Mara under economic affairs ministry, to undergo reshuffling

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 15, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said yesterday Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), which he confirmed is now under his ministry, will have its management, including the board of directors and business portfolio, reshuffled.

His statement came after reports began circulating around late last month that Mara would be divided among several ministries.

“Mara will be under the ministry of economic affairs and there will not be any further questions that Mara will be broken down or mixed into several ministries,” he told reporters at the parliament lobby yesterday.

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, Mohamed Azmin lambasted members of parliament (MPs) Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (Barisan Nasional [BN]-Parit Sulong), Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) and Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (BN-Jeli) for speculating that Mara would be divided among several ministries.

“This is the Parit Sulong MP’s unhealthy intention, as she tried to make people feel anxious. It is true Mara was placed under the rural development ministry [under the previous BN government].

“However, as soon as the people gave their mandate to Pakatan Harapan (Pakatan) in the hopes of a total reform [of the government], the main steps taken included the introduction of a new ministry — the ministry of economic affairs, responsible for planning and drafting short- and long-term economic plans.

“Among the efforts proposed by the prime minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is to unite several important agencies to improve the bumiputera’s and the Malays’ [interests] under [this] ministry,” he added.

He also noted Mara’s core activities are in education and entrepreneurship aimed at creating an atmosphere that allows bumiputera Malays to compete in various sectors.

“We want to ensure Mara’s objective is fully achieved. So, we want a professional [group of people] with integrity to ensure Mara’s management is truly transparent.

“Felda (Federal Land Development Authority) and Mara are important bumiputera agencies that have been harmed due to the previous government’s mismanagement,” he said during his winding-up speech on the Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2018 and the Supplementary Development Expenditure (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure 2018) motion.

Mohamed Azmin gave assurance that his ministry will maintain Mara’s main objective since it was established in 1966, while empowering the agency in line with the guarantees that the new Pakatan government has made.

Mohamed Azmin was responding to Noraini, asking his ministry about the steps taken to ensure Mara’s objective would not be set aside or neglected.

Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who left as chairman of Mara last year, raised the possibility, in a social media posting last month, that Mara could be divided among several ministries, as part of a planned agency reshuffle, which made headlines.

Last week, Dr Mahathir reminded his cabinet ministers to be sensitive when issuing statements on Mara, saying it has become a sensitive issue requiring attention by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Pakatan.

He was reported as saying Pakatan should be sensitive to the people’s views for their continued support.