KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 5): Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday (Dec 5) the government will revert the number of special draws by number forecast operators (NFOs) back to eight times a year starting from Jan 1, 2023 — like that in 2019 when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government ruled.
"If there is any tendency to collect illegal funds, we will take necessary steps. For example, as long as I am the finance minister, I can cancel a decision made earlier this year on special draws by gaming companies, which was decided by a Cabinet with participation of Bersatu and PAS, whereby they had decided to increase the number of special draws from eight times to 22 times," Anwar told a press briefing after a special Cabinet meeting.
"Today I have instructed that the number of special draws be maintained at the previous level, which is eight times. This means that starting from Jan 1, 2023, special draws by gaming companies, which were accepted by the Perikatan Nasional government for 22 times, will be reduced to eight times.
“On the issue of gambling that this is partly used to finance the [recent] election, we have to check on that. Whether you call yourself a Malay party or an Islamic party, notwithstanding, the funds came from the gaming companies,” he added.
In view of the weak economy projected ahead, Anwar said the Cabinet has agreed to take a salary cut of 20% every month until the economy recovers.
Anwar also said businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary has been reprimanded for having the monopoly of rice import through PadiBeras Nasional Bhd (Bernas).
The tycoon has pledged to allocate RM10 million this month to help poor paddy farmers and RM50 million via Bernas next year, said Anwar.
“We should understand that this approval to import is not a concession, not an award to him. It was an approval given to Bernas, which was then owned by Tan Sri Tan Boon Seng, with a 31% stake, and Tan Sri Shahidan Kassim,” he said.
“Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar has bought this company [through the] 31% stake from Tan Boon Seng for about RM800 million, and from a company owned by Tan Sri Shahidan Kasim for RM400 million. We cannot burden Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar [Albukhary] until we go through his earnings and whether his return is reasonable.
“But I wish to guarantee that the government under my leadership will not easily allow any political figures to accumulate wealth, allowing them from being 'bloodsuckers' of those poor paddy farmers,” he added.
Anwar also defended his decision to assume the Finance Ministry portfolio, saying that, if possible, he would prefer to separate the power to his Cabinet colleague.
"As PM, I am not wanting to consolidate all the power, but to separate them to colleagues who are given the mandate by the people.
"For example, we are now preparing to face disasters like floods, [according to] the [Malaysian Meteorological Department], the weather is forecast to be gloomy. Therefore, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri [Dr Ahmad] Zahid [Hamidi] is tasked [with chairing] the [National] Disaster Committee, which will take immediate actions to handle and make preparations for the situation," he said.
Anwar also said that he has fully entrusted DPM Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof with accelerating the implementation of Malaysia Agreement 1963.