Labuan Financial Industry Annual Dinner 2011
Welcoming Speech

En. Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin

Convention Hall, Labuan Financial Park
8 December 2011

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and good evening.                                                    

Yang Berhormat Datuk Hj Yussof bin Hj Mahal, Member of Parliament, Labuan;
The Chairmen of Labuan Financial Industry Associations;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of Labuan FSA, I have great pleasure in welcoming you to the Labuan Financial Industry Annual Dinner 2011. We are pleased to see many of you here this evening, as Labuan FSA plays host to the Annual Industry Dinner, themed ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’.

To our distinguished guests from outside Labuan, allow me to also extend our warm welcome to this beautiful island of Labuan. We hope your stay here is going to be a memorable one.

My deepest appreciation goes to our Guest-of-Honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Hj Yusoff bin Hj Mahal, who has kindly took some time off to avail himself to be with us tonight.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I came on board as the Director- General of Labuan FSA in October this year and am indeed delighted to be celebrating my first Annual Industry Dinner with you tonight, in my capacity as the DG of the IBFC. I am very honoured to have been given the opportunity to steer Labuan IBFC as the premier International Business and Financial Centre in the region, after being involved in its formative years as a junior officer at Labuan FSA in 1996-1999. I am delighted to be back and I have this vision, then and today, that Labuan IBFC can truly become the springboard for entities to capitalise and ride on the growth of Asia. This vision is more apparent now than ever before, since the eyes of the world are looking at Asia as the growth engine. To achieve this, I believe that there is more work to be done to sustain the developments and ensure the continued success for the IBFC industry. That said, I look forward for your continued support and commitment in progressing the IBFC to its next level of development, which can only be achieved through the commitment, dedication and intensive collaborative arrangements amongst the stakeholders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The theme for tonight’s dinner which is ‘Lights, Camera, Action!”, aptly reflects the current business environment in the region and at the global level today. Hardly three years after the global financial crisis, countries around the world are confronted with yet another financial debacle as the European debt crisis continued to show its ugly heads, which may cause the market to wonder “Is there really “light” at the end of the tunnel?” The camera spotlight of late has been on the Europe and the Middle East, and actions are now being crafted to arrest the financial and political crisis in these regions. Against all these adversities, it would also cause us to think, what would be in store for us here in Labuan IBFC amidst all the unfolding events?

It is my belief that there are always blessings and opportunities behind every crisis and such periods of difficulties. Indeed, the lights and cameras are now on the Asian financial market and institutions, and how the economic growth will be powered by the Asian corporates. As you would now observed, the European banks are scaling down their operations, and will leave a ‘vacuum’ for the financial intermediaries in this region to partake in the international and cross border investment activities. With the recent strong growth and potential of the Asian region in coming years, it presents a significant prospect for local and regional institutions to play an important role in effectively capitalising on the growth opportunities, and undertake productive investments.

Given this scenario, we must therefore take quick calculated actions to seize these opportunities. We must be ready to absorb global competition and be in the position to understand the key forces that are impacting the highly inter-connected international financial industry today. While we strategize and chart our future business growth and position ourselves to cushion the uncertainties that are unfolding before us, IBFCs such as Labuan, will need to be more efficient and competitive in their offerings, as only those that exhibit the foresight and innovativeness will stay at the forefront of the more challenging environment. One thing for certain, we need to harbour our anchor on the complementarities that are available to us in Labuan and the region, and harness those complementarities to a level where they would benefit us in the future years.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this front, Labuan FSA has taken several initiatives, as part of its strategic positioning, to ensure that the Labuan IBFC continues to be the jurisdiction of choice among the targeted investors. The latest being the launch of the Global Incentive for Trading (GIFT) Programme and the introduction of the Labuan International Trading Commodity Company in October this year, which marks an exciting time for us as we introduced another new scheme out of Labuan IBFC, in our continued effort to offer a wider spectrum of products and services.

While we are committed to continuously promote and develop the island as an investor-friendly international business and financial center, equally important would be the Labuan players’ participation and energetic support towards the achievement of these mutual objectives. The notable and strong relationship between the Labuan FSA and the Labuan financial entities and Associations have been, and will be paramount in addressing significant regulatory as well as operational challenges in order to maintain the credibility of Labuan as a vibrant international IBFC. The ongoing collaboration we have fostered with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara Malaysia, Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia, Companies Commission Malaysia, Labuan Corporation and the other local authorities will also continue to be strengthened. More importantly, I should say, it is expected and incumbent upon all of you industry players that the same commitment is further strengthened, and for you to take your respective initiatives and steps to grow Labuan IBFC. Great accomplishments can only be achieved together, through a series of small steps forged into a combined force.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On a lighter note, the theme “Lights, Camera and Action!” of tonight’s dinner is all about fun and joy to celebrate the achievements in 2011. The industry dinner is one of the key highlights in Labuan, I was told, which we have organised as we draw the curtain down for 2011. Tomorrow, we will have the Labuan International Finance Lecture Series.

I am also pleased to inform that our guest speaker for the lecture series in 2011 is Y.Bhg Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Lin See Yan, the former Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia and founding deputy president of the Association of Harvard University Alumni Club of Malaysia. With the presentation entitled “The World is Still a Dangerous Place”, we look forward to Tan Sri’s views on the economic developments that are impacting us in some ways. I greatly encourage all of you not to miss the opportunity to engage with Tan Sri and optimize the intellectual discourse on these topical issues.

The Labuan Lecture Series will be followed by the Labuan Financial Industry Golf Tournament on Saturday (10 December), and I was informed that there are many attractive prizes to be won. So, for those who will be participating in the tournament, I wish you all good-luck.

I also know that the organiser has lined up an entertaining programme for all of us tonight and as we all are anxious to savour the delights of tonight’s menu and entertainment, let me close my remarks by expressing my utmost appreciation to our guest-of-honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Yusoff Haji Mahal, once again, for his presence, and to the Organising Committee, who have put their time and efforts in ensuring the success of the dinner programme. To all present, I hope you will have a pleasant evening.

Thank you.
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