Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has named one of his closest allies to take over the running of Bank Negara, the central bank. Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman, the low-profile director-general of the Economic Planning Unit, succeeds Ahmad Mohamed Don. Mr Ahmad quit late last month along with deputy governor Fong Weng Phak in protest over Dr Mahathir's moves to loosen monetary policy and to impose foreign-exchange controls. Mr Ali was quoted by the official Bernama news agency yesterday as saying Bank Negara needed to be more pro-active in terms of aiding Malaysia's economic development. 'It has to be more business-friendly,' he said. 'Monetary policy will have to play an important part.' A political analyst in Kuala Lumpur said Dr Mahathir 'wants to make sure that his so-called economic-recovery strategy is going to be put into place, so he needs all the support he can get, especially in the central bank'. The prime minister yesterday appointed himself as finance minister. He also named Entrepreneur Development Minister Mustapa Mohamed as second finance minister. Mr Mustapa, who will retain his present portfolio, is another loyal lieutenant of Dr Mahathir. He is also a former political secretary to former finance minister Daim Zainuddin. Mr Daim was recently brought back into cabinet by Dr Mahathir as a special functions minister to help spearhead the prime minister's economic reforms. Both Mr Ahmad and Mr Fong had been appointed by Anwar Ibrahim, who was sacked as finance minister and deputy prime minister last week because of clashes with the prime minister about how best to get Malaysia out of its deepening economic slump. Bank Negara assistant governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who was appointed acting governor following the resignations of Mr Ahmad and Mr Fong's, was named deputy governor, Bernama said. She is viewed as another of the prime minister's loyal allies. The appointments are expected to improve the working relationship between the prime minister's office and central bank, which had been seriously strained.