A SELF-PROCLAIMED ‘Malay-Muslim government’ charging unreasonable moratorium interest (read: riba) payment for Islamic financing? Oh, the irony.

Bank Negara’s sneaky press release regarding changes to the moratorium yesterday caught everyone by surprise.

Reinstating interest charges to hire-purchase loans and fixed-rate Islamic financing is simply put, not in the interests of the rakyat as a whole.

Well, if you are well-versed in the financial and banking sector, you would know that this decision is inevitable given the disastrous effect of a six-month moratorium aimed at our banking industry.

However, this ‘U-turn’ by the government certainly came to a shock to Mak Cik Kiah, Haji Salleh and millions of other ordinary Malaysians coming into the 44th day of the movement control order (MCO).

The question arises then: why did the government decree a six-month moratorium as part of the Prihatin economic stimulus package in the first place?

Haven’t they carried out a proper study on the adverse effects on banks, which could lead to a domino effect on their capacity to finance operational costs across the entire business?

This incompetence is made the more bewildering given that our finance minister is a technocrat with decades-long experience in the banking industry itself. Why didn’t Tengku Zafrul Tengku Aziz voice his concerns during the cabinet meeting in which the stimulus package was crafted?

Or did his warnings fall on the deaf ears of a prime minister eager for a populist policy to validate his dubious rise to power?

Perhaps the prime minister was too busy appointing minister-level ambassadors to foreign countries to notice how his populist decisions are not compatible with reality.

So, what would the next course of action be?

This latest ‘U-turn’ by the government creates quite a conundrum for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on whether to prioritise the rakyat or the banks.

Regardless of whether it is a ‘banks first, rakyat second’ policy or the opposite, if we were to base our judgement on how the Perikatan Nasional MPs are demanding positions during this crisis, one thing is for certain: the only economy they care about is the economy of their own personal gain.  THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Netizens hurl brickbats against finance minister over loan moratorium announcement

Netizens on Twitter have been using the hashtag #BankerJagaBanker to protest against Bank Negara Malaysia’s announcement yesterday on the latest change in procedure for the six-month loan moratorium for hire-purchase (HP) agreements and fixed-rate Islamic financing repayments.

Bank Negara had said yesterday that additional documentation would be required to defer HP and fixed-rate Islamic financing repayments. This comes after its March 25 announcement that there would be an “automatic” moratoria on all loan and financing repayments.

The announcement yesterday had led to speculation that requiring borrowers to sign additional documentation opened the door for banks to charge additional interest for deferring HP and fixed-rate Islamic loans.

This had caused a wave of brickbats against the announcement among netizens, who began to criticise Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (photo, above) over the change in procedure.

Tengku Zafrul was formerly the CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chief executive officer, who was roped in by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to become the finance minister on March 9.

Twitter user “Nuzul Fikrie Salam” also urged Malaysians to realise how fragile the system is.

“#BankerJagaBanker, Mak Cik Kiah and all should wake up the Malaysians. Just how fragile our system is. Policies which should protect the needy are also difficult to implement.

“And we need to fix the damn economy where the rich capitalises so much. The rest had to fight for scraps,” he said.

Twitter user “Ivy Kwek” also wondered what gave Tengku Zafrul the confidence to announce such a decision a day before Labour Day.

“#MayDay2020 will probably go down as the hardest one ever in our lifetime. And all we got was this. #KitaJagaKita #BankerJagaBanker,” she said.

However, Bank Negara has since denied that it had reversed its decision on the six-months payment deferment for both HP loans and fixed-rate Islamic financing.

“The payment deferment is still automatic for HP and fixed-rate Islamic financing,” said Bank Negara.

It said the latest change in procedure, which requires borrowers to “complete the documentation to give legal effect on the moratorium”, is unavoidable.

Bank Negara also expressed regret that their announcement had caused confusion and anxiety. MKINI