajaya and doubles up as the finance minister, this notion alone will send many people sleepless.

While his cronies will be too excited to go to sleep, the rakyat will have a hard time going to sleep out of fear!

Going further, the FM candidate must not be the leader of any political party but must be one from the professional field, one with credibility and integrity.

For instance, PH can consider appointing Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram as FM. Prof Jomo has been a lecturer at local and foreign universities and was UN assistant secretary-general for economic development. An internationally acclaimed economist, he is vocal on the government's economic policies.

If PH insists to abolish GST, then its FM has to explain why GST must be abolished and how the government can make up for the resultant RM43.8 billion tax shortfall.

If PH feels that we should not take in massive investments from China, then the FM must expound how mega infrastructural projects can be implemented in the absence of Chinese investments.

Of course there are other viable options besides Prof Jomo. But most importantly, a clear line must be drawn between politics and economy to avert possible hijacking of the country's financial policies by political powers.

In a similar manner, if BN wants to regain public faith, it must state clearly that Najib, Ahmad Zahid or any other BN leader will not be the next FM.

BN must promise that the job will only go to a financial expert commanding good reputation and that the government will not have a hand in his financial decisions, like what it did in the past with Idris Jala and Abdul Wahid Omar as ministers in the PM's Dept.

A professional and independent finance minster will not be controlled by any political party and will not serve political cronies but the general public. He or she will be the custodian of the national treasury, the chief planner of government resources and architect for the country's economic development.

A professional and non-partisan FM will make sure things like 1MDB will not happen again. This is one important redemption Najib and BN must do post-1MDB.

I believe if BN were to undertake such a promise, votes will return in its favor. This is going to be way more effective than making generous allocations and cash handouts.

Even PAS must assure the voters it will appoint a capable and competent professional to run the country's finances.

Even the most conservative voters will not believe a religious cleric can manage the country's finances properly. PAS leaders remain very much religious people who can hardly convince the public the party can improve the country's economy if it wins the election.

Eradicating money politics and restoring sound financial management and public confidence towards the government will have to start from the appointment of a completely independent professional as finance minister.

 

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