Report: Tussle between Council of Eminent Persons and Harapan leaders

24 Jul 2018, 4:11 pagi

Updated 2 years ago


The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), which was intended as an advisory body, is tussling with Pakatan Harapan leaders over the direction of government decisions, according to a report by Singapore's Straits Times.

The report, quoting government officials, said the CEP had effected important personnel changes in the government, including the resignation of the Bank Negara governor, two top judges and the position of Dewan Rakyat speaker, for which PKR and DAP reportedly wanted a different candidate.

It said the extent of cull and restructuring, overseen by CEP member Daim Zainuddin, had led to a pushback from Harapan leaders.

Bersatu deputy policy and strategy chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan was quoted as acknowledging that there had been discussions on the role of the CEP, not only among ministers and party leaders but also among senior government officials.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said the CEP will only last for 100 days but the report said there were concerns the council could now remain beyond that time frame.

"Mahathir has to be careful about not overplaying Daim's hand as a troubleshooter, but then again, can Mahathir even stop someone like Daim?" a senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Johan Saravanamuttu, was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.

The report also cited concerns from the business community, quoting Eurasia Group's Asia director Peter Mumford as saying: "The CEP reduces the cabinet's role to some extent, raising the risk of policy confusion and concerns about parallel administrations. Investors want to avoid having two finance ministers and have clarity over who is calling the shots".

The Straits Times added that there was speculation that the CEP had also asked Khazanah's top management to resign, and proposed to move the entity to the Prime Minister's Department.

It added that Daim had also disagreed with the renegotiation of the LRT3 and MRT2 projects, favouring instead an outright re-tendering.

However, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced a renegotiated LRT3 deal that will see its cost cut from RM31.45 billion to RM16.63 billion.

The report also quoted a Harapan leader as saying that the cabinet's decision to approve Lim's proposal over Daim's indicated that Mahathir was not entirely on the same page as Daim.