Malaysiakini News

Cabinet gave nod for Daim's China visit, says Syed Saddiq

Published:  |  Modified:

UPDATED 1.45PM | Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had approved of Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) head Daim Zainuddin's official visit to China, said Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

He added that cabinet was also informed of Daim's assignment to China.

"Every action taken or decision made by the CEP cannot be done unilaterally.

"There is no (legitimacy to claims that) the CEP is more powerful than the cabinet," said Syed Saddiq in a statement today.

Daim had visited Beijing last week and was received by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The fact that he was given such a grand reception by Beijing, despite not being part of Malaysia's federal executive committee, had set tongues wagging back in Kuala Lumpur.

Among others, Syed Saddiq's predecessor Khairy Jamaluddin had asked the Dewan Rakyat whether Daim's China trip proved that the government advisor was, in fact, more powerful than the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated his claim that there was nothing out of the ordinary, nor did it go against the law, for the prime minister to send a special envoy to a foreign country.

In fact, the minister stated that he, himself, met with Daim before and after the latter's China visit.

"In this context, Daim was sent to China with very specific referrals and he reported straight to the prime minister.

"There are many ways to communicate with friends abroad. We sometimes send the foreign minister, sometimes it's the finance minister or even the economic (affairs) minister. So it is up to the situation and the conditions," he said to reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

'No overlap' in CEP duties

He had previously told Malaysiakini in an interview that Daim was made a "special envoy" to Beijing ahead of Mahathir's visit, which is scheduled for the second half of next month.

"Special envoys are normally sent for special reasons to achieve special results," Saifuddin had said.

Meanwhile, Syed Saddiq said that the CEP's advice may not necessarily be adopted by the cabinet.

He added that the CEP's term was only for 100 days (ending Aug 20) and it has been actively advising the government thus far.

"There is no issue of overlap in duties," he said.

Syed Saddiq said that he was proud that the federal government recognised the abilities of veteran leaders to serve on the CEP, which was cheaper than having to rely on foreign consultants.

"I believe that Malaysians will evaluate the performance of the CEP in a just manner.

"The efforts of the eminent persons should be an inspiration and not politicised," he said.

The CEP was formed on May 12 at a time when Mahathir's full cabinet had yet to be announced.

The council has been given the power to summon government agencies for briefings.

Apart from Daim, the council comprises former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former United Nations economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram, businessperson Robert Kuok and former Petronas CEO Mohd Hassan Merican.

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