Good Leadership and Strong Governance Remain Essential: Welcome Address by Tan Sri Azman Hashim


Assalamualaikum and a very good morning,

Welcome to the Perdana Leadership Foundation CEO Forum 2019.

It is nice to see everyone here bright and early, warming up the brain cells for the sessions to come. We do have quite a few lined up that we expect will be thought-provoking.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

1. I recently read the story of investors of a founder of a currency exchange who died, and left his investors frozen out of their funds. How was this possible?


2. The currency in question are all-digital crypto-currencies, mostly Bitcoins, and when the founder died, he took to his grave the sole password to the digital vault. So, his investors could not access their US$190 million worth of Bitcoins. Even his widow didn’t have the password.


3.Eventually, the auditors managed to open the vault, only to find it was almost completely empty! The FBI and the Canadian police are now investigating.


4.This, I suppose, is our modern version of opening a safe and finding your stash of notes and coins gone. The loss would have the same effect, I would imagine, whether the notes are physical or digital.


5.But the story also got me thinking that:

– One, regulations have not caught up with the digital world. For example, we brick and mortar banks are subjected to a mountain of rules and regulations even to keep RM1,000 of depositor funds! But this guy was able to collect US$190 million worth, even though he was only a one-man operation.

– Two, despite the progress of technology and all the wonders it brings, we are all still human, and no matter how sophisticated the system, there are going to be people who will be able to game the system to their advantage.


6. The above story illustrates the opportunities – as well as the risks – of technological progress.


7. This is the reason why we chose the theme “Accelerating the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Malaysia” because, whether we like it or not, the changes are already happening, and as business leaders, we have no choice but to adapt to the changes.


8. But we have to do this with all of our faculties alert, because entering new terrain without a good grasp of its geography or how the winds are blowing, can result in an expensive disaster.

9. Today, the Forum is arranged such that we can learn first about the big picture that makes up the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how our businesses fit, and later, to delve into issues specific to sectors or business areas.


10. Despite the uncertainties of our times, though, and all the new, shiny implications of technology, I am certain of this: good leadership and strong governance remain essential to business and economic progress.


11. For this reason, as a member of the business community, I am in full support of the present government’s wholehearted efforts to combat corruption. The empowerment of the MACC, the strengthening of institutions of checks and balances, and the crackdowns on errant officers, are good beginnings that should be followed through – and followed through firmly with no fear or favour even if it involves members of the new Government. This will give out strong and the right signals to everyone and the market.

12. I am also heartened by the emphases made by government – especially by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – that it remains pro-business. The business sector would especially welcome clear policy guidelines and economic vision in this regard. I believe Malaysia’s economic progress through the decades is testament to the role that the business sector has played in its development. The business sector is a big contributor to the country’s tax collection.


13. I am also confident that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – the leader who hauled Malaysia out of agriculture into industrial development, and pushed Malaysians to embrace the internet when we all thought The Web was something to do with spiders – is able to steer his new Cabinet with a steady hand and clear vision.


14. It is indeed a privilege and an honour to be able to host YAB Tun at this Forum, and we will all be able to interact with the Prime Minister at the Closing Session, something that I am sure everyone here is looking forward to.


Ladies & Gentlemen:


15. This is our seventh CEO Forum. Our aim with each one is to bring business leaders and government representatives together in one forum, and to document the points raised in each session. The Forum is also a fundraiser for the Foundation which is a non-profit non-government entity set up in 2003 for a public purpose: to research, archive, and disseminate materials related to the past Prime Ministers of Malaysia.


16. This year, we hope to compile our notes to present to the government, as possible reference by policymakers. So, delegates and panellists, we would especially welcome policy suggestions at each of the Sessions here today.


Ladies and Gentlemen:


17. Organising a Forum such as this takes a lot of hard work. Thank You to the organising team of PLF for their efforts. We appreciate also the presence of students of IIUM who are our event volunteers.


18. This Forum would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of EY as Major Sponsor (thank you, Dato’ Rauf), and Berjaya Corp as Venue Sponsor.


19. Thank you also to our Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsors: Westports, Naza, Sapura, Dynac, and Iris Corp; Ambank and KL Kepong; NUR Power, TIME, EBDesk, Symphony Life, Bina Puri, and CIMB.

20. We are deeply grateful to the 40 experienced, and interesting people who accepted our invitation to be panellists at this Forum.


21. We are also thankful to the 400 equally experienced, and interesting delegates who are here today to interact with the panellists! The panellists will share insights and ideas, to which I hope delegates will respond with comments and questions.


Ladies and Gentlemen:


22. The opportunity to interact with business leaders and leaders of government does not come often.

23. I urge everyone to make the best use of today to build new connections, whether they be in terms of ideas or acquaintances.

24. With that, on behalf of the Board of Trustees of PERDANA LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION, I declare the CEO FORUM 2019 officially open.


Thank You.