BANK NEGARA MALAYSIA RICH MAN CLUB MENTALITY FAILED PROVIDING SOCIAL FABRIC IN MALAYSIA
The role of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) inter alia is to promote monetary and financial stability by providing a conducive environment for the sustainable growth of the Malaysian economy.
One of its important functional roles is being a banker and adviser to the government while providing efficient delivery of services by engaging the public.
Increasingly BNM has failed to bridge the widening inequality where 80% of Malaysians are within the B40 and M40 categories and to control both the rising cost of living and the continuous depreciation of the Ringgit.
Less than an hour drive from BNM HQ, we have a native settlement where the community has been deprived of basic essential clean water despite 65 years of independence, instead they are left with muddy water each time it rains.
In certain states in Malaysia, school students are crossing rivers on their own, on a raft and ropes, risking their lives and limbs daily to reach their schools. Yet, at the same time, we see tycoons building skyscrapers, to sleep and have meals in the sky.
Flash floods have emerged due to rapid development, to cater for the rich Malaysians and expatriates to occupy the heart of the cities while other Malaysians are moved to the outskirts.
Recently BNM excitedly announced its approval of new digital banking licenses, applied for by rich tycoons even when the existing banks with sufficient resources are capable of providing such services to customers. On the contrary, in the late 1990s, BNM applied pressure on many domestic banks to merge and acquire to be strong, to remain competitive with foreign banks in the new millennium.
We were proud in the past when BNM made it mandatory for banks to open a branch in rural areas if they intended to open a branch in an urban area. But today BNM is consenting to foreign banks to close their rural branches thereby depriving rural folks access to full fledge banking services and employment in their rural community.
NUBE has lodged multiple complains on the misconduct of the CEO and management of the HSBC Bank. Their actions have affected the poor wage earners in HSBC even to the extent of the loss of their livelihood. However, BNM has failed to investigate these complains of misconduct.
HSBC Bank’s top management, instead of preserving public confidence as custodians of public funds, have been dishonest to their own workers. They break the laws of the country and lie through their teeth when called upon to address its workers’ issues.
High ethical standards among bankers are a vital aspect of protecting and enhancing the bank’s image and ensuring its long-term business survival. BNM seems to have waived the high ethical standards expected of CEOs and top management, instead it is only imposing these on the poor workers.
Evidently, BNM is more concerned about protecting the business community, the rich, the influential and the powerful, where else the basic protection for local communities, the poor and wage earners have completely disappeared from the radar of BNM.
Everyone remembers the first Malaysian Governor of BNM, Tun Ismail Mohd Ali as the paragon of trust and integrity, who built Bank Negara Malaysia and shaped the nation. Many who know Tun Ismail acknowledge he had a far-reaching impact, not only on the country’s economic and financial landscape, but also on the personal and professional lives of Malaysians.
In 2018, Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, the current BNM Governor, during her welcoming remarks at the commemoration of the Centennial of Tun Ismail’s birth said, “It is my firmest belief that the best way for us to honour the late Governor Ismail Ali is to carry on this vision – the vision of a central bank independent, competent and respected.”
Unfortunately, the conduct of BNM is just the opposite and certainly Tun Ismail will turn in his grave if he is alerted on the conduct of his predecessors.
BNM has forgotten that the most important constituents in the banking sector, above all are the people, the entire population, and not merely the rich and powerful. Instead of taking sides with the rich and powerful, and thereby oppressing the poor, BNM must remind itself, and the wealthy and powerful of their obligation to the poor.
NUBE wishes to remind BNM that every Malaysian has a right to the resources in the land, to make a living, to care for and protect their families. When we limit the opportunities of some in our society, we are in effect taking away their constitutional and human rights, including their right to livelihood.
Lately, BNM's inefficiency seems even more striking when a researcher’s efforts to obtain both Tun Ismail and BNM's books have been made so difficult. Early this week repeated phone calls were unsuccessful and upon appearing in person at BNM HQ, the researcher was instructed to make prior appointments through the museum and gallery websites, which were inaccessible at all. Why has BNM made it so difficult to make available its resource materials and publications? Where did the efficiency of BNM, which was once highly respected, go?
NUBE urges Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus to stop the Rich Man Club Mentality and to responsibly uphold her belief in honouring the vision of the first Governor, the late Tun Ismail, and not turn Malaysia into a potential Sri Lanka.
NATIONAL UNION OF BANK EMPLOYEES (NUBE)
13 MAY 2022