Tuesday, April 29, 2014

HSBC Can't Stand the Heat

In November of last year, global banking conglomerate HSBC and one of Sarawak’s oldest banks resolved to close down its commercial banking business in the state. The bank gave an unconvincing explanation for the shutdown – there was not enough business to carry on in Sarawak!
This is in spite of all the billions of investment in the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (SCORE) pumped in by Taib Mahmud’s lavish public borrowing – when he was still the Chief Minister.
A public outcry ensued and there were howls of protests by bank employees and the Sarawak Bank Employees Union. Still, these displays of unhappiness did not amount to anything. Did you think the bank even care about the livelihoods of these locals? And the payouts were pitiful. According to the Borneo Post, it was 1.4 times the monthly salary, irrespective of the number of years the staff worked for the bank. [The first batch of employees will leave by end-April 2014 and the second and final batch by end of September 2014].
Then online investigative portal Sarawak Report disclosed on April 25, 2014 of HSBC’s latest decision not to do business with Taib and his clan.
The truth is that HSBC has been facing uncomfortable exposure over its embarrassing associations with the dirty potentates of East Malaysia and needed to take action.
A major Global Witness report into the bank last year revealed how HSBC bankrolled many crony deals by Taib, which have destroyed the environment and violated native rights.
[Sarawak Report also exposed HSBC’s connections to the money laundering of illegal millions by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman].
Given the above, it seems that the bank is seeking to do ‘damage control’ and clean up its business in this part of the world. Hence, the contentious decisions.
But don’t be fooled by HSBC. It can’t stand the heat, so it got out of the kitchen. This is just a temporary lull. After all, it is well-known as a tainted entity, corrupted by corporate avarice.
A bevy of happy students and their lecturer! This was a selfie my DMK1013 Tute 4 class took on Monday:

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