PETALING JAYA: Electoral reform group Bersih says it is “disappointed” that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has also taken on the post of finance minister, and criticised the appointment of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as deputy prime minister.
Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said Anwar had reverted to a “bad practice” started by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, continued by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and “grossly abused” by Najib Razak, in holding the two important posts.
“It is akin to the two required signatories of a cheque being the same person,” said Fann. “It could not be that there aren’t enough capable people to be the finance minister.”
Fann said the appointment of Barisan Nasional chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as one of two deputy prime ministers further erodes Anwar’s credentials as a reformist and undermines his commitment to fighting corruption and upholding good governance.
Zahid, who is Umno president, has been charged with 47 counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
Twitter users also questioned Zahid’s appointment. Among the comments was one which said: “I thought anyone with ongoing (court) cases won’t be given Cabinet positions. Wasn’t that what PH was fighting for? I don’t know but to be honest, I totally saw this coming when I saw BN supporting PH.”
Fann’s views about Anwar and the finance ministry were also reflected among Twitter users.
One user, Frank Rohaizad, said “PM=Finance too much power. Not supposed to happen again” and added the hashtag “kabinet teruk” (horrible Cabinet).
In its 2018 general election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan had pledged that the prime minister would not hold another ministerial portfolio simultaneously after Najib of Barisan Nasional had held both posts. No other prime minister has done so since.
Another Twitter user Fazriq Aris said Anwar’s decision was not “good governance”, adding: “That’s why 1MDB happened the last time around. Hoping for a good check and balance from the opposition.”
1MDB was a government investment vehicle set up under the finance ministry when Najib was both prime minister and finance minister. He was later convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ jail on charges of corruption and abuse of power over funds linked to a 1MDB subsidiary.
Niza Bakeri meanwhile questioned Anwar’s decision to appoint DAP’s Nga Kor Ming as the local government minister ahead of Gobind Singh Deo and Yeo Bee Yin who have served as ministers before.