PETALING JAYA: When Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus left Bank Negara in November 2016, it was an unceremonious affair.
There was no official announcement of her departure as deputy governor and her name was discreetly removed from the central bank’s organisation chart on its website.
If Nor Shamsiah’s appointment as Bank Negara governor is approved by the King, she would make a triumphant return to the central bank which was her home for 30 years before she left on Nov 15, 2016.
Her departure was amidst a clampdown by the previous government on people who were investigating the trail of money that flowed out of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Sources said the last day of outgoing governor, Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, is this Friday, which could also be the first day of Hari Raya. Muhammad had tendered his resignation last Wednesday after questions were raised on the central bank’s purchase of a land from the federal government for RM2bil.
The transaction was completed in January this year and the proceeds were used to pay 1MDB’s debts.
After leaving Bank Negara, Nor Shamsiah joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April last year where she was based in Washington DC. She was the assistant director of Monetary and Capital Markets Department there.
There is no official statement by the IMF stating that Nor Shamsiah has resigned but sources in the banking industry indicated that she has left the international monetary body.
So far it is not known if the consent has been sought from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to appoint Nor Shamsiah as the governor. Under Section 15 of the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009, the governor shall be appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong for a term of five years.
During Nor Shamsiah’s stint in Bank Negara, she was involved primarily in overseeing and ensuring the health of the banking sector, which is the core responsibility of the central bank in ensuring financial stability in the system.
Apart from banks, her area of supervision covered insurance and takaful companies, financial intelligence and enforcement, and talent management.
It was her oversight on the banks that saw her spearhead the investigations into 1MDB at the central bank level.
Nor Shamsiah was also involved in the financial sector resolution initiatives during the Asian financial crisis and the preparation and implementation of the Financial Sector Masterplan from 2001 to 2010.
Apart from Shamsiah, another former deputy governor of Bank Negara – Sukudhew (Sukhdave) Singh – was speculated to be making a comeback to the central bank.
However Sukhdave when contacted said he was not aware of anything to that effect.
“I’m retired and if there is any truth to the rumours you mentioned, I am not aware of it,” he said.
Both Nor Shamsiah and Sukhdave are known to be loyalists of Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
The Act also provides for up to three deputy governors for the central bank. There are now only two – Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour and Jessica Chew Cheng Lian.
Sukhdave’s last day with the bank was on Dec 31 last year.
Before his departure from Bank Negara, he delivered a parting shot, saying that his life in the bank has been based on certain professional expectations and when he found himself put in circumstances where those expectations can no longer be met, there was no other decision for him but to leave.
He had said in his e-mail to Bank Negara staff last November that when one was in a position of leadership, they have to remind themselves that leadership was a responsibility and not a privilege.