Rafizi slammed for saying PM best person to be finance minister

Critics have raised questions about good governance and hypocrisy, given the economy minister’s previous objections to past holders of dual portfolios.

(FMT) – Critics have slammed economy minister Rafizi Ramli’s defence of the prime minister holding the finance portfolio, citing the possibility for abuse of power.

Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism CEO Pushpan Murugiah said the finance ministry and the prime minister’s office must be kept separate as both hold significant influence.

“(The finance ministry) has access to the financial structure of the country, including the extensive network of GLCs, while the (prime minister’s office) controls regulators such as the politically appointed attorney-general and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC),” Pushpan told FMT.

He also reminded the government to learn from past scandals like 1MDB to prevent similar abuses of power recurring. Najib Razak, who has been implicated in the case, also helmed the finance ministry while in office.

On Wednesday, Rafizi rejected Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s assertion that the positions of finance minister and prime minister should not be held by the same person.

Rafizi believed Anwar Ibrahim is the best person to run the finance ministry to ensure procurement is kept above board.

Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal said Rafizi’s statement showed the government had failed to carry out the reforms PKR had once called for as the opposition.

“What’s strange is that for a year we’ve known their true colours. Reform has died for the sake of power,” he said.

PAS’s Pendang MP Awang Solahuddin Hashim agreed, noting that Rafizi had lambasted Najib for holding dual portfolios.

“Besides Pakatan Harapan, no one else can (hold both portfolios). Only PH can – that’s PH’s style of reform,” Awang said.

However, Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood of the National Council of Professors said that as the prime minister is accountable to Parliament for both roles, governance issues should largely be avoidable.

That said, Anwar and his Cabinet are also answerable to voters and the optics of holding both posts could prove damaging, he said.

“The public’s perspective is crucial in this matter. If the people perceive the prime minister performing the finance minister’s role as unfavourable and conflicting with the principles of good governance, then the prime minister should consider their views,” Nik Ahmad said.