The three advisors are Federal Territory Mufti Datuk Haji Md Hashim Haji Yahya, Chief Justice of Syariah and Director-General of the Department of Syariah Judiciary Datuk Sheikh Ghazali Haji Abdul Rahman and Dean of the Centre for Post Graduate Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia Dr Mohd Daud Bakar.
However, Deputy Finance Minister Chan Kong Choy had informed Parliament last Wednesday (November 28, 2001) that EPF had introduced the “haram” and “halal” concept for stocks and shares after appointing consultants “well-versed in syariah (Islamic) laws as advisers on the fund’s investment portfolios” and that EPF would not invest anymore in the “sin stocks” and would dispose of its existing holdings of these “sin stocks” when the share market improves.
Chan made this disclosure in Parliament last Wednesday when he replied to a question by the PAS Youth leader and MP for Pokok Sena, Mahfuz Omar as to how EPF’s investments in British American Tobacco, Genting, Resorts World and Guiness Anchor could be reconciled with the government’s claim that Malaysia is an Islamic state.
It is now clear that Chan had deliberately misled Parliament and abused his parliamentary privilege last Wednesday when he told MPs that EPF had appointed syariah advisors (Malaysiakini 28.11.2001), when the three advisors were only appointed on Saturday on December 1.
Last Friday, I had objected to the arbitrary change of the EPF investment policy by introducing the “haram” and “halal” concept to stocks and shares without seeking the views of the 10 million EPF contributors, and I had demanded to know when the EPF Board took such a policy decision not to make any more investments in “haram” stocks and to divest all the existing “sin stocks”, who were the consultants appointed by the EPF and how much are they being paid.
Nik Affrendi’s announcement is clearly in response to my query.
Be that as it may, Chong Kong Choy had been caught out in misleading MPs last Wednesday and he should apologise for abuse of parliamentary privilege in stating that EPF had appointed syariah advisors to introduce the “haram” and “halal” concept for equities when the three syariah advisors were only appointed four days later.
The ten million EPF contributors who have a total of about RM200 billion EPF monies, some RM40 billion of which are invested in equities, are entitled to be fully informed and consulted before a new EPF policy is introduced classifying stocks and shares into “halal” and “haram” categories.
While the views of EPF members who do not wish their EPF monies to be invested in gaming, tobacco and liquor stocks should be fully respected, the wishes of EPF members who want such investments to ensure high returns for their savings are equally entitled to full respect.
EPF should introduce two separate investment funds for equities to comply with the wishes of EPF members who do not want their savings to be invested in gaming, tobacco and liquor stocks as well as to respect the choice of EPF members who want the highest returns for their savings by investing in the “haram” stocks
Mahfuz was wrong when he said in Parliament during question time on Wednesday that the EPF owned RM571.1 million worth of stocks in British American Tobacco (BAT), as according to my information, EPF currently holds some 20 million BAT shares worth RM685 million.
There seems to be something “fishy” in EPF accountability and transparency to the 10 million EPF members, when the Deputy Finance Minister could mislead MPs last Wednesday about the EPF appointment of syariah advisors which is contradicted four days later by the EPF public relations manager announcing the appointment of three syariah advisors only with effect from December 1, 2001.
The EPF members and the Malaysian public are entitled to know who approved the appointment of the three syariah advisors, whether it is by the EPF Board or only by the EPF Investment Panel without the knowledge or consent of the EPF Board and the workers’ representatives on the EPF Board, such as the MTUC president Senator Zainal Rampak, the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services president N. Sivasubramaniam and the Sarawak Bank Employees Union general-secretary Andrew Lo Kian Nyan.
Was this new EPF policy adopted after the Prime Minister’s announcement at the Gerakan delegates conference on Sept. 29, 2001 so that Chan Kong Choy could answer in Parliament to the PAS query as to how EPF investments in “haram” stocks like the gaming, tobacco and liquor counters could be reconciled to the government’s claim that Malaysia is an Islamic state?
The Cabinet, at its meeting on Wednesday, should review the new EPF policy to introduce the concept of “halal” and “haram” for stocks and shares, and ensure that the new EPF policy would not be detrimental to the interests of EPF members who want to have higher dividends by investing their savings in gaming, tobacco and liquor stocks, whether BAT, Genting, Resorts World, Tanjong, Berjaya Sports Toto, Magnum Bhd, Guiness Anchor or Carlsberg.