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Malaysia's 'eminent' council to present findings to PM this week

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4 of the 5 members of the Council of Eminent Persons: (from left) Tun Daim Zainuddin, Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Tan Sri Hassan Marican and Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

[KUALA LUMPUR] A Malaysian panel of experts reviewing the economy and public finances said on Monday it will present its recommendations to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad this week, days after it completed its 100-day mandate.

Dr Mahathir formed the "Council of Eminent Persons" after his coalition government took power following a surprise election victory in May, to help his largely inexperienced Cabinet focus on problem areas and manage mounting debt and corruption.

The council's chairman, Daim Zainuddin, said its recommendations focussed on three broad themes of improving governance, the well-being of the people and promoting sustainable growth.

But he declined to go into details.

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"It is up to the government, what they want to do with the recommendations. As far as we are concerned, we have finished our 100 days on Sunday," Mr Daim told a news conference.

Dr Mahathir, who returns on Tuesday from an official visit to China, had given the council a broad mandate to advise his administration on government policies and the management of public agencies and government-linked firms.

State-owned firms and agencies saw management shake-ups since then, including the resignation of the managing director and entire board of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd and a change in central bank governor.

The council also established separate committees to look into a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad and institutional reforms.

The opposition and some members of Mahathir's coalition criticised the council, saying it had too much influence over the government and may have overstepped constitutional boundaries by summoning top judges.

REUTERS