Mahathir okay with Shafie holding Sabah finance portfolio

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears agreeable to Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal holding the state finance minister portfolio despite his repeated statements in the past that it is wrong for the prime minister to also be the finance minister.

Asked on the apparent contradictory stance, Mahathir simply said, “The Sabah CM is not the PM”.

Shafie is president of Parti Warisan Sabah, which is allied with Sabah Pakatan Harapan.

The alliance formed the state government after winning 29 state seats in the May 9 polls and securing a majority in the 60-member state assembly with the support of several Barisan Nasional assemblymen.

Yesterday, Shafie dismissed criticism that there would be a conflict of interest with him holding the position of state finance minister.

“If one does not have any interest in mind, why should others question the motive for this?” he said at a press conference.

He said unlike his predecessor, he intended to manage the economy better, being an economist himself.

Shafie said as finance minister, he would not be directly involved in approving projects, as there would be a new centralised body in place to vet and approve contracts and policies.

He said he would also appoint a council of elders – similar to what the federal government has – comprising former civil servants, corporate leaders and experts in fields necessary to help the government.