Royal Address at the Launch of the Book - Capital Market in Malaysia: Past, Present and Future
Speaker: His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah
Location: Securities Commission Malaysia, Bukit Kiara Kuala Lumpur
Delivered: 7 March 2024

  1. It is a pleasure for me to be here this morning to launch this remarkable book, which commemorates an even more remarkable achievement. Back in 1993, the Securities Commission Malaysia was established to regulate, strengthen and grow our capital market. More than thirty years later, here we are, with this impressive volume as a testament to the achievements, the challenges, and the collective human effort that has gone into the SC’s journey so far.
  2. I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt congratulations to all those involved in the making of this book and, by extension, the making of the SC into the globally revered institution it is today. In particular, I would like to commend the present Chairman of the SC, Dato’ Seri Awang Adek Hussin, whose vision for this book as a “compendium of wisdom and knowledge” truly has been realised. I would also like to applaud the brilliant efforts of the main writer, Jennifer Jacobs, and all those involved in writing, editing and producing this book. I think it is fair to say that you have thoroughly met the brief!
  3. The first thing that struck me, upon opening and browsing through Capital Market in Malaysia, is the sheer number of people whose words and ideas contribute to its pages. From the various Chairmen to the Deputy Chief Executives, the senior management team, key industry partners, and stakeholders around the world, there are over twenty-five named individuals who share their unique perspectives in this volume. And that is not to mention all those who feature in photographs of the SC’s Journey.
  4. This book really pays tribute to the power of the team – to the way in which individual minds, voices and talents have come together across the decades, to build the SC into an internationally celebrated regulatory body. On the book’s very first page is a quote from Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, our country’s first Ambassador to the United States as well as the United Nations, at the very dawn of our nation’s independence in 1957, which proclaims that “our basic strength lies not in material things, but in the moral character and purposes of our people”.1 Nearly 70 years later, what better legacy for this statement than the brilliant contributions captured in these pages?
  5. Across three decades of the SC’s history, we discover how key figures within the organization perceived and approached the unique challenges of their day – from Tan Sri Munir Majid, the very first Chairman of the SC, who navigated a young institution through the Asian Financial Crisis; to Datuk Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, in the run-up to and during Covid-19, who had to rapidly reconfigure plans for sustainable growth in the wake of the pandemic. As well as gaining insights into the handling of such crises, we also learn how individuals have sought to tackle longer-term, more systemic problems. For instance, during his tenure, Chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof strove to internationalize the Malaysian market, allowing five foreign stockbroking companies and five foreign fund management companies to operate in the country. And Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar, the first female Chairman of the SC, sought in her time to increase custodial sentences for capital market offences in a crack-down on corruption, and also set in motion policies to increase gender diversity across company boards.
  6. What I particularly enjoyed about the way this book delivers its contributors’ stories is that there is also space for those truly human moments. We get a real and, I think, important insight into the lives touched by global events – into how the personal and economic intersect. How typical, for instance, that the Asian Financial Crisis should begin in earnest just as Tan Sri Ranjit Singh (another Chairman of the SC) set off on his honeymoon! And how wonderfully down-to-earth that, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, Chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar decided staff could swap suits for jeans and sneakers, to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible in an unprecedentedly stressful time.
  7. While these and other such anecdotes might be taken as somewhat frivolous details, there to add colour, I believe they are more than this. They are a reminder of the real lives, the real sacrifices, the real relationships and camaraderie upon which the SC has been built. I for one think it is important to immortalize that on paper, along with the major institutional achievements. Strengthening institutions goes hand in hand with empowering their people.
  8. And those achievements certainly have been staggering. Less than two decades after the SC was founded, Malaysia was awarded 92% in a comprehensive Financial Sector Assessment by the IMF and the World Bank – among the highest score for any emerging economy.2 This highlights the monumental work undertaken by the SC in that almost 20-year period, to regulate and strengthen Malaysia’s capital markets. Looking to more recent times, meanwhile, as of April 2023, a total of RM 22.2 billion had been issued under the SC’s Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk Framework:3 a hugely significant step towards a more sustainable and ethical economy, not just for Malaysia but for the world.
  9. Underlying these and countless other achievements recorded in this book is the SC’s incredible foresight. Again and again in its pages, we encounter stories of SC staff advising caution at the national and international level just before a crisis struck. Tan Sri Munir Majid saw the warning signs of the market “super boom” ahead of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. The SC’s own report on the causes and effects of this financial crisis called for regulation
    of international hedge funds around a decade before the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, and although the advice was not necessarily acted upon, it rightly earned the SC global credibility and influence in retrospect.
  10. As crucial as contingency planning is, moreover, what sets the SC apart is not simply its ability to anticipate risks: it is its wholehearted embrace of the future. The SC’s second Chairman, Datuk Ali Abdul Kadir, comments in this book that his role, as he saw it, was to have a vision and a plan for how the capital markets should look in the future. And this proactive spirit of looking forward shines through across the book – for instance, in an interview which observes that instead of complaining about new Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rules, market stakeholders should be viewing them as a new way to create value for the modern world.
  11. Over the years, I have had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Oxford Roundtables organized between the Securities Commission Malaysia and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. There, too, we see the forward-looking, far-sighted quality of this institution, with recent roundtable themes highlighting such topics as stewardship, investment towards the common good, the stakeholder economy, and social and impact investment. These roundtables have particularly emphasized the role of Islamic finance in relation to all these topics, and the SC is certainly a pioneer in this area, becoming the industry’s global trendsetter. I have mentioned already its SRI Sukuks: just one example of an institution striving for an economic future which is not merely
    Halal but Tayyib – sustainable, inclusive, and equitable.4
  12. Throughout its impressive history, the SC has been ahead of the curve – and although some crises, like the pandemic, cannot be anticipated, this forward planning has allowed the SC to navigate choppy waters, while never losing sight of longer-term goals and trends. The feature articles in this book, I believe, are yet another manifestation of this far-sighted vision. In the first feature article, for instance, the writers emphasize the ever-increasing importance of corporate governance in rapidly changing, unpredictable times. Corporate governance, they argue, must provide the framework within which companies can then be flexible and innovative, ensuring always a solid foundation of public confidence.5
  13. Regulation is not there to be a blocker, but rather an enabler, smoothing the path to progress. Indeed, in this sense the SC epitomises what is – as the book’s foreword points out – so often overlooked about Adam Smith’s seminal “invisible hand” theory:6 that free markets require a foundation of morality and the check of government oversight in order to prosper. This also chimes well with the long tradition of hisbah in Islam – the individual as well as the collective duty to uphold the rule of law, best expressed in the Qur’anic maxim of ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong’:

