Bloomberg News

Bank Islam Malaysia Suspends Chief Economist for Policy Breach

January 17, 2013

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd., the country’s oldest Shariah-compliant lender, said it suspended chief economist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin for allegedly breaching the bank’s internal policies.

Azrul, a member of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, predicted Prime Minister Najib Razak would narrowly lose Malaysia’s upcoming general election at a forum in Singapore last week, the Straits Times reported Jan. 11. In a separate article yesterday, the newspaper cited the economist as saying he was called in by the bank’s management on Jan. 14 to discuss his election prediction.

“The nature of the breaches would be established upon the completion of our investigations,” Bank Islam said in an e- mailed statement yesterday. “While we reiterate that Azrul’s political views and his comments should not be associated with the bank, we would like to stress that the suspension is not related to his voicing his personal political views.”

Azrul didn’t immediately respond to three mobile phone calls and text messages from Bloomberg News seeking comment today. The alleged policy breaches weren’t specified by Bank Islam, part of Kuala Lumpur-listed BIMB Holdings Bhd. (BIMB), in the statement.

The prime minister must dissolve parliament by April 28 for polls. Azrul forecast that the National Front could win as few as 97 of the 222 parliamentary seats in the poll, according to the Straits Times report.

Najib’s National Front coalition is seeking to hold on to power after ruling Malaysia since independence in 1957. In the last election in 2008, the governing parties lost the two- thirds majority in Parliament they had held for four decades. Anwar’s opposition alliance currently controls four out of the country’s 13 states, including Selangor and Penang.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chong Pooi Koon in Kuala Lumpur at pchong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Barry Porter in Kuala Lumpur at bporter10@bloomberg.net


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