PETALING JAYA • As the three-month work of Malaysia's Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) wraps up its work, speculation is rife that its chairman, Tun Daim Zainuddin, could be appointed as adviser to the government to help young ministers settle down into their jobs.
Sources say the 80-year-old's experience in handling the civil service and the private sector could be tapped to primarily assist the new government for the next few months. He was finance minister twice in the previous Mahathir administration and is trusted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The five-member CEP led by Mr Daim was set up on May 12 and given a mandate of three months to advise the Pakatan Harapan government on economic and financial matters, as it was the first time that the former opposition parties had won federal power.
It was learnt that Mr Daim's new advisory role would be for a limited period to help some of the new Cabinet ministers, especially in their dealings with civil service matters.
"Many of the ministers are new and have not held big positions in the government before. Managing ministries is difficult, especially handling a civil service that has senior officers with long service," said a source.
In the Cabinet today, only Tun Mahathir and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had held ministerial positions.
Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng were chief ministers of Selangor and Penang respectively, and so had some experience with the civil service. Two of the newer ministers are below 40 years old.
"The rest of the Cabinet are new and do not have the experience in dealing with the civil administration. They sometimes make announcements without thinking them through, which has resulted in the backtracking of decisions," said a former top civil servant.
The other reason, the retired official said, is to tap Mr Daim's experience should the country go through an economic slowdown or a recession.
"In 1985, Daim was the Finance Minister when the country went through an economic crisis due to a global recession. In 1998, Dr Mahathir recalled Daim to assist him when the country was going through its worst-ever recession," said the official.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK