Malaysian finance minister threw into prison twice by PM Mahathir

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, center, waves next to newly appointed Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, left, after a press conference to announce his cabinet members in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Saturday, May 12, 2018. Mahathir has appointed the ethnic Chinese as finance minister, the first ethnic minority to hold the powerful post in 44 years. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Vastavam web: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s finance minister, relatively unknown in international financial circles, is a man he threw into prison twice.Mahathir announced three top cabinet posts on Saturday, including Lim Guan Eng, a former banker and chartered accountant, as finance minister. It is for the first time in 44 years that the finance ministry is being headed by a member of the ethnic Chinese community.Lim, 58, is best known in Malaysia for being the chief minister of Penang, the second richest state in the country and home to a popular tourist island and industrial port.

But economic analysts say he may need more than that at a time when the country has to make sweeping economic and fiscal reforms and reassure markets that the political change will not have an economic impact.Malaysian markets have been closed since the election, but overseas investors have been nervous of what lies ahead because of Mahathir’s populist promises.“His initial focus will be mostly domestic issues – executing campaign promises and reducing inefficiencies so that the government can still maintain fiscal discipline,” said Hasan Jafri, who heads Singapore-based business consultancy HJ Advisory.

But he added: “He will have to work quickly to broaden ties with the international financial community.”Lim would likely be guided by the government’s newly appointed five-member advisory team, which includes former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin and central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, both of whom are well known overseas.“By almost all accounts… Guan Eng did a stellar job in rebuilding the finances of Penang,” said Oh Ei Sun, senior adviser for international affairs at the Kuala Lumpur-based Asia Strategy & Leadership Institute.