by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 28th June, 1993:
Call on Finance Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to encourage and assist the organisation of the over 10 million holders of savings and current accounts in banks and finance companies into one body to protect their rights and demand the repeal of unfair and one-sided contracts imposed on them by banks and finance companies
The 70 people who lost valuables kept in their safe deposit boxes during the recent break-in at the MBF Finance Kajang branch should be commended for organising themselves into a committee to demand Bank Negara action to protect their interests.
The customers of the MBF Finance Kajang branch are the real victims of the ‘great theft’ of the MBF Finance Kajang Branch safe-deposit boxes, as the MBF chief executive officer, Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong has disclaimed liability for the MBF on the ground that the clients had signed such a contrat with the MBF for the use for the safe-deposit boxes.
Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong’s statement is most shocking as it is completely out of character with his image as a philanthropist as no one who is in a position of power and wealth and who really cares for the welfare of the ordinary people would use such contracts which are so one-sided and unfair.
The victims of the MBF Kajang branch safe-deposit boxes theft passed several resolutions yesterday, including:
Urging Bank Negara to step in to investigate the break-in;
Seeking Bank Negara’s assistance to come up with a formula for a reasonable compensation for the victims and
Urging the police to step up investigation to apprehend those responsible for the break-in .
The plight of the victims of the MBF Finance Kajang Branch theft of the safe-deposit boxes following the statement by Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong disclaiming liability for the losses suffered by them should be a ‘eye-opener’ to all users of the safe-deposit boxes in finance companies and banks as to the need to demand that there should be greater protection of their interests.
In this sense, the victims of the BMF Finance Kajang branch theft of the safe-deposit boxes are not only fighting for a just compensation for their losses, but to protect the rights of all the users of safe-deposit boxes in other MBF finance branches, as well as in other banks and finance companies as well.
In fact, the time has come for the over 10 million holders of savings and current accounts, users of safe-deposit boxes in banks and finance companies to organise themselves into a body to protect their rights and demand the repeal of one-sided and unfair contracts imposed on them by banks and finance companies.
For instance, the proposed increase of service charges submitted to the Bank Negara by the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) would involve an extra burden of at least RM400 million a year on the bank customers. Was there any attempt by the Association of Banks or Bank Negara to seek the views or feedbacks of the over 10 million customers of banks in the country?
The Salangor and Federal Territory Consumers Association had estimated that the banks would rake in at least RM400 million more a year if the new bank services charges are approved based on just three types of fees in the 37 commercial banks.
For instance, the banks stood to earn RM225 million yearly just by charging RM24 service fee on the 9.8 million savings accounts. They will also rake in an extra RM120 million yearly from the RM12 fee to be levied on each ATM card based on 10 million savings and current accounts and another RM50 million from the RM20 fee on each of the 2.5 million current accounts.
There is no doubt that these increase of service charges in banks would be followed suit by the finance companies on their various services in the country.
I call on the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, to encourage and assist in the formation of an organisation to represent over 10 million customers in the banks and finance companies to protect their rights from unilateral, one-sided and unfair contracts imposed on them by banks and finance companies, like the disclaimer against liability on the use of safe-deposit boxes.
Until such an organisation is established which could speak on behalf of the over ten million customers in banks and finance companies, the Government should suspend all consideration of the proposal by the banks for increase of service charges which would only enable the banks to benefit at the expenses of the ordinary public.