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KUALA LUMPUR: Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) has urged the Prime Minister to appoint a second finance minister to assist in strengthening the economy and implementing the government's ambitious transformation plans.
Its president Datuk William Ng said the Prime Minister has access to a vast number of potential talents, but three candidates would fulfill the above criteria, and among them would be Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Ghani.
He added that, as an Umno vice president, a former second minister, and a seasoned businessman, Johari would have the experience to get to work immediately from day one.
"With Anwar Ibrahim in the driver seat, the navigator in the form of a second finance minister could then help the PM to focus on both gathering good ideas and implementing them.
"The person should be able to command the respect of the business community – not only having a good grasp of concepts and issues, but also be seen as open to policy innovation and supportive of growth," he said in a statement.
According to Ng, the ideal candidate must also be seen as clean with no impending court cases, accepted by the various political factions, and able to work well with the civil service and the business community.
He said operating under the difficult economic climate, the country will need a whole-of-Malaysia approach to realise the aspirations of Ekonomi Madani.
He noted that the Prime Minister may also want to consider bringing in someone from outside the current cabinet, to complement his current team while not being constraint by political considerations.
Ng said a second candidate that would check all the boxes would be former deputy minister of international trade, Dr Ong Kian Ming.
"In his previous role, he has developed a strong working relationship with the business community and understands what's needed to move the economy forward.
"He has also had a stint at the Ministry of Finance and is familiar with the inner workings of the ministry.
"More importantly, he is among the few in the country with the intellectual capability for policy innovation and new ideas," he said.
Meanwhile, Ng said the third candidate that could fit the role would be Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, a former minister of finance and the current chairman of Bursa Malaysia.
He added that Wahid is well respected and genuinely liked among the business community, has the technical competence and experience to serve as second finance minister and the temperament that would work well with other stakeholders.
"The Prime Minister could also promote one of the two current deputy finance ministers to second finance minister and empower them to make more decisions on his behalf especially on routine, day to day issues," he said.
Ng noted that Samenta will continue supporting the government's efforts in transforming Malaysia's economy, and in raising the productivity and capability of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).