Friday, October 23, 2009

IF World Universities RANKINGS! - Need for a Capacity Building initiative by MIFC

Malaysia's top universities in Islamic finance like the International Islamic University of Malaysia(IIUM) and
The International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) which was accorded University status
were NOT included in the Times Higher Education's World Universities Rankings 2009.

The exclusion of INCEIF is not surprising considering it's a new university. However, the exclusion of IIUM of which is one of my alma matter IS!???

Islamic Finance is one of the few areas where Malaysia have a Comparative Advantage to the rest of the world having:-

  • Set-up the Pilgrims Management Board (popularly known as Tabung Haji) in 1969 with the enactment of LEMBAGA URUSAN DAN TABUNG HAJI ACT 1969 ( which has subsequently Repealed by the Tabung Haji Act 1995,

  • Incorporated the first Islamic Bank & Takaful company (Bank Islam & Takaful Malaysia respectively ) in 1983; and,

  • Introduced the dual banking system vis the Interest-Free Banking Scheme(SPTF) in 1993; and,

  • Opened-Up the Islamic Banking System to foreign Islamic Banks in 2004 even earlier than what was required for the conventional banking system under the WTO liberalisation .

Having confidence in its Islamic Banking system, BNM via MIFC should now further consolidate its first-mover advantage by introducing and/or sponsoring a World universities/Institutions rankings for IF. Am sure the 2 named universities...if not other local universities will feature in the top 50 IF institutions if such a ranking were introduced.......SOON!

Over to you BNM & MIFC.


Author's comments re IF rankings at the Times Higher Education website. Refer:-

Comment made under the name of "Amirul HM" on 21st October 2009.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"INDONESIA - Access to Islamic Finance for SMEs" - WORLD BANK RFP

The WORLD BANK has recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP), titled:-
" INDONESIA - Access to Islamic Finance for SMEs "
( Project Code TF 093571 #8038 )

6 organisations/firms have been short-listed to prepare the RFP. They are:-
  1. Deloitte Consulting Malaysia Sdn Bhd ( MALAYSIA )
  2. e.Gen Consultants Ltd. ( BANGLADESH )
  3. Frankfurt School of Finance & Management ( GERMANY )
  4. NORC
  5. PLaNet Finance ( FRANCE )
  6. P.T. Ernst & Young Advisory Services ( INDONESIA )

Considering the West's animosity towards Islam and anything-related to Islam, the RFP is certainly an interesting development.

The Author is of the view that the World Bank's RFP initiative highlights the emergence and importance of both:-

    ~ as an attractive Investment destination. Based on available data at the ASEAN Secretariat(ASEC) and Economic Research Institute for ASEAN & East Asia(ERIA)...both located in Jakarta, Indonesia is one of the few ASEAN countries that is expected to chart positive economic growth in 2009.

    Note: Author was an Intern at The ASEAN Secretariat in 2009 and visited ERIA in July 2009 ( refer ERIA Blog Post on 2 July 2009

    ~ as a preferred source of financing. It is highly probable that the World Bank have taken cognisance of the fact that IF have remained largely intact and unscatched in the present economic downturn, unlike its conventional banking and finance cousins who's taken a terrible beating!

via an e-mail dated 22nd August 2009,
Blog Author received an invitation to participate in this RFP by one of the 6 firms shortlisted by the World Bank

Friday, August 7, 2009


Am writing a Chapter titled " Capacity Building for Islamic Finance in Malaysia & ASEAN ". Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hamidin Abd. Hamid (Dep. Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Institute, U.Malaya) will be my supervisor for this topic.

Research thus far have only churn out 1, ... that's right ONLY ONE Journal Article of note i.e. an ILSP- Harvard Law School article by S.Nazim Ali titled " Islamic Finance and Economics as Reflected in Research & Publications ".

Other pertinent non-journal articles includes:
  1. AIBIM - 1 June 2009;
    " Islamic Banking in ASEAN: don't fly too high!

Triangulation approach is the research methodology method to be used for this topic. The approach will however be more skewed towards the qualitative aspects i.e. interviews.

Places/Persons where Interviews on IF were conducted to-date:
A) INDONESIA - Jakarta & Bandung ( May - July 2009 )
B) MALAYSIA - Kuala Lumpur
  • Tan Sri Sanusi Junid

  • Prof. Saiful Azhar Rosly

  • Mr. Khairil Abdullah

Appreciate any suggestions for me to proceed further on this topic especially on recommended journal articles, conference papers etc.


Friday, July 17, 2009

time is RIPE for an ASEAN definition of an SME!

( June 2009: Author - on the right,
with ASEAN Secretary-General, H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan)

In most countries, SMEs formed the backbone of the economy be it in terms of the number of people employed, sales generated and other economic indicators.

