‘PM’s decision should be respected’

KUALA LUMPUR: While a corruption watchdog voiced its concern over Nurul Izzah Anwar’s appointment as senior economics and finance adviser to the Prime Minister, her political aide insists there is no element of nepotism or cronyism in the appointment.

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) said the decision by the Prime Minister to appoint his daughter to a post in his office could leave negative implications to the country’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

Her aide Amir H. Ghazali on the other hand, said that Nurul Izzah’s appointment was the prerogative of the Prime Minister and should be respected.

TI-M president Dr Muhammad Mohan said the appointment could give rise to the issue of conflict of interest and nepotism.

“Our view is that it gives the wrong signal and if not rectified, it will be a factor that will show up on the CPI,” he said when asked of his views on the appointment.

Nurul Izzah had revealed in an exclusive interview with Sunday Star that she had been serving as senior adviser to the Prime Minister since Jan 3.

Muhammad pointed out that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim himself had previously spoken out against nepotism and the appointment of his daughter to the post would give rise to the perception that nepotism has crept back into the country.

He however maintained that he was not questioning Nurul Izzah’s capabilities or her integrity and had direct personal dealings with her when she was a member of the Parliamentary bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“I was called up to answer some questions on corruption barometer. Of all the lawmakers in PAC who asked questions, she was very sharp and asked a lot of good questions,” he said, suggesting that the Prime Minister relook his decision.

Amir was confident the appointment was carefully discussed and had taken into account various elements prioritising effectiveness in implementing various national agenda.

“After all, Nurul Izzah is not a chief executive officer (CEO) or a chairman that has any authority to approve project and tenders.

“There is no issue of nepotism or cronyism in the unity government administration, if such an appointment is made for the benefit of the country,” he said.

He questioned why the appointment was considered as a practice of nepotism.

“I would like to stress again, that whoever that will be appointed, even if it’s their own children, is the prerogative of the Prime Minister that must be respected and cannot be questioned,” he said.

Nurul Izzah’s appointment drew criticisms, including from Perikatan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who asked Anwar to relinquish the finance portfolio and had also advised Nurul Izzah to step down.

The appointment had also raised questions within PKR, with its Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim expressing his views that while it is “legally right, it (the appointment) is morally wrong.”

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