The DAP delegation led by SG Lim Guan Eng handed a memorandum to Bank Negara officials today, urging Maybank and Ambank to stop practicing racial quotas. The matter was raised in the Parliamenbt yesterday by DAP parliamentarians. The emergency motion tabled by DAP Kuching MP Chong Chien Jen was rejected by the Speaker. The Bar Council was also alerted about the matter which was largely seen as discrimatory and totally against the Malaysian spirit. Malaysiakini has the story…
This is the memo presented to Bank Negara by hand today…
9 May 2007.
YBhgia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz,
The Governor,Bank Negara
Malaysia,Jalan Dato’ Onn,
Kuala Lumpur. BY HAND
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Zeti,
We urge Bank Negara to stop Maybank and AmBank’s unprofessional banking practices that promote quotas, are discriminatory and not in the Malaysian spirit. As Malaysia’s largest bank, Maybank has a responsibility to lead the industry in good corporate practices that stresses on quality work and ability, merit, high efficiency and productivity to engender capital growth required for the country’s development. Unfortunately its latest policy requiring all law firms that conduct business with it to have at least one ethnic Malay partner with 50% equity in that partnership has underscored political interference in what should be a purely professional question.
Maybank’s head of Legal Affairs Geraldine Kamalanathan had sent a letter on March 29 2007 to its panel of solicitors informing them of the new and revised criteria to be qualified to carry out its legal work. All Maybank solicitors are given until 1st July 2007 to comply with its new requirement that there must be at least a bumi partner with 50% equity in the partnership. This 50% requirement is even higher than the 30% quota fixed by the government under the New Economic Policy (NEP).
Maybank appears more racist that the existing government policies that has not only underscored sensitivities among ethnic minorities over so-called preferential bumi social and economic privileges which has benefited only the rich at the expense of the bumi poor and hampered the county’s growth and development. Even the government realizes that such ethnic preferential policies is obsolete, stifles competition and causes efficiency loss in the form of corruption and poor delivery system as evidenced by the defects, ceiling collapse and cracks in the new expensive buildings in Putrajaya.
Realising the adverse effects of NEP on Iskandar Development Region in Johor, the government have even given exemptions from the 30 percent bumiputera-ownership requirement. For Malaysia’s largest bank to issue such edicts setting out ethnic quotas severely undermines its ability to compete with international banking groups that focus solely on business-related issues. For a Government-linked Corporation (GLC) like Maybank, owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd, such political edicts sacrificing quality for quotas is contrary to its goals of sustainable growth and corporate performance set out in the Key Performance Indicators. What is offensive about Maybank’s latest edicts is the implication that bumi legal firms are not capable and require such a quota imposition to assist them to carry out professional work. Equally offensive is that the professional quality of the work done by non-bumi lawyers is secondary to the priority of having bumi partners. DAP is disappointed that Maybank is only conducting a review in face of such controversy. Maybank is obviously dishonest when they claimed that “Efficiency and performance of solicitors as well as their ability to provide the best service to the bank and its customers have always been a core requirement for the emplacement of the bank’s panel of solicitors. Equity ownership had never been the sole consideration.” If Maybank is serious about efficiency and providing the best service, then this directive should be immediately withdrawn. Maybank’s stubborn refusal to do so has greatly disturbed Malaysians, some such as the Bar Council who is considering legal action and ordinary Malaysians who are angry enough to demand a full boycott of Maybank to show their displeasure. Should Maybank persist to insist in such discriminatory policies, then calls for a boycott would be fully warranted whether in the form of withdrawing deposits or not taking any loans for Maybank We are given to understand that similar requirements are also set out by Ambank whilst there have been such tacit discrimination by other banks in refusing to parcel out work to those without the 50% bumi equity requirement. As the regulator of banking industry in Malaysia, Bank Negara is beholden to intervene and direct that such directives, whether by Maybank or AmBank as well as all other banks which practices such tacit discriminatory practices, be immediately withdrawn. No foreign investor would want to come to Malaysia if banks impose such restrictions. Focus on professional conduct that is inclusive and performance-oriented and not exclude on the colour of our skin of whether we are Malays Chinese, Ibans, Kadazans or Indians. Instead of being impelled by race and religion, the time has come for banking industry to focus on corporate practices that promotes value-added growth and competition. Act in the Malaysian spirit. Be Malaysian First! Yours faithfully, LIM GUAN ENG
|Maybank policy ‘affects small firms’|
|Gerakan Youth chief Mah Siew Keong said legal firms in small towns would be badly affected by Malayan Banking Bhd’s (Maybank) new policy in selecting its panel of lawyers. “In many smaller towns, a lot of lawyers are a one-man show. If the 50 percent bumiputera equity (policy) is enforced, then it means all those lawyers operating alone will not be allowed to do any work for the bank,” he said in a statement today.His comments come in the wake of growing criticism against Maybank for its policy, which is being deemed discriminatory and anti-competition.Maybank – controlled by government-fund manager Permodalan Nasional Bhd – has sent out letters requiring firms on its panel of solicitors to have a minimum of three partners, at least one of whom must be a Malay with a minimum stake of 50 percent in the firm.The policy is supposed to take effect on July 1 for new legal firms joining the bank’s panel, while existing panels would have a year to comply.Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has slammed the policy as “totally discriminatory”, while the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) described the move as retrogressive in a New Straits Times report today.
The DAP youth wing has threatened to boycott the bank if it does not withdraw the decision within two weeks.
Don’t stifle competition
Mah said efficiency and performance of lawyers are paramount in serving clients, not the ethnic composition of the partners.
“The impact of globalisation and trade liberalisation in the world economy underscores the need for Malaysian companies to become more resilient and competitive.
“Being the largest banking group in Malaysia, Maybank should adhere to the free market mechanism and take a flexible approach to encourage fair and equal competition rather than impose racial orientated policies which will have a major impact on many legal firms.”
He also called upon the government to establish guidelines similar to those for the Iskandar Development Region in Johor, in which certain companies would be exempted from the 30 percent bumiputera-ownership requirement.
Maybank has said that it would take a ‘flexible approach’ and that it did not intend to call for its existing panel of solicitors to restructure their ownership.
“We would like to assure all parties concerned that the bank has taken note of the issues highlighted and that the necessary review will be undertaken with due consideration to the feedback raised,” it said in a statement published by The Sun.
“Rest assured that efficiency and performances of lawyers as well as their ability to provide the highest standards of service to the bank and its customer have always been a core requirement for appointment onto the bank’s panel of solicitors.”