Report from MalaysiaInsider :
Jul 17 : Tengku Razali Hamzah said a prime minister should not hold the purse strings to the finance ministry.
The rising number of financial irregularities in the government and its companies and agencies was due to a lack of check-and-balance and a prime minister who is also finance minister, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said yesterday.
He said Datuk Seri Najib Razak should solely focus on executing his duties as prime minister and not also hold the finance portfolio, claiming that such an arrangement was unwise as it did not provide for proper checks-and-balances.
The Kelantan prince popularly known as Ku Li also believed that many government agencies such as the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and firms like Sime Darby Berhad were currently facing a financial crisis because they were not under the purview of the Ministry of Finance.
The founding chairman of Petronas said that the Najib administration should revert from its current policies to those practised back when Razaleigh was finance minister.
“During my time (as finance minister), I controlled the money, all the contracts. In my time, all the generals briefed me with what they wanted to do with the money in the various ministries,” said Razaleigh, who had unsuccessfully challenged Najib for the Umno presidency.
According to the veteran politician, back during the Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad administration, the Ministry of Finance had control over the expenditure of all the other ministries in the government.
If a particular ministry wanted to hire a contractor for a project, they would have to first consult the finance ministry and the ministry would ensure that an open tender system was practised prior to approving the project.
“And anything that the Ministry of Finance decides has to go through Parliament. It was definitely more open (back then) because the minister had to report to Parliament, to the Cabinet.
“Now, every ministry can spend the money any way they want. There is no proper mechanism for check and balance,” explained Razaleigh.
“At least you knew back then, we were not wasting public money,” he stressed.
In reference to the current controversy surrounding the alleged misappropriation of Felda’s funds, Razaleigh said this could have been avoided if government agencies like Felda came under the auspices of the finance ministry.
“In those days, the finance ministry keeps a tight lid on investments. The decision on investments was done by us… but now it’s done by various agencies.
“But now, Felda [comes] under the Ministry of Rural Development, which is under the prime minister, [so] the finance ministry has no say. The PM decides on what to do with Felda,” he said.
Razaleigh’s remarks come amid the National Association of Felda Settlers’ Children (Anak) recent demand for a Parliamentary probe in what it claims to be the misappropriation of funds by Felda.
Its president, Mazlan Aliman, said Anak will also approach Razaleigh to lead a parliamentary caucus on Felda.
“These people came to me and spoke to me recently, and they claim to have documents of abuse of funds… I will have to study the documents that they will pass me.
“You can ask me in ten days’ time whether I want to lead a caucus on this,” Razaleigh said