BEIJING • The services of Malaysia's Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) are still needed, and Tun Daim Zainuddin will continue to head the advisory group, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday before ending his five-day visit to China, Tun Dr Mahathir said he had not given the CEP a 100-day timeframe, adding that he still has a dire need for its services.
"I never mentioned anything (about) 100 days; I want him (CEP chairman Mr Daim) to be there," he said, when asked to comment on Mr Daim's statement that the council's 100-day mandate is officially over.
On Monday, Mr Daim, who served as finance minister twice under Dr Mahathir, announced that the council's last day was on Sunday and everyone in the council had gone back to their respective jobs.
"As far as we are concerned, we have completed our task. The mandate is over.
"Including the secretariat, we are all volunteers," Mr Daim said, declining to comment on whether the council had been disbanded.
He added that he will make an appointment with Dr Mahathir on his return from China to see what role he has in mind for the council.
The CEP, also known as the Council of Elders, was set up on May 12, three days after the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition toppled the Barisan Nasional government in the election.
Its primary role was to advise the new government on economic and financial matters, and help it achieve pledges that PH had promised to fulfil within its first 100 days of power.
With PH being the first opposition pact to take over Putrajaya, many of its elected leaders were first-time MPs and ministers.
Dr Mahathir said then that the five eminent Malaysians on the council would provide vital "knowledge or previous knowledge of administration", with the new government having "little or no experience in running a government".
Last Thursday, Dr Mahathir said that the council would continue to function beyond the 100 days to help him manage the government.
Besides Mr Daim, the other council members are former central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, state oil company Petronas' former chief executive Hassan Marican, Hong Kong-based Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok and economics expert Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
The council has given advice on scrapping the goods and services tax, reviewing mega projects, investigating troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad and restructuring government-linked companies.