Malaysiakini News

Dr M will decide if CEP can extend beyond 100 days, says Saifuddin

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It is up to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to decide whether the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) will extend beyond its initial stipulated 100-day timeline, said Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

"That is up to the prime minister. But let me underline something that people have forgotten.

"We came in as a new government. (Mahathir) was sworn in as prime minister (and was) for two weeks without a cabinet.

"If we understand that situation, one will be more understanding as to why the CEP was established in the first place," Saifuddin said as reported by Malay Mail today.

This comes after reports surfaced of alleged tensions between the advisory body CEP and Pakatan Harapan leaders over the direction of government decisions.

Former minister Daim Zainuddin leads the CEP, which also consists of former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas chairperson Hassan Marican, economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram and business tycoon Robert Kuok.

Umno's Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin has also expressed concern over the CEP, questioning the accountability and jurisdiction of the advisory body.

Khairy had, in the Dewan Rakyat, raised the example of Daim summoning top judges and instructing them to resign as well as Daim's visit to China to negotiate with the Chinese government.

"Was that advisory too? Was it to give advice?" he had asked.

Saifuddin said his official visit with Mahathir to China next month is more diplomacy-focused with a broader goal in mind, whereas Daim's visit was purely to negotiate "lopsided" deals.

"We want to enhance our relationship. We treasure the history as far as having good ties with China and want to bring it to greater heights," he said.

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