Think tank pours cold water on Nurul Izzah's appointment

PETALING JAYA: When the Prime Minister appoints one of his daughters, especially one who recently lost an electoral battle, as senior advisor for economics and finance, it does not only sound like nepotism, but also a cause of concern for the future of the economy, says a think tank.

Centre for Market Education (CME) chief executive officer Dr Carmelo Ferlito said the appointment of Nurul Izzah Anwar (pic) as senior economics and finance advisor to the Prime Minister contradicted the reformist policies and change preached by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Unity Government.

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Ferlito, who is also a senior fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), said Anwar's move to take the position of Finance Minister also contradicted his own previous statements.

"Many observers noted that such an interim position sacrificed the appointment of capable people with popular consensus, such as Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, while the International Trade and Industry Ministry was entrusted to Tengku (Datuk Seri) Zafrul (Abdul Aziz), in continuity with the previous Cabinets and against electoral signals," he said in a statement Monday (Jan 30).

Ferlito also highlighted that "little attention” had been given to the implementation of a sound economic policy agenda.

"CME has, in particular, observed over the past few weeks, that several statements by the Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli were controversial and demonstrated poor understanding of economic theory and reality.

"Furthermore, such statements sounded more like moral preaching rather than practical and implementable policy proposals, which are necessary to tackle the economic downturn, which CME has warned since mid-2021," he added.

"The political movement and support around Anwar has been historically associated with words such as 'reformasi' and 'bersih', meaning that his campaign and communication strategy is linked with the promise of a new and reformist (style), which is at odds with corruption and nepotism," Ferlito added.

"Nurul Izzah studied engineering and international relations and does not possess any specific background in economics or finance - a background that should be a must for advisors and counsellors.

"She clarified that she will get no salary for the job. But there is a big misunderstanding.

"The actual cost of politics paid by the rakyat is not the cost of salaries, but the consequences of bad policies," Ferlito said.

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Bad policies, he said, although guided by good intentions, can ruin a nation.

"We have seen this with price ceilings or the ban on foreign workers.

"Malaysia has not much time left to solve structural issues and to get ready for the economic challenges that are about to come," he said.

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