Wan Azizah didn’t want Chinese finance minister? What lies, says PKR leader

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PETALING JAYA: A senior PKR leader today dismissed claims that party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had not wanted an ethnic Chinese to be the finance minister.

Speaking to FMT, the leader who declined to be named said PKR was the only truly multiracial party, which could be seen from its leadership composition.

This followed a report by Singapore’s Straits Times (ST) quoting a Pakatan Harapan (PH) source who said Wan Azizah had wanted the finance portfolio for PKR. The source also claimed Wan Azizah had said a Chinese should not take the post.

On Saturday, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was named as finance minister in Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration, and would become the first Malaysian Chinese in 44 years to hold the position.

He had pledged to ensure that “no one is left out”, saying: “I’m Malaysian, I don’t see myself as Chinese.”

The PKR leader told FMT that the claims in the ST article were “completely fabricated and false”.

“We strongly believe that the finance portfolio must be based on ability,” the leader said, adding that PKR believed Lim, an accountant by training, was suitably qualified for the post.

“But we don’t appreciate the narrative and claims being made against PKR, painting us as troublemakers.

“We believe this report is part of a concerted attempt to drive a wedge between PKR and the people, and PH, to push us out of the pact.”

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya analyst Azman Awang Pawi said it would not come as a surprise if PKR had been hoping for its jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim to be given the finance portfolio as he was formerly a finance minister.

“The finance ministry is extremely important in politics. You can see how important the portfolio was to Umno in the Barisan Nasional-led government.”

But he said PKR should not worry about not getting the portfolio as Anwar could make changes once he becomes prime minister.

“Giving Lim the finance portfolio may not sit well with Malay conservatives, but they don’t have to worry as the Council of Elders will advise him.”

Azman was referring to the council comprising former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akthar Aziz, former Petronas president Mohd Hassan Marican, billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok and economist KS Jomo.

LGE: I’m Malaysian, don’t see myself as Chinese