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Tonton VIDEO Ucapan YAB PM tentang pertukaran portfolio dengan Najib di SINI {..}

Najib is new Finance Minister

Maria J.Dass

PUTRAJAYA (Sept 17, 2008): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has handed over the powerful portfolio of finance minister to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as part of the country's power transition plan which is to be completed by mid-2010.

Abdullah, who also announced he would be taking over the defence portfolio held by Najib in a swap of duties, however indicated he may hand over the reigns of power to his annointed successor earlier than the agreed deadline.

Speaking to reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting at his office today, Abdullah said he had informed the cabinet of the role swap, and that over time, he would be handing over "a few of my roles and duties as prime minister to Najib".

The role swap comes at a time when the country is facing tough challenges, politically and economically, against the backdrop of a gloomy world economic climate.

Among Najib’s first role as finance minister will be to meet with fund managers and investors in New York where he is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 25, he said.

"This will be an opportune time for him to meet with large US companies based in Malaysia and also meet and speak with fund managers and investors on the economy and the country," he added.

Abdullah said he will concentrate on other duties pertaining to social and religious issues, racial unity, judicial reforms and the reforms of other agencies.

"I will slowly rescind my duties to Najib and see how well he adapts to his many new duties that he will be taking on from time to time," he said.

"The timing (of exit) is flexible. I will decide on when I want to go and tell Najib…I will not be staying on beyond 2010," he said, adding that it was also possible that he may give up the prime minister’s position earlier.

This matter will also be among those discussed at the Umno Supreme Council meeting to be held today (Thursday), he said.

Abdullah also announced that the deputy chairman’s post in Khazanah Nasional will be handed over to Najib, as this post comes with being finance minister.

Najib, who was with Abdullah at the press conference, said the move by Abdullah demonstrated his (Abdullah’s) sincerity and confidence in him.

"The prime minister and I have agreed to that and we hope that the party and the rakyat will accept this in the interest of the party and country’s stability," he said.

Asked what his plans are to address the current tumultuous economic situation and restore investor confidence, Najib said: "I will have to answer that when I move to the ministry, though we have discussed the current challenges at hand. Give me time to respond."

Both leaders said efforts are geared towards keeping and attracting investors via trade missions and meetings with investors and fund managers.

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