Friday, September 19, 2008

Najib Explains Postponement Of Trip To Saudi Arabia

PEKAN, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today he had to postpone a trip to Saudi Arabia beginning today as he had to reorganise his schedule to enable him begin duties as the new finance minister on Monday.

He said the postponement had nothing to do with the domestic political scenario.

"My trip was not cancelled. I have to reorganise my schedule so that I can move in to the finance ministry on Monday and start work (as the finance minister), particularly at a time of uncertainty in the world economy and world stock markets.

"There may be certain developments at the global level which may have an impact on the national economy and our stock market," he told reporters after the presentation of tithes in his Pekan parliamentary constituency, here.

Najib was asked to comment on the postponement of his trip to Saudi Arabia where he was scheduled to, among other things, open an apartment hotel and a restaurant owned by Felda in Mekah.

Najib said he had to obtain updates from the Finance Ministry, Securities Commission, Stock Exchange and Bank Negara on Monday to make decisions pertaining to the national economic situation.

On Wednesday, Najib and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi switched their Cabinet portfolios, with Abdullah taking over defence and Najib finance, as part of the plan for transition of power from Abdullah to Najib in June 2010.

Najib said his trip to Washington and to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly session would go on as scheduled.

"I will go to New York and Washington and, on my return trip, I will stop over in Saudi Arabia to perform the 'umrah' (minor haj) and open the Felda restaurant in Mekah," he said.

Asked about his plans as the finance minister, Najib said it would be better if he made a statement on Monday after he had been briefed.

Earlier, addressing the function, Najib said it had been proven that government policies had helped the people in the face of an uncertain world economic situation.

He said Malaysia had proven itself to be akin to a welfare organisation for three reasons - firstly in fulfilling its responsibilities in accordance with Islamic principles, secondly in implementing what was encouraged (sunat) such as welfare services for the handicapped and thirdly being sensitive to the people's needs such as in the case of the provisions of Budget 2009.

Najib's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was also present at the event.