KUALA LUMPUR: The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) today announced that it has completed its mandate and will be submitting its recommendations to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad when the latter returns from China.
“The recommendations in this report touch on the need to improve governance, the need to improve well-being of the rakyat and the need to ensure the sustainable growth of the economy,” Daim Zainuddin, who heads the CEP, said at Menara Ilham here.
“There are no quick fixes to the problems that the CEP has identified and many challenges still lie ahead. The government and the rakyat must be ready to make and accept difficult decisions for the long-term benefit of Malaysia.”
The former finance minister said the mandate for the council was 100 days and yesterday was the last day for the CEP.
He joked that he would now like to take some rest after the completion of the report.
“I am not going to get involved unless it is something urgent for a particular project.
“And if the project is for the sake of national interest,” he said, adding that his involvement should be on project basis.
He said the report was completed with the help of young volunteers who sometimes worked after midnight, adding that the volunteers would have to go back to work.
“When he (Mahathir} comes back I will consult him what is the role he has in mind,” he said, referring to the prime minister’s announcement that he would still need the services of the CEP.
Daim maintained that the CEP’s role is advisory, even in matters concerning China.
“Our role is to study, analyse and make recommendations. I’m not sure if any of the recommendations will be used.”
He added he could not reveal the recommendations as they were bound by the Official Secrets Act.
“I hope all our recommendations will be made public, but it’s up to the government.”
Daim said there were a lot of” “shocks” in looking through the agencies and government-linked companies (GLCs).
“Too many shocks. I have a strong heart. Work is done now. We have completed our mandate.”
Daim said some of the recommendations would need changes to the law. He added it was now up to the government to carry out what was necessary.
While declining to comment on the number of recommendations made, he revealed they were more on education and creating a professional society.
“Issues are complex. Almost like gang robbery,” he said without elaborating.
Asked about the CEP’s influence on appointments of heads of GLCs, Daim said the CEP had nothing to do with it as that was entirely the government’s decision.
“What power do we have? Other than gather information, analyse and recommend?
“We tried to factor in PH manifesto promises in coming up with the recommendations.”
Mahathir announced the establishment of the CEP after being sworn in as prime minister on May 10, saying it was needed to stabilise a government of inexperienced ministers.
The CEP comprises former finance minister Daim, former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas CEO Hassan Marican, tycoon Robert Kuok and economist KS Jomo.
Daim also touched on several issues:
On the cost of the ECRL
The cost is simply too high. The project as it stands is not viable. I have advised the government and let them think it over. Any private sector (companies) that think they can make money let them do it. The revenue has to be more than the operating cost.
On what needs to be reformed
The ministry of finance. It must bring in money and make sure revenue is not wasted. No corruption and don’t politicise the civil service.
On taking legal action on former ministers
The “rakyat” must be patient. To charge, one must first investigate. The present priority is to make sure certain individuals are targeted first. You must ask the attorney-general if he is ready to prosecute them. Yes we want to see those guilty prosecuted but must have evidence first.
On the third national car
The prime minister’s idea is not so much to have a third car but to improve the manufacturing sector. That is where the future lies. The future is in electrical and driverless cars and people should be trained to study the components as there is a lot of research to be done.
On the next prime minister
Pakatan Harapan already decided that it is to be Anwar Ibrahim.
On allegations that he is behind campaign to stop Anwar from becoming prime minister
I don’t get involved (in other parties).