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Throughout the movement control order (MCO), it’s undeniable that most Malaysians are worried about money. In this way, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz as the current Finance Minister has been on people’s mind since the beginning as he announced the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package as well as all subsequent Prihatin additions.
Now, as Malaysian banks dance around loopholes involving the moratorium aimed at helping the public handle their loans, Tengku Zafrul is stepping up to speak on behalf of the people, urging banks to consider waiving accrued interest or profit charges during the loan repayment moratorium period.
So who exactly is Tengku Zafrul anyway?
Before he became Malaysia’s Minister of Finance under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Zafrul was a well-known corporate player in high-ranking finance positions.
In 1996, he started out as a corporate finance executive in AmInvestment Bank. He then moved on to be an investment analyst and then Director at CrÃ©dit Agricole, one of the world’s largest cooperative financial institutions based in France.
Since then, he has been in high-ranking positions in many Malaysian banks, most notably as Group Chief Executive Office/Executive Director of CIMB and Chief Executive Officer of Maybank Investment Bank.
Not only that, he is a member of the APEC Business Advisory Council, representing Malaysia in promoting trade and cooperation with countries from the Asia-Pacific region. He also serves as an advisor for Malaysian socio-economic development under the National Sports Council of Malaysia, a Trustee of the Prime Leadership Foundation, and a member of the National Higher Education Entrepreneurship Council under the Ministry of Education.
He has also been recognized throughout his corporate career with prestigious awards such as the ASEAN CEO Award, the Malaysian Business Leadership Award (twice), the Most Promising Entrepreneurship Award, the Masterclass CEO of the Year Award and the Best Chief Executive Officer for Investor Relations award.
So why is he currently involved in a controversy?
Yet, does an illustrious career in the corporate finance world mean that he will be able to act as a good finance minister for Malaysians?
Tengku Zafrul has been criticized for not speaking up about the moratorium situation earlier, causing stress for the public as bank representatives were not clear on what the moratorium would mean for the layman.
In fact, Twitter came up with the hashtag #bankerjagabanker, implying that Tengku Zafrul was protecting the banks’ interests at the expense of the rakyat instead. Some critics have even mentioned that as Minister of Finance, he can order banks to waive interest, as his position holds the power to do so.
Regardless, Tengku Zafrul is facing a crisis he is expected to solve, and only time will tell if the decision he makes will bear fruit.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.