Welcoming Speech by Datuk Ahmad Hizzad Baharuddin on Labuan IBFC 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner



30th October 2015
Convention Hall, Financial Park Labuan


Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahii Wabarakatuh.

Y Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia and Chairman of Labuan FSA,
Yang Berhormat Datuk Haji Rozman bin Datuk Haji Isli, Member of Parliament, Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan and Chairman of Labuan Corporation

Members of the Authority of Labuan FSA,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.
  • It is my great honour to be here today to welcome you to the Silver Jubilee anniversary Gala Dinner commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Labuan International Business Financial Centre. We are indeed privileged to have with us the presence of very distinguished guests tonight. The Members of the Labuan FSA Authority are here together with other governmental and corporate leaders of the Labuan IBFC. To our guests from overseas and those on first time visit to Labuan, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this beautiful island of Labuan, and we hope your stay would be a memorable one with wonderful experiences.
  • Tonight is a landmark celebration of the Labuan IBFC’s journey since its inception in 1990. The centre is now 25 years old. As it grew through more than two decades of milestones and achievements, l would like to take this moment, first of all, to convey our deepest gratitude to the Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia and Chairman of Labuan FSA, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, for providing the inspiration and guidance in pursuing our goal to make Labuan a sound, stable, reputable and dynamic IBFC. Tan Sri Chairman, our utmost appreciation also for being here with us tonight to celebrate this special and auspicious occasion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
  • Looking back in history, I would be the first one to admit that the 25 years journey has not been an easy one for Labuan IBFC. But we have come very far indeed and today, we are here celebrating its 25th year of great growth and prosperity, even as the centre perseveres through its many challenges and hurdles.
  • And for that, we would like to pay tribute to the Malaysian Government for the strong support accorded to us since the early days of the Labuan IBFC. The incentives provided and the investments in infrastructure improvements, are testimonials of the Federal Government’s unwavering commitment to ensure Labuan IBFC is a success. Without the Government’s support, Labuan IBFC would not have grown at the pace it did and achieved over the last 25 years.
  • I would also like to convey our utmost thanks to the past and present members of the Authority of Labuan FSA, members of various advisory panels, who have provided their wise counsel and advice in guiding us to develop the Labuan IBFC. I must also thank the former Director-Generals of Labuan FSA, for their leadership in establishing the right foundation for Labuan FSA and the Labuan IBFC to continue to move forward.
  • I would also like to thank the Labuan IBFC industry associations, and all the industry players, for working with us in advancing and pushing the business frontiers of Labuan IBFC. The energy and vigor that has been shown and put forward all these years are pivotal towards reaching our success today and I am sure this cooperation will continue in the years ahead.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • Anniversaries, particularly a silver jubilee, are good time for reflection and reminiscence. Let me walk you through the memory lane. Labuan did not start out as a financial centre. Its economic activities were mainly on fishing, barter trading and small scale business. It has a population size of less than fifty thousand, a few restaurants, textile shops in an old town. The transformation really began after Labuan became a Federal Territory in 1984 and Labuan being declared as an IBFC on 1st October 1990. The IBFC has helped to provide the catalytic spur for economic and infrastructural growth in Labuan.
  • With more than a decade of progressive upgrading in the physical infrastructure and connectivity of the island, we now have in Labuan a nice airport, international ferry terminal, cargo wharf, modern telecommunication facilities, Financial Park Complex, a beautiful waterfront and seasport complex, yacht marina, a new 18-hole golf course and excellent education facilities in the form of Labuan International School and Universiti Malaysia Sabah. With all these in place, conducting business in Labuan is both convenient and efficient, making the island an ideal place to work and to stay.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • 25 years is not long in the context of developing a financial and business jurisdiction. Compared to other more established global financial centres, Labuan IBFC is still young. It had been a journey characterized by difficult challenges. We have been confronted with and experienced episodes of global financial and economic difficulties that had punctuated our progress and tested our resolve. With perseverance, we managed through the turbulent years, in an environment of increasingly liberalized market landscape, intensified competition, rising international standards and regulations and economic downturn. A financial centre needs to be agile in responding to ever changing business environment. For Labuan IBFC, strategic initiatives were undertaken to transform its financial system previously dominated by just banking and insurance to expand the Labuan IBFC’s offerings to that offers a wider array of product and services to tap on the opportunities in the Asian region. The centre has been repositioned, and in 2010, a comprehensive set of legislation was enacted to propel Labuan IBFC as an international business and financial centre to greater heights.
  • From humble beginnings, Labuan IBFC is now considered as one of the commendable international business centres in the Asia Pacific region. Confidence in Labuan remains strong and the centre has been posting an average of about 10% growth year-on-year with more than 70% of the companies originating from Asia. I remember when I first set foot on the island in 1996, the total number of companies was only 937. Today, the number has grown by more than thirteen-fold to over 12,000 and more than 700 licensed institutions comprising banks, insurance and insurance related companies, trust companies, leasing companies, and wealth management vehicles such as foundations and trusts. We are proud of these achievements. It reflects the growth and resilience of Labuan IBFC in connecting with the regional economies. These numbers attest to the fact that the laws, policies and rules of the centre are conducive for international business and strategies, and that remains as our key objective, of having a set of well-founded laws and regulation for the Labuan IBFC.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • Over the last two decades together, we had laid a strong foundation for the industry to grow even larger. The reforms and initiatives introduced in the past were critical to take the industry to a new level of maturity. As the various industries become more mature and robust, our aspirations for the centre will be more ambitious for the next 25 years, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. T economies. The wave of opportunity that lies ahead is both new and exciting. However, the gains can only be reaped if we adapt to the changes as we had done before, and collectively rise to overcome any barriers that could hold the centre back from achieving its full potential. On Labuan FSA’s part, we will always continue to work hand-in-hand with the industry to grow the centre further to become more business conducive, innovative and resilient.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • On that note, I do not intend to delay you any further from the sumptuous spread and entertainment for our tonight’s gala dinner. I take this opportunity to accord my appreciation to the Organizing Committee comprising Labuan FSA and the Association of Labuan Banks, Association of Labuan Trust Companies, Labuan International Insurance Association and the Labuan Investment Banks Group, for their hard work in making this gala dinner a reality. Once again, thank you for being here, and enjoy your dinner, and in another 25 years, I am sure the golden jubilee celebration will certainly be more grand and exciting. Bon appetit!
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