  1. The fourth feature article in the book, meanwhile, explores how technical advancements are transforming the markets with growing rapidity. It emphasizes the many benefits and opportunities of this – increased transparency, democratization, boosted efficiency – while also highlighting the risks that must be managed.8 Again, guidelines and regulations are not there to deter innovation: they are, indeed, what make innovation possible, serving as guardrails to ensure the safe and rapid adoption of new technology. Through these and other feature articles, Capital Market in Malaysia does what the SC has always done so effectively, and looks forward as well as back, setting out a kind of blueprint for the continued growth of the economy.
  2. It occurs to me that, in generational terms, the Securities Commission Malaysia would be classed as a Millennial. And reflecting on many of the traits typically associated with Millennials, the label indeed seems a fitting one. The SC is, after all, environmentally conscious, working to advance the sustainability agenda through its SRI Sukuk initiatives. It is switched on to the transformative power of digital solutions, as is evident from the feature article on technology I referred to a moment ago. It is, moreover, thoughtful and measured in its approach to growth. Born out of an era of booming, unregulated profit, it has witnessed first-hand the turbulent times that followed. It values financial responsibility and prudence as the route to sustainable growth.
  3. Now mostly in their thirties, Millennials have been making their mark on the workplace and the world for many years. They are influential, impactful: their ethics and outlook on everything from the environment to technology are increasingly prominent. Yet their
    biggest years, the years in which they will have the power to truly change the world, are still to come. I firmly believe the same is true of the SC. In setting out the achievements and challenges – the journey, if you will – of the first thirty years, this book also charts a course into the future. This is a future in which ethical, sustainable finance, and growth with responsibility, will be needed more than ever before. I, for one, am excited to see the SC lead the way in steering the world towards a brighter future.
  4. On that note, I would like to take a moment before I finish to wish Muslims in this hall and across the globe a blessed and happy Ramadan; to send my very best wishes to Christians currently observing the period of Lent; and to wish for peace and hope in 2024 for people of all denominations around the world.
  5. Congratulations, once again, to the Securities Commission, and to all those involved in making this impressive book. And, with that, I officially send Capital Market in Malaysia: Past, Present and Future out into the world!

  1. Jeniffer Jacobs (ed.), Capital Market in Malaysia: Past, Present and Future (Kuala Lumpur: Securities Commission Malaysia, 2024), i.
  2. Capital Market in Malaysia, 108.
  3. Capital Market in Malaysia, 147.
  4. Sultan Nazrin Shah, “Impact Investing as an Extension to the Islamic Economy”, Special Address at the 10th SC-OCIS Roundtable, Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom (23 March 2019).
  5. Capital Market in Malaysia, 130-40.
  6. Capital Market in Malaysia, vii. Relating to the economic theories of Adam Smith (d. 1790), in this case, the entrepreneur seeks profit and the common good should follow.
  7. Mentioned 9 times in the Qur’an, the famous of which is in Surah Al ‘Imran, 3:104.
  8. Capital Market in Malaysia, 320-34.
about the SC
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) was established on 1 March 1993 under the Securities Commission Act 1993 (SCA). We are a self-funded statutory body entrusted with the responsibility to regulate and develop the Malaysian capital market.

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