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Malaysia's new prime minister names finance minister, other cabinet members

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad named three senior ministers during a press conference May 12, three days after his coalition won the election.

Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party and a former banker, will lead the finance ministry, while Mohamad Sabu will head the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Home Affairs will be led by Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mahathir Mohamad is barring his predecessor, Najib Razak, from going overseas, saying there was enough evidence to investigate his involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, corruption scandal, according to various press reports. Funds from 1MDB were allegedly diverted to the accounts of the former prime minister. The fund is being investigated in multiple countries.

In the U.K., an anti-corruption campaign group and Parliament member Margaret Hodge recently urged the Financial Conduct Authority to take action against Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Standard Chartered PLC over their roles in the scandal.

Meanwhile, the new prime minister is creating a five-member advisory board that includes former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former head of Bank Negara Malaysia, to launch his economic plan, Bloomberg reported. Mahathir said at the press briefing that his administration will monitor the stock and currency market and address potential volatility when markets reopen on Monday. The country's stock exchange was closed on Thursday and Friday in conjunction with a special holiday.

On May 10, the Malaysian central bank decided to keep its overnight policy rate unchanged as offshore trade signaled the ringgit extended losses following the election.

Mahathir has pledged to run a business-friendly administration, focusing on improving the economy and reducing debt. His other campaign promises include abolishing the 6% goods and services tax, reintroducing fuel subsidies and building a high-speed rail to connect the capital Kuala Lumpur with Singapore, according to Bloomberg.

Mahathir, who served as prime minister of the country from 1981 to 2003, returned to power at the age of 92. The election ended the 61-year rule of Najib Razak's party.