Should Anwar also serve as finance minister?

Having previously earned accolades for his role as finance minister, should newly sworn-in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim take up the post of controlling the treasury as well?

(The Sun Daily) – Economist Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez said it would be highly improper for a prime minister to take up both roles.

He said history has shown that assuming both positions simultaneously does not end well for a nation, and riddles it with financial scandals.

He added that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad started a trend when he appointed himself finance minister when disagreeing on policy matters with several previous (finance) ministers, including Anwar.

Gomez said this trend, which was followed by Mahathir’s successors Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, left checks and balances in government wanting.

He added that controlling both positions was seen to have resulted in scandals such as those involving 1MDB, Tabung Haji and Felda, all of which came under the purview of the Finance Ministry.

“When Pakatan Harapan assumed power in 2018, it made sure the prime minister did not take up the post of finance minister.

“This was a very important reform. There will be too much power held in the hands of one person if this recurs.”

However, economist Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai believes it would be best for the nation if Anwar assumes the role of finance minister as he has extensive experience in the area and excelled in it in the 90s.

“He should be assisted by Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli as his deputy, and perhaps another deputy could be appointed as well, to meet such a demanding role.”

On a possible conflict of interests affecting integrity and accountability if Anwar took up both roles, Barjoyai said Anwar had a high level of credibility and would not abuse his position.

“What I notice about Anwar is that he is a team player and not a dictator. Currently, he faces a challenge in lining up the Cabinet as it is a unity government.

“He has to please everyone, including fellow members of his party and those who make up the government.

“Anwar has said that he has not considered taking up both roles as he does not want to seem like he is greedy for positions.”