Welcoming Remarks by Datuk Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin at Labuan International Finance Lecture Series 2016
28th October 2016
Dorsett Grand Labuan


Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and very good afternoon.

Yang Berhormat Datuk Rozman bin Datuk Haji Isli, Member of Parliament Labuan,

Authority Members of Labuan FSA,

Chairmen of Associations,
Distinguished speakers,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

First of all, it is my pleasure to welcome all of you to the Labuan International Finance Lecture Series 2016. Labuan FSA is very pleased to host this annual event as a continuing series of intellectual discourse on topical and contemporary issues relating to international economy and financial system. Today, I am delighted to have with us two prominent and well known personalities, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Group Chairman of Permodalan Nasional Berhad, and Mr. David Chong, President and Founder of Portcullis Group to share their insights and thoughts. Let me first thank you both for accepting the invitation to be with the Labuan IBFC community this afternoon, and let us all extend them a very warm welcome.

Today’s lecture topics focused on economic partnership towards integrating the Asia region and also the freedom of the press versus financial privacy in today’s business world. This Lecture is taking place at a time when we are witnessing a dynamic shifts of global demand to Asia Pacific that would brings in greater opportunities, within a challenging climate of a more levelled playing field for international financial centres, bringing to fore the importance of global accountability for mutually beneficial growth of nations. Interestingly, as the world we live in today become more flatter in the words of Mr Edward L Friedman in his book “The World is Flat”, thus opening up the opportunities for smaller players, the world we see today is also embracing a technology revolution that is disruptive to incumbent players. New ideas and ventures are testing the limits of the existing systems and processes. In a more open competitive and globalized environment, there will be those who would be able to benefit tremendously and those that could flatter along the way. Against this backdrop, Governments are figuring out the right sized policy measures, one that is pro-growth in nature to nurture the industrious in the global market, but with extension of rights to tax and to share the success of those corporation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Many of you have attended the Annual Industry dinner yesterday evening and have heard the Governor of the Bank Negara Malaysia’s articulation on the changing landscape and the need for change. As we all know, the common adage is that change is constant, and one must evolve and adapt to changes to remain relevant. His calls for a more inclusive and rigorous effort to grow the Labuan IBFC leaves us with one key message, that it is incumbent upon us to innovate and restrategise our position in meeting the international and Government aspirations for the Labuan IBFC, for the betterment of the centre.

Today, it is opportune that the time is ripe for us to sow the seed of change. The economic growth in Asia and its progressive economic integration and strengthened cross-border supply chains, remains intact, although at a moderate level. In line with the regional economic expansion, investors are attracted to look at a higher Asian asset and investment portfolio whilst the number of high networth individuals are rising in numbers, which augurs well with the centre’s positioning to focus on private clients wealth and trust business. Trade agreements targeting to lower trade barriers and encourage economic growth are getting more traction. Its potential is now enhanced further by efforts to intensify the integration through the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, to advance multi-lateral trade. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is another mega-regional trade agreement in negotiation. The 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population and almost 30 percent of global GDP, is expected to bring together the ever-larger sets of trade groupings. Not forgetting to mention the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement, which brings in immense opportunities.
With increasing globalization and technology advancement, the world is becoming seamless, resulting in a more connected and interdependent world. For the industrious, free movement of goods and services, including capital movements present opportunities, and when presented in an era of high information accessibility, the new economy is likely to be characterised by digital technological gains and flows movements of unprecedented scale, scope and speed. However in the process, the future inevitably brings the attendant risks of rising dissatisfaction with claims of unfair competition and practices especially when nations and Governments are slow in the transition to embrace the change, and with limited resources to reign in leakages, and the damaging consequences of the rise of the industrious, including those unscrupulous parties benefitting from a more open world.

It is for this reason, that parties also saw the need to assist the Government, with the rise of cyber-attack of computer servers and the recent information leak as in the Panama and Bahama incidents. This impinges on individuals’ privacy, a tenet much cherished and respected as a social value in the past. Depending on who are the owners and users of these information, the outcome can be disastrous or beneficial. But the eventual outcome is the same, that those leakages bring uncertainty and anxiety, with the notion of rising income inequality becoming mainstream. This is where we sometimes diverge, as to whether globalization and openness and flexibilities, brings in more good or harm, when amongst us, there are bound to characters taking advantage of a more connected world. The balance between protecting privacy, and intrusive transparency need to be delicately addressed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with these thoughts that I wish to end my remarks. I am sure our distinguished speakers, drawing from their wealth of experience, can shed a better understanding on the current global trends, challenges and opportunities for us to be aware of and be more prepared in moving forward, while at the same time weathering the global sensitivities and uncertainties in providing the platform for these opportunities to be crystallised, in Labuan IBFC.
On behalf of Labuan FSA, I would like to thank all of you for your presence here today. I look forward to an interesting conversation.

Thank you.
Datuk Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin
Director General of Labuan FSA
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