March 25, 2016
“We need our institutions to be strong and independent”, says MEA President
by Alyaa Alhadjri
The Malaysian Economic Association (MEA) has pledged to stand together with civil society groups in defending the independence of key public institutions.
Its President Tan Sri Sheriff Kassim said this was because public institutions, such as Bank Negara Malaysia, could only perform their duties well when they are independent and seen to be independent.
“We need our institutions to be strong and independent, so that the people can be confident that whatever happens at a particular level, the administration of the country can continue as usual.That is very important for the people, so that they know they can depend on the public institutions to maintain law and order or perform their duties to manage the country’s policies,” said Sheriff when met after Bank Negara’s annual ‘Governor’s Address’, which was hosted by MEA.
Sheriff, who delivered the opening address, earlier touched on the importance of reforms to restore public confidence in independence of key institutions including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Judiciary.
‘We will push for reforms’
“We will push for reforms. We believe that recent events have made it critical, and necessary, to restore confidence in the integrity of our institutions,” he said during the event held at the Securities Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Sheriff did not refer to any specific event in his speech but Bank Negara Malaysia and the MACC are among the authorities investigating the RM2.6 billion donation scandal implicating Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
He also pointed out that Bank Negara Malaysia is mandated to take pre-emptive measures in facing challenges to the economy.
“The bank is empowered to take administrative actions against institutions under its purview.At the same time, we must ensure that other institutions are equally independent,” he said.
Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz (photo) said yesterday that the central bank is pursuing an “appropriate administrative enforcement action” against state investment fund 1MDB for failure to submit evidence that it was unable to repatriate US$1.83 billion in funds parked overseas.
At a press conference later, Bank Negara Malaysia Deputy Governor Sukhdave Singh reiterated the importance of public confidence in the central bank.
“We get our powers largely from the confidence of the public in the central bank,” he said.Asked for comment surrounding speculations on the successor for Zeti, Sukhdave said: “The head of the institution should have credibility to lead the central bank.”
“It is the government’s choice and I believe the government will choose who is best to lead the bank,” he added.
The Wall Street Journal had recently reported that Finance Ministry treasurer-general Irwan Siregar Abdullah is tipped to be Zeti’s replacement, raising concerns of political interference in the central bank. Irwan, however, has denied knowledge of the matter.