Muhammed Abdul Khalid’s post as advisor ‘due’

The appointment will allow him to ‘keep an eye’ on Dr M, says an academic

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS

THE appointment of Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid (picture) as the economic advisor to Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has received the backing of an academic fellow.

University Malaya (UM) political economist Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez — author of a new study entitled “Government in Business: Diverse Forms of Intervention” published by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) — said Muhammed has been a known advocator for the poor.

“He is a man of utmost integrity. He wrote a great book called ‘The Colour of Inequality’. If you listen to his speeches, he is a great defender of the poor. Yes, he is the brother-in-law of Tun Daim Zainuddin, but let’s judge him on what he did,” Gomez said in his presentation of the IDEAS report in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“I will give Muhammed his due,” he added.

Gomez said the appointment of the former Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) director will allow him to “keep an eye” on Dr Mahathir.

“It is not a bad idea to have someone whose heart is with the poor sitting next to the PM whose heart is in business. Dr Mahathir has been a PM who has been truly enamoured by business. It is good to have someone like Muhammed next to him to help the PM pay attention to the rural poor,” Gomez said.

According to him, the problem of wealth inequality among the Bumiputeras has hit critical levels, which proved that while “well-intended” policies have been created, their implementations were poor.

Muhammed’s appointment as economic advisor was announced last week and came into effect on Monday.

Muhammed, a trained economist with over 20 years of experience in various economic and financial sectors, was previously head of economics at the Securities Commission Malaysia and a senior analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Prior to his current position, he led the Council of Eminent Persons’ (CEP) secretariat, and was the MD and chief economist at DM Analytics Malaysia. He has also served in various positions for the United Nations.

A doctorate degree (magna cum laude) graduate from Institut d’éstudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris), France, Muhammed also has a master’s degree in economics from UM and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, US.

Muhammed’s best-selling book, published in 2014, provided an alternative insight to the debate on inequality in Malaysia. It focused on the distribution of wealth or assets instead of income. In his book, he argued that despite the country’s rise in national income, the wealth gap is alarmingly high and extremely skewed.