Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank) Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s resignation as director from the Board of Khazanah Nasional Bhd effective from Apr 21 has raised a few eyebrows. It’s not everyday you read resignation in the name of “to avoid any potential conflict of interest” simply because the Barisan Nasional (National Front) encourages its top guns to spread their tentacles as far as possible. Of course nobody knows which party Dr Zeti voted in the recent Mar 2008 general election but her intellectual should easily be above people such as the Member of Parliament from Kinabatangan.
Dr Zeti has been holding the portfolio (Governor of Central Bank) since 2000 after took over from his predecessor Ahmad Mohamad Don who resigned together with his deputy Fong Weng Phak in 1998 because of a rift between Ahmad and former premier Mahathir. Dr Zeti who was then an assistant governor of the central bank took over as acting governor. Just like former Deputy PM Anwar (now the de-facto opposition leader), Ahmad Don has been known to prefer a tight policy recommended by IMF (International Monetary Fund) to which Mahathir rubbished as a silly policy not suitable for Malaysia.
The daughter and the only child of the country’s famous academician Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz who was known for his contribution during his service as the Vice Chancellor of University Malaya, Dr Zeti has extraordinary blood legacy. Her grandfather, the late Datuk Jaafar Mohamed was the first Chief Minister of Johor while UMNO founder the late Datuk Onn Jaafar was her granduncle.
Her achievement or rather her most controversial implementation was the capital and currency controls designed to contain and hopefully to tackle the so-called currency speculators whom Mahathir blamed for the 1997-1998 Asia Economic Crisis. Current Second Finance Minister Nor Yakcop was said to be the architect of the capital control plan but he was more famous for his role in gambling a whopping RM30 billion away in foreign exchange (forex) speculations. In fact Bank Negara was named the global top three players in forex back then. Despite the huge losses which occurred between 1992 and 1994, Nor Yakcop (was then the head of forex trading) together with his partners – the late Bank Negara (Central Bank) governor Jaffar Hussein and former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, no action was taken against either one of the three musketeers. The joke was that George Soros was the person on the other end who made the profit from Bank Negara’s losses thus Mahathir’s crazy attack on George during 1997 Crisis.
Anyway, right after Dr Zeti resigned as director from the Board of Khazanah Nasional the rumor was blowing strong that she might quit her post as the governor of Bank Negara soon. Nor Yakcop today denied such rumor but I would rather believe Samy Vellu is clean in the Maika scandal than to trust him, hence take it with a pinch of salt. It appears that in certain financial matter such as the interest rate, it is hitting huge boulder as far as final decision maker is concerned. Obviously Dr Zeti sees thing from a different angle compared to Nor Yakcop who is a politician. It’s not difficult to imagine a central bank governor having a hot and spicy argument with a finance minister in the meeting room. What really pissed Dr Zeti off was certain decisions being made that bypassed her authority and you can’t blame the old lady jumping up and down when certain boys from level-4 smiling cheekily at her. Could the country see the final gatekeeper of billions of dollars removed and open the door of the vault for its’ spectacular view?
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