RSOG LEADERSHIP FORUM
Bringing Everyone on Board – The Story of Amanah Saham Nasional
YBhg. Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim
About the Seminar
“If you wish to reach the highest, begin at the lowest”
||16 February 2017
||Razak School of Government
||YBhg. Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim
. Perhaps that profound statement made by Publilius Syrus thousands of years ago, still holds water until today. Sekim Amanah Saham Nasional
which was launched on 20 April 1981 is certainly one of the most profound exercise in bringing everyone on board as far as national policy implementation exercise is concerned. From an initial funding of RM200 million, Amanah Saham
(collectively) has grown to more than RM255 billion worth of investments with 11.6 million unit holders. Whilst one may argue that there were limited investment opportunities for the people then, selling such ideas to the underprivileged in rural areas is no walk in the park. Even those who receive a certain level of education may not necessarily be well versed in financial literacy. How did the entrusted team connect with people? What did they tell? How did they respond to sceptics, if any? This Leadership Forum is an opportunity to gain more insights on those questions from the man who witnessed the ground-breaking days of Amanah Saham.
Those privileged or old enough with access to television in the 1980s would have remembered the iconic advertisement of a young lady preparing for her wedding day, specifically when the phrase, “merah sangatlah mak ngah !”
were uttered. To this day, the phrase is still used, even by those who weren’t born in that period or when sporting red-hot lipstick which is in fact, in-trend. It’s a classic example of how certain sound bytes aren’t merely transient. More importantly, it serves as a good example of how one can communicate financial education by crafting an acceptable and lasting message to the masses. The story of how Amanah Saham Nasional
, the first and largest unit trust scheme in Malaysia was incepted and its implementation was shared by the then Chief Executive Officer of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB
), YBhg. Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim before an audience at the Razak School of Government’s Leadership Forum on 16 February 2017.
It all began when the second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, set up National Operations Council (or known as Mageran – Majlis Gerakan Negara
), which attempted to identify the root causes of racial clashes of 1969. Part of this led to the formulation of New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971 aimed at poverty reduction and socioeconomic restructuring. Almost a decade later, the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) evaluated NEP’s impact and the results were not encouraging. Thus, leading to several rounds of stakeholder engagements between Bank Negara Malaysia
and central agencies to identify the best way to ensure that the policy implemented would bear fruit, specifically on increasing the asset and wealth ownership of the Malay Bumiputera. It was agreed that an institution that ensures increment of Bumiputera ownership must be created. Reaching the said consensus wasn’t the most difficult part, despite the many characters and stakeholders involved. As in any programme or project, implementation is key, and the key to strong implementation is clarity of ideas to be implemented and thorough understanding of the processes that may or will involve.
“It’s too red, aunty!” – loosely translated from Bahasa Malaysia.
Another crucial factor in implementation is getting the buy in from targeted groups and the public. How does one engage and educate the public in an area that’s unfamiliar to them? Some of the initiatives undertaken was public outreach and engagements such as open talks across the country on investments, specifically on what they are, how they can participate and what benefits they can reap from these investments. To further widen the net, they targeted mass media such as through television advertisements and in the newspapers. Two key messages that was projected about the Amanah Saham Nasional
scheme – honest and efficient, and by portraying these images, it builds public confidence and support. These messages must also be exemplified in practice and as for the case of financial institutions, trust is crucial as each unit sold are with the promise of dividends and bonus.
The pursuit of economic development in the 70s was brimming with a sense of pride in working towards nation building. The circuit was competitive, and everybody involved had to be at the top of their game by knowing what the subject matter at hand is and more importantly, know how it can take place. Openness to learning from experts were also exhibited by inviting international specialists from developed nations such as United Kingdom and Japan to share their investment analysis and recommendations, yet ensuring that the model designed is one that is suited to the country’s needs. The speaker also shared an anecdote of resource sharing where PNB had to temporarily loan a computer system from Bank Negara Malaysia in operationalising the Amanah Saham Nasional
to handle the overload due to overwhelming response, illustrating the spirit of strategic collaboration at its best.
Undeniably there were strong characters and leaders with explicit preferences (such as penchant of a specific spoken language, detailed ways of working, among others), but ultimately when a common goal is identified and shared openly, everybody on board will work towards achieving that aim. Looking back almost 50 years ago, what transpired with Amanah Saham Nasional
is certainly a ground-breaking initiative, and one that is worth emulating again in this lifetime. Nevertheless, current context and its complex challenges must be acknowledged and addressed. As the famous saying goes, “dulu lain, sekarang lain .”
“It was different then, it is different now.” – loosely translated from Bahasa Malaysia.
Key Issues Raised
- Integrity is the most important criteria in promoting the idea of a nation’s development and in its pursuit of establishing itself among other successful countries.
- While competition has its known merits, it may be subject to manipulation which leads to corruption. Thus, a fair balance between risk and reward must be struck.
About the Speaker
- Constant, comprehensive, and forthright review process should take place periodically for any policy introduced to ascertain its effectiveness, success factors, and areas of improvement.
Tan Sri Abdul Khalid bin Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician and businessman who served as the 14th Menteri Besar
of the state of Selangor from 2008 to 2014. Khalid began his career as a university lecturer. In 1979, he became the chief executive of the government-controlled fund management firm Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB)
, a position he held until 1994. In 1981, he became famous for leading the “dawn raid” on the London Stock Exchange, which resulted in PNB gaining 51% share in British plantation concern Guthrie. He later became the CEO of Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd. from 1995 to 2003.
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