by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
A WOMAN will be appointed as the chairperson of a local bank, becoming the fourth lady to lead the board of a financial institution in the country.
Currently, three lenders namely Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd (Bank Rakyat) and Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB) have appointed a woman as their chairperson.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the move to appoint another woman is in line with the move to encourage women to play greater roles in developing the country.
“This number will increase as I have proposed for another woman to become the chairperson of yet another Malaysian bank. The relevant announcement will be made in the future,” Lim said in his speech at a Budget 2020 focus group meeting held at the Ministry of Finance yesterday.
Under the previous administration, there was only one woman as the chairperson of a bank, he said.
“The government will continue to encourage women’s participation in various sectors right up to the highest professional level,” Lim said.
Maybank’s Datuk Mohaiyani Shamsudin has been chairing South-East Asia’s fourth-largest lender since April 2017. Bank Rakyat, an Islamic cooperative bank, has been chaired by Datuk Noripah Kamso since December 2018, while BPMB, a development financial institution (DFI), appointed Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan as its chairman in February this year.
Among the banks that could possibly make changes is RHB Bank Bhd, as its current chairman Tan Sri Azlan Zainol has held the position for over 14 years. Azlan was appointed as RHB Bank chairman in July 2005, according to the bank’s 2018 annual report.
At CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, Datuk Mohd Nasir Ahmad replaced Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazir Razak as group chairman in October last year.
Public Bank Bhd appointed Lai Wan as its new chairman in January this year, replacing founder Tan Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow.
Hong Leong Bank Bhd’s chairman and founder Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan was appointed to the board of directors in January 1994. Quek, whose family controls the Hong Leong group, has not given any indication that he will be stepping down any time soon.
Meanwhile, AMMB Holdings Bhd’s (AmBank) founder and chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim, who was appointed in 1991, said in January 2017 that although he intends to retire from six AmBank subsidiaries over the next two years, he will remain chairman of AMMB, the holding company.
Lim said in December 2016, women only made up 16.6% of boards of directors among the top 100 listed companies. By August 2019, the percentage had risen to 25.1%.
As of January last year, seven of the 100 largest-listed firms also did not have any women representation at the board of directors’ level. As of February 2019, however, women are represented at the board level in all of these companies, he said.
The administration is also working to raise Malaysia’s women labour participation rate to above 60% in line with the levels observed in industrialised economies such as Japan. Malaysia’s women labour participation rate rose to 55.2% in 2019 from 54.7% in 2018.
“The government will reduce barriers for women to work by making changes to the Employment Act by, among others, lengthening the period for maternity leave, as well as introducing anti-discriminatory and anti-sexual harassment clauses. We will continue to incentivise women to return to work after a career break,” Lim added.
He also said the RM107 billion allocated for social sectors across various ministries in Budget 2019 needs to be rationalised and optimised, especially in terms of government assistance.
“At the moment, the spending is done across multiple ministries that cause overlapping functions and aids. The public sector needs to reduce the function overlaps to ensure government assistance achieves the maximum impact benefitting vulnerable groups,” he said.
The RM107 billion allocation is approximately 34% of total government spending for 2019. The Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development in particular received an allocation of RM2.4 billion this year.