No thanks, says Anwar on becoming finance minister in troubled times

 Anwar Ibrahim (second from right) presenting a mock cheque of US$250,000 to Deputy Rector (Academic and Industrial Linkages) Prof Isarji Sarudin (second left). With them are IIUM Endowment Fund director Mohd Razif Mamat (left) and Muslim intellectual Dr Yaakob Mirza.

GOMBAK: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today admitted his reluctance to be finance minister at a time when the country is in dire financial straits.

Anwar noted that the country’s past and present economic situation could not be more different and that back then, the government had a certain amount of funds.

“If I were offered (the post of) minister of finance now, I would not serve because unlike now, we had a lot of funds before.

“Back then, the (GDP) growth was 10%. Now, it (projected growth) is 4.5%,” he said at the launch of the AbuSulayman International Student Fund at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) today.

Anwar was finance minister under Barisan Nasional (BN) rule from 1991 to 1998. During his tenure, the country was hit by the Asian financial crisis, one of the worst in decades.

In 1998, the country’s economic growth reached as high as 9.4%. Economists have projected the country’s growth this year to be 4.5%.

Anwar said he understood why Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng could only give a standard reply on giving funds.

“’We will look at it, we cannot approve now, and we can consider to approve later’. This is the standard reply, because we are facing financial constraints. We will therefore require the efforts of many friends and colleagues here and internationally (to improve the situation),” he said.

At the event today, Anwar, a former IIUM president, presented a mock cheque for US$250,000 (RM1,032,910) for the fund, to be managed by the IIUM Endowment Fund.

The amount was contributed by former IIUM rector Abdul Hamid AbuSulayman.

The fund is aimed at easing the financial burden of foreign students in IIUM.

“US$250,000 is a good way to start this fund. Let me assure you that I would also do my part,” Anwar said.