CEP report — of Asean car, ECRL and more court cases

Council says damage in governance is pervasive and need significant reforms

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By TMR

Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said the third national car project will likely be an Asean car that is funded by the private sector.

The details of the proposed new national car project by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been a point of public debate since it was announced last month. Daim, who was the former finance minister twice under Dr Mahathir’s first 22-year tenureship, expects the car to be regional-based.

“The PM’s idea is not so much to have a national car. It is to make sure that we have the system to face the future and the future is in manufacturing. The automotive sector alone employs 700,000 people. We have to update our skills.

“When we are positioned to produce not a Malaysian car, but an Asean car, the private sector will invest, not us. That is my understanding,” he told reporters at a briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The CEP is expected to present their 100-day report and recommendations to the PM following his trip to China.

Commenting on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Daim maintained his position that the RM81 billion rail project is “unfeasible” and that the cost is simply too high.

“I have advised the government and let them think it over. Any private sector companies that think they can make money out of the project, let them do it. The revenue has to be more than the operating cost.”

On institutional reforms, Daim said the CEP’s 100-day evaluation revealed that the damage in governance is pervasive and will need significant reforms.

He expects more people to be held accountable for corruption under the previous administration. So far, only former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak has been put to task for alleged misconduct on government funds.

Daim expects more people to be charged for misappropriating funds in government agencies and related companies after due investigation has been made.

“In order to charge in court, you have to investigate. Before this, there was no investigation. The last 100 days were on that and there must be a priority. We have the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police. I believe the priority is for us to target certain individuals first. We have so far gotten the former PM and soon, maybe a few more.

“We need foolproof evidence, otherwise the rakyat will say, look, you don’t even know how to prosecute and

this will be very bad for the government. If you want to prosecute, you need to be at least 90% confident,” he said.

Apart from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, the government is also looking to probe into mismanagements at the Federal Land Development Authority and pilgrim fund Lembaga Tabung Haji. Both agencies have seen some shifts in their top management since Pakatan Harapan’s election win in May, with two political appointees removed.

Besides the federal agencies, the government will also have to initiate reform initiatives at its ministries due to the great distrust in government machinary. To this end, the CEP said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is most important.

“The most important is the MoF. The ministry must bring in money and make sure that the expenditure is not wasted. There must be no corruption and don’t politicise the civil service,” Daim said.