Zeti unlikely to stay for another term

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is likely to leave when her term expires in April.

Zeti said today she has not received any request to stay on amid the current market volatility, a scenario which had fuelled speculation that her contract may be extended.

She stressed that it is "very unlikely" for her term to be extended again, as the succession process is already underway.

Zeti, who has served as governor for 16 years, was however tight-lipped on who her successor would be, saying she is not at liberty to discuss the matter.

"In due time, you will be informed because this is the eventuality that is going to happen. There is a process for it, so you have to be patient," she told reporters after the launch of the Investment Account Platform today.

She, however, said the central bank will remain independent even with the appointment of a new governor.

"The central bank has always been treated with respect. I expect this to continue," Zeti said in response to market concerns that there could be political interference in the central bank after her departure.

Zeti stressed that a politician should not be appointed as governor of the central bank.

"Even for financial institutions, we do not have politicians as members of the board, so least of all should the central bank," she said.

Zeti stressed that BNM should be free of any political agenda at all times for the greater good of the country.

"I believe the country, and every country, needs an organisation like the central bank, that is not drawn into any political development or political agenda.

"It has to remain focused on ensuring financial and economic stability, so that the financial policy will be directed to achieve what is in the best interest of our country," she added.

Zeti said her successor must have the relevant background and ability, especially with the current economic situation, to ensure that the transition can be managed well.

"I do believe the central bank has become a very solid organisation. It has institutional strength and resilience founded on the legislation that accords us with wide-ranging powers and independence.

"We're accountable for all the mandates that are articulated with great clarity in our Act," she added.