Frankly Speaking: Who’s the next Bank Negara governor?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 11, 2018 - June 17, 2018.
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The search is on for a new governor for Bank Negara Malaysia, with Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunos strongly tipped to take over from Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, who resigned last week.

A former deputy governor, Nor Shamsiah is the best person for the job for several reasons, a key one being that she is already familiar with much of what the role entails, having spent many years with the central bank.

That she is qualified for the role should not be questioned. Recall that she was one of three internal candidates — the others

being Muhammad and Sukudhew (Sukhdave) Singh — who had been groomed to take over from former governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz. Muhammad pipped her to the post when Zeti retired in April 2016.

What gives Nor Shamsiah an edge over other possible candidates now is that she spearheaded the investigations into

1Malaysia Development Bhd while at the central bank. This will prove useful as the 1MDB saga continues to unravel.

It, however, remains to be seen if Nor Shamsiah will want the post, if offered. She left Bank Negara seven months after Zeti did, and joined the International Monetary Fund.

If she does not take up the post, then it is best for the government to get Zeti to come back for two years, just like Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Bringing people out of retirement is not usually a good thing, but when there is no immediately apparent strong contender for the role, there may be little choice.

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