November 16, 2008

Another research house, another bank

Last week, on 11.11.08 and 12.11.08, I saw another history being made in Malaysia. I had the opportunity to witness the launching of a research house dedicated to Islamic finance and the launch of a new Islamic banking institution (more historical for the former). Both were supposed to be launched by the Prime Minister but he only came for the latter as during the former, he sent Datuk Zahid Hamidi as his replacement as he had to entertain some delegates from Iran.

I am currently a student of INCEIF which is a university under the auspice of Bank Negara Malaysia. INCEIF is a university to further develop the human capital in Islamic banking in which its courses are tailored for bankers and as my legal firm deals a lot with banker, I need to understand them more.

All the students of INCEIF were invited by the research house, ISRA', for a one day seminar which would end with the launching of ISRA'. ISRA' is the acronym for International Shari'ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance. It was supposed to complement the Islamic finance development in Malaysia especially Islamic finance product developments. The seminar helped me to understand more about Islamic banking and the issues at hand including the long standing arguments between the middle eastern scholars and the Malaysian scholars especially with regard to secondary market. It was actually a session of comparing our achievements in the world with the middle eastern's countries and it seems that we are quite at par with them. During the launch D. Zahid seemed to be quite perky as he just clinched the highest number of nominations in his UMNO bid for a place in the Majlis Tertinggi. Good for him...!?!

On Wednesday, I was invited by a friend who had worked with another bank to see her new workplace being launched by the PM, who this time came on time at 9am, to launch a new Islamic bank called Standard Chartered Saddique. They had operated Islamic banking window in Malaysia since the 90s but this is a totally new entity concentrating on Islamic banking. The CEO of Standard Chartered gave his speech before Pak Lah and they celebrated the new bank's first 3 customers by giving them a Islamic credit card (which allow them to get back their money). There were some plaques signing and a tour of the bank's business centre.

From these 2 events I believe the best statement that show the benefit of Islamic finance were when in both speeches, Pak Lah said that Islamic finance may be the saviour in the current economic conundrum. Hmmm...sometimes this guy does make sense if you really willing to listen to him. With Tan Sri Zeti presence in both events, I hope she will make something out of these new institutions especially ISRA'. As for me, I have decided to take all that INCEIF and ISRA' have to offer as I have nothing to loose except time which I have a lot.

Here's to learning...

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