Mahathir’s Return Puts the Fear into Malaysian Finance

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Euromoney, June 12 2018

New policies, new hope – the Malaysian election has lots of positives, but not for anyone who is seen as having been a Najib acolyte. For them, the axe is already falling. 

Despite public delight, there is a mood of some paranoia in Malaysian business and finance right now – and you can see why. Since the shock opposition election victory on May 9 restored 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad to power, deposing the party he once led, one person after another with ties to ousted prime minister Najib Razak has been removed from leadership positions in Malaysia’s key institutions.

And the big question for many is: who is next? Is it me?

Mahathir returned to power pledging to hold authority to account over the 1MDB scandal and other alleged corruption in Malaysian public and corporate life. Already it is clear that he and his coalition of opposition parties will go further – and that those who stood closely with Najib can expect to face removal.

This has already had serious ramifications for many of the most senior figures in Malaysia.

Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the central bank, resigned on June 6, just two years into what was supposed to be a five-year term. The black mark against Ibrahim’s name – apart from being a Najib appointee – appears to have been a RM2 billion ($501 million) land deal through which Bank Negara bought land from the Malaysian government; the new government alleges this money was used to pay some of 1MDB’s debts.

Several Malaysian news agencies have reported that the chief executive of Bursa Malaysia, the national stock exchange, is to be replaced. Tajuddin Atan’s tenure was in any case due to expire in March.

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Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Chris is a journalist specialising in business and financial journalism across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He is Asia editor for Euromoney magazine and has written for publications including the Financial Times, Institutional Investor, Forbes, Asiamoney, the Australian Financial Review, Discovery Channel Magazine, Qantas: The Australian Way and BRW. He is the author of No More Worlds to Conquer, published by HarperCollins.

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