CEP Still Needed, Muhammed Abdul Khalid Appointed PM’s Economic Advisor

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The Council of Eminent Persons stays for now and the Prime Minister gets his own economic advisor.

The Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) is still needed as its members have a lot of experience to sort out various important issues, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said that though the government had its full Cabinet now, many of the ministers “are new and have no experience to sort out certain issues”.

“Our Cabinet, I have to admit, has no experience. Many of them (ministers) are new. But I need to work fast. I need some people who have some experience to sort out things.

“The new ministers don’t even know the kind of responsibilities they have in the ministries. They (are) finding their way; they cannot be doing a lot of investigation,” he said to reporters today.

He added that Tun Daim Zainuddin would continue to head the CEP and the advisory group would continue with a new and better role.

When asked about the appointment of Muhammed Abdul Khalid, the managing director and chief economist at DM Analytics Malaysia, as his economic advisor, Dr Mahathir said: “Advisor for me. He is not going to be with CEP. I need to have a constant analysis of what is happening in our country economically.”

Muhammed is also a former Khazanah Research Institute director and was Head of the Secretariat for the Council of Eminent Persons.

A trained economist with over 20 years of experience in various economic and financial sectors, Muhammed was previously head of economics at the Securities Commission Malaysia and a senior analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies or ISIS.

He has been a consultant for the World Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

He obtained his PhD from the Institut d’études Politiques de Paris, France, and holds a Master’s degree in Economics from University of Malaya and a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Muhammed is also known as the author of the best-selling book Colours of Inequality that was published in 2013, which seeks to provide an alternative insight to the debate on inequality in Malaysia by looking at the distribution of wealth or assets instead of income. In the book, Muhammad argues that despite the nation’s tremendous increase in national income, the wealth gap is alarmingly high and skewed.

The Prime Minister’s Office appointed him as the economic advisor to Dr Mahathir effective August 27.