Hence, I personally find it strange and surprising that despite the existence of an ASEAN SME Blueprint appearing in the ILO Report and the more recent Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, 2009-2015(C.1. SME Development, No.60 ), there is still no single ASEAN definition of what constitutes an ASEAN SME to-date!

Perhaps, the wide array of SME interpretation by different countries makes it difficult for ASEAN to come out with a standardised definition of an SME. For example:-
  • INDONESIA: Different ministries, have "different interpretations" of what constitutes an SME.

  • Singapore: Due to the "Currency Conversion" factor, what is normally considered as an SME company in Singapore DOES NOT qualify as one within the ASEAN context. Singaporean SMEs can be MNCs in some ASEAN countries.
  • MALAYSIA: The policy-makers have defined SMEs within certain parameters. They are sales turnover, no. of employees and/or type of industry. Refer to SMIDEC (now renamed "SME Corp") for Malaysia's definition.

Considering the existence of the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, I find it even stranger that SME data is NOT readily available when the writer conducted interviews at ASEC & ERIA. Perhaps, the very nature of SMEs i.e. non-availability of published data and its "unsexyness" is a turn-off for most researchers!?

Whatever the situation is, the author hopes that the ASEAN SME definition can be finalised
...the Sooner the Better!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

ERIA, Jakarta VISIT ( 2 July 2009)

Went to the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia - ERIA today with my AEI friends i.e. Azrul Shahreen & Zikry Kholil for a 10am appointment.

Purpose of the visit was two-pronged i.e. to understand the functions and workings of ERIA and to gather data on SMEs and Islamic Finance which would be pertinent for my research paper.

Am honoured and very thankful that 2 researchers i.e. Ms. Friska Parulian & Mr. Sothea Oum took time off from their busy schedule to brief us about ERIA and to answer my questions on Economics/Finance generally and on Islamic Finance and SMEs specifically. In addition, we were given copies of the latest Policy Brief on "Global Financial Crisis and Policy Responses in Southeast Asia" and a draft of a future Policy Brief as well. Quite pleased to hear that the researcher "liked" Malaysia's Stimulus Package response to the Global Financial Meltdown.

Thank you again to Mr. Sothea Oum for extending me a copy of the ERIA Research Project Report, No.5 titled "Asian SMEs and Globalization".

My heartfelt thanks to Miss Arlene Taulu of the ASEAN Secretariat for making the visit arrangements and to Ms. Mitsuko Takayanagi for receiving us and bringing us around.

BANDUNG Fact-Finding Trip & SME Data Gathering (29 June - 1 July 2009)

I visited Bandung on Monday, 29th June - 1 st July 2009.

Purpose of the visit was as a fact-finding trip to observe an Indonesian SME and to gather relevant data on Indonesian SMEs pertinent to my research on SMEs & Islamic Finance. Visited the School of Business & Management, Institut Teknologi Bandung (SBM-ITB),Bandung & Central Refill...both for the second time.

Some interesting observations:-
  • There's NO standard definition of an SME in Indonesia. Different ministries will have different criteria. ( In Malaysia, a SME as defined by SMIDEC is mainly based on sales turnover, number of employees and/or type of industry )

  • The government's subsidised micro-credit rate of 6-8% p.a. is similar to Malaysia's commercial lending rate ( Indonesia's commercial lending rate is between 12-18%).

  • Collaboration between Banks and Universities to render micro-credit assistance to deserving SMEs. Thus, adding another layer to the credit vetting process.

  • Slow take-up rate of e-commerce due to security/fraud, technology and other issues.
Thank you to Dr. Dwi Larso of SBM-ITB for the assistance rendered and to Mr. Rohimat Fauzi for sharing the data collected and information on the workings of his own SME(called Central Refill) and also for being such a gracious host. Appreciation to Miss Hiftin Harzanty for acting as our local guide.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Conducting Survey on Using Islamic Finance to Strengthen Malaysian SME & Government Participation

Dear Readers,

Please email to if you can participate in my survey or, know of somebody who is willing to participate.

My area of survey/research is on Islamic Finance(IF) generally and more specifically on "Using IF to strengthen Government & SME participation".

Thank you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

FIRST Islamic Finance 5years

Just had my first Islamic Finance(IF) presentation in 5 years. It was for our "Accounting & Financial Tools for SMEs" class under the IMSME programme at AEI-UM.

It was also the first time that I'm co-presenting with a non-IF practitioner. Thank you Miss Penny Siew for your efforts on the presentation slides and the presentation itself.

Those Interested to checkout our slides....please go to or,

Thank you Prof. Manfred Pollanz for your valuable insights esp. from the Germans' and/or Europeans' perspective!