In his media conference in Subang yesterday on his return from the Group of 15 Summit in Jakarta, Mahathir’s curt answers and body-language were most eloquent and expressive that he would not expect Daim to stay in the Cabinet and was in fact expecting Daim to have announced his resignation already.
To the question on speculation that Daim would be resigning the same day, Mahathir said: "I don't know. Did he say it?"
When pointed out that the report was mere speculation, Dr Mahathir in jest said: "Oh, it's speculation... I never comment on speculation."
Asked whether he had received any indication from Daim, stating his intention to retire, Dr Mahathir said: "So far, there's nothing."
On looking back at the events of the past two months and Daim’s “bizarre” leave of not attending the Cabinet but going to his office in the Finance Ministry, I believe that Daim never applied for “leave” but was put in a spot by the Prime Minister to go on such a “bizarre” leave.
Be that as it may, whatever the failure in the chemistry of the two persons leading to the break-up in the long political/economic partnership between Mahathir and Daim, what really concerns Malaysians is whether the departure of a Finance Minister famous as a Minister for Bail-outs and Buy-outs would be followed by the abandonment of a policy of bail-outs and buy-outs involving billions of ringgit of public funds whether by companies or government-linked funds like the Employees’ Provident Fund and the Pensions Trust Fund and the beginning of a new policy of financial accountability, transparency and good corporate governance.
The sad truth is very few people believe that Daim’s exit portend such a long-awaited reform.