Archive for January 6th, 2017

Malaysia starting the new year not just with double whammy but a multitude of whammies!

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s hint to the first Cabinet meeting of the year on Wednesday that 2017 is going to be an “interesting year” has already been more than fulfilled in the first five days of the year.

The new year in the past five days started not just with a double whammy but a multitude of whammies, including:

  1. The Malaysian ringgit currency starting the new year with a new record low of RM4.5002 against the US dollar since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, signifying very tough economic year for Malaysians;

  2. The gutting of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) although it was already quite impotent to fighting grand corruption. No “tiger” or “crocodile” had been caught by the MACC,but there seems a “devil’s bargain”: that the MACC is given the green light to go after civil servants so long as they leave the politicos and their “favourite” civil servants alone.

  3. Read the rest of this entry »


Things Will Get Worse for the Malaysian Ringgit: BMI Research

by Will Davies
January 5, 2017

Ringgit was among the weaker major Asian currencies in 2017
China’s economic slowdown will weigh on Malaysian trade: BMI

Malaysia’s ringgit, one of Asia’s worst-performing currencies over the past year, has further to fall, according to BMI Research.

One reason is because it is affected by the yuan, which is going to remain under downward pressure, BMI said in a Jan. 4 note. There will also likely be a narrowing of real interest-rate differentials between the U.S. and Malaysia, with the latter probably staying on hold this year while the Federal Reserve increases rates by a total of 50 basis points. Further weakness in the global bond market would also put the ringgit under pressure given that around 40 percent of Malaysian bonds are held by foreigners.

BMI has lowered its forecast for the ringgit. It expects it to average 4.50 per U.S. dollar this year and 4.40 in 2018, from 4.00 and 3.88 previously. The currency, which fell 4.3 percent against the greenback last year and 18.5 percent in 2015, hasn’t posted an annual gain since 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Charismatic Banker Who Led Singapore’s BSI Into the Abyss

by Andrea Tan and Chanyaporn Chanjaroen
January 6, 2017

He was the leader of one of the largest mass defections in private banking history, with more than 100 staff following him from RBS Coutts Bank Ltd. in the thick of the global credit crisis to create a financial phenomenon in Singapore at a little-known Swiss bank.

Hanspeter Brunner, together with former deputy Raj Sriram and chief operating officer Gary Tucker, were the kernel of a plan by BSI SA, founded in 1873 in Lugano, to build up a $10 billion wealth-management business serving the burgeoning ranks of Asia’s millionaires.

Brunner, a veteran Swiss private banker who has spent more than two decades in Asia, offered his Coutts colleagues an extraordinary lifeboat.

Then-parent Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc was being bailed out by the U.K. government, while all around the financial industry was culling tens of thousands of jobs.

Brunner knew every banker, analyst, back-office worker and client at Coutts, according to people familiar with the move. When he went to BSI, even the pantry lady followed, three of the people said. This wasn’t just a chance for BSI to grab a few star talents in the cutthroat world of private banking in Asia, this was a wholesale exodus. Brunner’s lawyer Ng Lip Chih of NLC Law Asia LLC declined to comment.

The mass move to BSI Bank Ltd., the Singapore unit, forged a sense of camaraderie among the defectors and cemented a bond with Brunner, who managed to negotiate pay increases of as much as 40 percent, according to the people, who didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. BSI’s payroll swelled from 30 employees to 200 within a year, according to a company report.

They little knew that Brunner was bringing them from one crash to another. In May, Singapore’s financial watchdog ordered the bank to shut its operations in the city-state, blasting BSI as the nation’s worst case of banking misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tan Sri Alwi Jantan’s mournful poem “Cry my Beloved Country” is the plaintive cry of all patriotic Malaysians who love Malaysia and grievously hurt at the harm we have done to ourselves

When I received on the WhatApps a poem “Cry my Beloved Country” by “Alwi Jantan, Perth, 1st January 2017”, I wanted to be sure that it was penned by Tan Sri Alwi Jantan himself, and not a “fake”.

I took pains to check its veracity and I was vindicated when I spoke to the 81-year-old former top civil servant himself, and he confirmed that he had himself written the poem.

Born in Dungun, Terengganu on 16th April 1935, Alwi had a long civil service career belonging to the first Merdeka generation of public servants, starting in the civil service in August 1958, and who went on to serve as Director-General of National Archives and Library Malaysia in 1971; Selangor State Secretary (1972-76); Secretary-General of three Ministries, namely Local Government and Federal Territory, Health and Agriculture; Deputy Secretary-General of Prime Minister’s Department (1981-1984), ending his public service career as Director-General of Public Services Department (PSD) (1987-1990).

Alwi’s mournful poem “Cry my Beloved Country” to ring in the New Year of 2017 for a very troubled Malaysia is the plaintive cry of all patriotic Malaysians who love Malaysia and grievously hurt at the harm we have done to ourselves.

This is Alwi’s “Cry my Beloved Country” on behalf of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region – a cry deep from the heart of grieving Malaysians in the run-up to the 60th anniversary celebrations for the Proclamation of Merdeka on August 31, 1957:
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