Kuala Lumpur, March 14, 2014 – The International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) organized its first Thematic Workshop for 2014 at Lanai Kijang, Bank Negara Malaysia, on research titled, “A Critical Analysis of the Current Islamic Banking Structure in Malaysia: Issues and Policy Implications”.

The main objective of the workshop was to gather key personnel of various Islamic banks to discuss the main findings and results of the research, whose main focus is the strengths and weaknesses of the current structure of Islamic banking in Malaysia, which comprises full-fledged and subsidiary models, and the viability of the current structure for achieving Malaysia’s vision to be an international Islamic financial hub by 2020. The workshop was well attended by various levels of Islamic bankers, ranging from chief executive officers (CEOs) to heads of Shariah departments and senior managers of local and international full-fledged and subsidiary Islamic banks, as well as Islamic windows. Representatives from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) also attended the event.

The workshop commenced with a du’a recitation by Ustaz Bahroddin Badri, followed by welcoming remarks from Dr Marjan Muhammad, Head of the Research Affairs Department, ISRA. Subsequently Mr. Bakarudin Ishak, the Assistant Governor (AG) of BNM, gave a brief introductory address. The AG stressed the importance of searching for proper plans and actions for the future success of the Islamic banking and finance industry locally and globally.

After a presentation delivered by Prof. Dr. Norma Md Saad from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), who leads the research project, an interactive panel discussion session moderated by En Musa Abdul Malek, the ex-deputy CEO of Bank Muamalat, took place. The expert panellists who constructively deliberated on the topic are as follows:

  1. Mr Rafe Haneef, CEO, HSBC Amanah Bank Berhad;
  2. Mr Kamarul Ariffin, CEO, Affin Islamic Bank Berhad;
  3. Tuan Haji Abdul Rani Lebai Jaafar, Director, Islamic Marketing, Govt, GLC & Middle East Market, RHB Capital;
  4. Mr Azidy Daud, Head of Treasury, Asian Finance Bank; and
  5. Ms Sharifah Sarah, Head of Strategic Management, Maybank Islamic Berhad.

The workshop ended with closing remarks from Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohammad Akram Laldin, the Executive Director of ISRA, who emphasized the significance of the thematic workshop as a platform for the researchers to share their main research findings with the industry practitioners.

Many valuable comments and suggestions were received from the discussants and participants to further improve the research, notably on the need to empower Islamic subsidiaries over a period of time with appropriate milestones in order to better position the Islamic banking industry in the future.