‘I am a technocrat, not a politician’

Amir Hamzah: I am focused on helping put Malaysia on firm economic footing

PUTRAJAYA: Two months into his role in one of the most important ministries in the country, Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan (pic) says it has been an interesting transition to a government role.

After spending more than two decades in the corporate world and having helmed the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) before being appointed Finance Minister II last December, he said he was focused on helping to put Malaysia on a firm economic footing.

He said the efforts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in introducing the Madani Economy Framework and the rolling out of new policies were to lure more foreign and domestic direct investments.

“I am here to help him (Anwar) work on a lot of things that a government has to do, and taking the load off his day-to-day duties and following through on everything so that he can spend more time on policy matters and provide leadership to other ministries,” Amir Hamzah told Bernama recently in his maiden media interview since taking office.

Asked about his appointment, the 57-year-old revealed that he was approached to take on the role several months before the announcement was made.

“I had not said yes for a while because this was a big decision.

“This is a very public role, and in the end, I am not a politician; I am a technocrat.

“I know what I am good at and I know what I can contribute.

“But I do not compromise about reminding people that I am not a politician. I am not fighting for any seat because it is not in the family DNA ... most people know that my father was in the civil service,” said the son of the late Tun Azizan Zainul Abidin, who was president and CEO of PETRONAS between 1988 and 1995.

Asked how he was adapting to his new role, Amir Hamzah said there had been no honeymoon period for him.

“As you know, I have been a busy corporate man for a very long time before transitioning into a government role,” he said.

He pledged to keep doing his best to help the Prime Minister steer Malaysia towards a better future, and did not discount making unpopular decisions for the sake of the country.

“I think the value of a technocrat is the ability to say and do what is right for the country... sometimes it can involve making difficult decisions, but if the decision is unpopular but necessary, then one has to do it.

“Because you must think of what is important for the long-term benefit of the country.

“If nobody wants to make those decisions, then our children and grandchildren will have to pay the price for it, and I don’t think we should compromise their future for our needs today,” he added.

On his social media engagement, Amir Hamzah said he was not active on it at the moment.

“I don’t mind using social media platforms to update the government’s announcements or what we are doing in MOF,” he said.

Amir Hamzah joined the EPF – the country’s largest pension fund in terms of asset management – as CEO in March 2021.

Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Tenaga Nasional Bhd from April 2019 to February 2021 and held several senior management portfolios throughout his career in the corporate world.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in management (majoring in finance and economics) from Syracuse University in New York, and also attended the Stanford Executive Programme at Stanford University and the Corporate Finance Evening Programme at the London Business School.

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