(Malacca, Tuesday): The failure of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister, his take-over of another Cabinet post of Finance Minister and the appointment of a new Bank Negara governor completely without banking experience are unsettling and not helpful in restoring confidence to overcome the worst economic crisis in the nationís history.
Mahathirís statement this morning that UMNO will decide on his successor from the vice presidents should anything happen to him is most unsatisfactory, and shows lack of confidence in handling the political crisis arising from the shocking and unprecedented sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
Mahathirís personal take-over of the post of Finance Minister is also quite unbelievable - as this would mean the concentration of powers in the hands of one person in a manner completely unprecedented in Malaysian government in the past four decades.
Mahathir is not only Prime Minister, Home Minister but now also Finance Minister. Are we gravitating towards a one-man government?
The appointment of the Economic Planning Unit Director-General Tan Sri Ali Abu Hassan Sulaiman as Bank Negara Governor is also most unprecedented. Ali has no banking experience whatsoever and although he would undoubtedly be 100 per cent Mahathirís man in the Bank Negara, the question is whether that is the sole qualification for the important post of Bank Negara Governor?
Although Mahathir early this morning claimed success for his drastic capital control measures as seen from record rebound of the Kuala Lumpur stockmarket in the past four days until yesterday, staging one of the biggest comebacks the world has ever seen, with the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) Composite Index rising by 70.5 per cent since Malaysia imposed controls to shut out short-term speculators on September 2.
Malaysian stocks surged 22.45 per cent yesterday to close at 445.06 points, up 81.62 points as compared to the end of trading the previous day, amid frenzied buying across the board.
However, the fragility of this stock market rebound is shown very clearly by the unprecedented 21.5 per cent plunge or a 95.50 point drop in todayís KLSE CI, raising questions whether the capital control measures could ensure a sustained economic turnaround and recovery or that the Malaysian economy will be the worse after a short-term rebound.