Bank Negara Should Punish Not Just Hong Leong Bank But All Banks Whose Actions Precipitated The Drastic Fall In The 5 % Fall In The Share Market

Press Statement

Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP expresses surprise at the unusual frankness of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in singling out Hong Leong Bank as irresponsible and unacceptable actions that led to the 5% fall in the share market in the last two weeks. The Prime Minister’s unhappiness stemmed from Hong Leong Bank’s shortlist of 145 companies and instruments, which were then expanded to 454, on the Bursa Malaysia that should not be offered share financing had included reputable and strong companies such as Hyundai-Sime Darby Bhd, Allianz, and cash-rich companies such as Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd, banking group RHB, oil services firm SapuraCrest Bhd and hospital operator Pantai Holdings Bhd. 

If the Prime Minister is correct that Hong Leong Bank’s refusal to offer share financing to these companies precipitated the 5% drop in the share market over two weeks is true, then stern action should be taken against Hong Leong. Such stern action is necessary to serve as a punitive lesson to commercial banks to act responsibly in the interests of the public and the nation. However the more important question is whether Hong Leong Bank the only commercial bank that issued such a shortlist. If not, then it is unfair that Hong Leong Bank be the only bank that is punished as other commercial banks should not be let off. 

Being responsible for causing the fall in stock market is a very serious offence. Billions of ringgit are involved and small investors’ savings may be wiped out because of the irresponsible actions of banks or the manipulations of so-called syndicates. DAP is surprised why the regulatory authorities such as Bank Negara or Securities Commission have knowledge of such syndicates but is powerless to take action against them. 

The Securities Commission has shown itself to be toothless tiger by failing to take action against listed companies that makes false projections of profits for the sole profit of jacking up their shares prices. Such dishonest actions have resulted in investors who bought these shares on the assurances of these profit projections to lose money when the projections are not fulfilled. The Securities Commission to take action has raised doubts of their effectiveness and authority as a regulatory body. 

The question now is whether Bank Negara is similarly ineffective in taking action against errant banks whether it is Hong Leong Bank or other anchor banks who act against the interests of the public, investors or consumers. DAP will monitor the investigations carried out by Bank Negara to ensure that promises of action are not mere rhetoric but will be followed up by action.



*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General