Malaysia's special economic task force made up of experts including CIMB head Nazir Razak

Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, chairman of CIMB Group Holdings.
Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, chairman of CIMB Group Holdings.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's emergency economic committee that will deal with the freefalling ringgit and investor flight will consist of 10 members, including the Prime Minister's younger brother, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, who has been critical of  1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the debt-laden state investor whose advisory board is chaired by the Malaysian leader.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 26) that the Special Economic Committee (JKE) to develop immediate and medium-term plans to strengthen Malaysia's fundamentals will be chaired by Economic Planning Minister Abdul Wahid Omar and will include nine corporate figures.

Besides Mr Nazir, who is chairman of Malaysia's second-largest bank CIMB,  the other experts include Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, managing director of sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional; Maybank CEO Datuk Sri Farid Alias; Datuk Seri Dr K. Govindan, group chief executive officer of ratings agency RAM Holdings and Prof Datuk Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali, vice-chancellor of National University of Malaysia.

"The decision to form the JKE is based on the government's need to develop and implement immediate and medium-term strategies and action plans to ensure Malaysia continues to grow," Datuk Seri Najib said.

The committee is to meet at least weekly on issues such as the value of the ringgit, financial market stability and investor confidence. It will report directly to Mr Najib.

The ringgit has been Asia's worst performing currency for the year, sliding over the past year to a 17-year low of 4.24 to the US dollar as of noon on Wednesday, and cumulative net foreign outflow from Malaysian equities was at RM11.7 billion (S$3.87 billion) for the year up to end July, far in excess of the RM6.9 billion for the whole of last year.

The Malaysian Prime Minister himself has come under increasing pressure due to a controversial US$700 million (S$980 million) in political funding  that was reportedly deposited into his personal bank accounts.  

His younger brother Nazir has become increasingly vocal on current issues this year, singling out the 1MDB management for stinging criticism over what he said was a lack of accountability in the RM42 billion debt it raised in just five years of operations.

Various allegations of misappropriation of funds linked to 1MDB have been a lightning rod for calls for Mr Najib to resign, but the Prime Minister has denied any abuse of state funds.