International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz was the only absentee in the unity government’s special cabinet meeting today.
It is understood that he is in Abu Dhabi to attend a trade mission. Sources told Berita Harian that the ministry is expected to make an official announcement on the matter tomorrow.
Earlier reports had claimed that Tengku Zafrul had missed the cabinet meeting as he was away in Qatar. “He is not in Qatar, as claimed. He’s not there to watch the World Cup. He went to Abu Dhabi on a trade mission,” said the source.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had earlier today chaired a special cabinet meeting in Perdana Putra, the first of the unity government, three days after announcing the federal cabinet lineup on Friday.
The special cabinet meeting, attended by all ministers except Tengku Zafrul, began at 10am.
The ringgit may have leapt from the day he was replaced as Minister of Finance and the new government may already be expressing concern at the “serious breaches of procedure” regarding RM600 BILLION potentially misappropriated under his watch.
However, Tengku Zafrul has leapt to demonstrate why it was that his friends in high places were pressing so hard for him to be appointed back in the cabinet, despite failing even to gain a seat at the election.
Having only been appointed late on Thursday (the plea had been for him to grab his old position back as MOF but he was politely given International Trade instead) the man was already darting across the world to start implementing his role. He didn’t even have time to attend Anwar’s first Cabinet meeting with all the other ministers 10am Monday!
Think what a stunning achievement this was. Right up till just Friday he had hoped to be re-appointed MOF, but by first thing Monday morning he had picked himself up having organised over the weekend a full-scale trade mission to Abu Dhabi.
The civil servants in both countries must certainly have been kept on their toes over those two days … no lazy weekend watching the World Cup just a hop across the way in Qatar for them!!
And, certainly, as Zafrul’s own spokespeople have rather gratuitously assured the media, this was not at all the purpose of the known sporting-enthusiast minister’s own trip out West. The fun-loving amateur runner, who was perhaps more regarded as a well-connected lightweight in his earlier years, has got right down to business instead.
What trade matters he was exactly up to is yet to be revealed or how he had come to be briefed on the trade policies of the hours old government he’s just joined as a total outsider. But we can rest assured that one person who will not be sitting in the VVIP section of the stadium for the final on Sunday (tickets for which are being touted for over RM113,000 in KL) is Malaysia’s new International Trade Minister.
Instead, he will be doubtless on his travels again drumming up more trade for Malaysia to make up for the many billions that disappeared during his period of office as Finance Minister.