Banks misleading Malaysian Indians: Minister

April 29th, 2009 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, April 29 (IANS) A Malaysian Indian minister has demanded a probe into the charge that banks have been misleading the Indians who want to purchase units of a government-run investment fund reserved for the community.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department S.K. Devamany said that he had received more than 60 calls since Monday from angry Indians. They were told by the banks that units of the investment fund Amanah Saham Malaysia (ASM) allocated to the respective branches had been sold out.

He said there were even cases of banks telling them that the shares had been sold out within 15 minutes of the bank opening for the day.

“One of the reasons for this may be due to the reluctance of some bank staff to take on additional work to process the applications.

“Another reason I believe is manipulation of the process whereby they blocked the shares for certain customers instead of giving them to those who had been queuing at the banks,” he was quoted as saying by The Star Wednesday.

Devamany said that according to the latest report from Amanah Saham Bhd, the government firm that is selling the units, only 138.15 million units of ASM had been taken up by Indians, which was only 27.7 percent of the total allocated to them.

“There is something very wrong when banks start to claim there are no units left and I feel that Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Bank Negara and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate this,” he said.

He said PNB needed to look into how the units were distributed to ensure that it was done according to the concentration of Indians in the respective areas. He proposed that PNB provide mobile unit services for Indians in rural areas.

The ASM units are like bonds that allow investment and business opportunities to Malaysians. Fifty-one percent of these are reserved for the majority Malays, while the ethnic Chinese, who form 33 percent of the 28 million population and Indians, eight percent, get the rest.

Indians have limited capacity to purchase these units and many are also unaware of these opportunities.

Devamany and his ethnic Indian cabinet colleague R. Sarvanan have been holding seminars to create awareness, especially after the Chinese were found to have taken their full share of the units.

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