KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said it is important that the government take an inclusive and consultative stance by working with the Opposition as well as other societal stakeholders in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic.
The South China Morning Post reported him as saying that this includes NGOs and commerce chambers, among others.
“That we have done every year, but this year for the first time I actually engaged with all the political parties, even for the Budget. This time round, for the National Recovery Plan, we are still in the midst of formulating it and in fact it is going to be presented to Cabinet this week, and I have already started to engage,” Tengku Zafrul said in an interview.
He said hearing the views of the Opposition, NGOs, and others were crucial, and the meetings have been “very productive”.
“I had a meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with DAP, Lim Guan Eng, PKR and of course the other coalition partners as well within the government.
“They have come up with their ideas, some proposals, and it is good. I have met with parties from Sabah and various others. They all face different challenges in their constituencies and it is important you know, for people like me, especially, who is trying to draft and formulate this recovery plan, that we listen,” he said.
Adding that the parties and individuals he met with could be considered as frontliners, Tengku Zafrul said they have met with the people and as such are the touch points.
“I think it has been quite good, I am very happy they have been very open giving good ideas. I am going to continue this, this is not a one-off.
“In fact I am meeting some of them for a second time this week to try and better understand some of the proposals. I want to make data available to all because when they have data, they will get to give the right advice, and the right advice meaning good feedback that is relevant and updated based on the current situation,” he said.
When asked if there is any specific reason for reaching out to the Opposition, Tengku Zafrul said there are no reasons other than to speak his mind, as his focus is to jump straight into work.
“They know my focus with me doing this today is trying to ensure Malaysia recovers from the current crisis. So we do not waste time talking about politics and when we meet, we straightaway go down to business. They say this is what we need, this is what we need to do better.
“There is a lot of very constructive criticism given to me and to the government and this is important, I think. I think that this should continue and I am glad and I am quite excited, honestly, that the National Recovery Plan will also be debated in Parliament,” he said.
Tengku Zafrul stressed the importance of stability, as Malaysia has proven in the decades since its independence that it is politically very stable.
“This has obviously opened Malaysia for investments to come in. But going forward, the challenges that we face today, politically, like I said, are less than ideal.
“We need stability and I hope that going forward, the political parties can work together, especially during this pandemic where we are, like I said, facing a dual crisis. An economic crisis as well as a health crisis. What we do not need is a political crisis,” he said.