An economic think tank has voiced concerns over the appointment of Anwar Ibrahim's daughter as his senior adviser on finance and economics, saying it is a continuation of a series of actions that goes against past claims of reform by the prime minister.
The Center for Market Education (CME) said the role of economic adviser requires someone with suitable background as it is not a political position.
"Nurul Izzah Anwar studied engineering and international relations and does not possess any specific background in economics or finance, a background that, while not necessary for primary political roles such as ministers, should be a must for advisers and counsellors," said the think tank's CEO Carmelo Ferlito.
Nurul's revelation in an interview with The Star that she had been appointed as senior adviser on economics and finance to the prime minister has unleashed a flurry of reactions from Malaysians.
In his response, Anwar defended his daughter, saying she was qualified for the role despite not having a suitable economics background.
"Even I don't have a finance-related degree or certificate, but I was the minister of finance for eight years (in the 1990s)," he said, adding that Nurul would not receive any salary.
But Ferlito said the real question was the "actual cost of politics" due to bad policies, saying many bad policies in the past had cost the nation more than salaries or corruption.
He said little attention was devoted to drawing up a sound economic policy, citing recent statements from Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli who "demonstrated a poor understanding of economic theory and reality".
"Furthermore, such statements sounded more like moral preaching rather than practical and implementable policy proposals, which are very much necessary to tackle that economic downturn about which CME has warned since mid-2021," Ferlito added.
He said the government has sidelined capable individuals for some Cabinet positions, giving the example of how an elected representative such as Johari Abdul Ghani was not made the finance minister, while entrusting the international trade and industry portfolio to Tengku Zafrul Aziz despite losing the election.
"It is in this scenario that the prime minister appoints one of his daughters, who recently lost the electoral battle, as senior adviser for economics and finance.
"Such an appointment does not only sound like nepotism, but it is also a source of concern for the future of the economy," said CME in a statement.
Nurul, who lost her Permatang Pauh seat in the recent polls, revealed her appointment in an interview with The Star, saying it took effect on Jan 3.
She said her experience as an MP would come in handy when engaging with "experts in navigating economic governance, accountability and evidence-based policies".
She also said she had been busy meeting with business groups and stakeholders as part of the preparations for the upcoming budget to be tabled by her father.