MPs rap banks over unfair charges, rules

  • Nation
  • Friday, 05 Sep 2003

At the Dewan Rakyat

BANKS have come under fire from MPs who are upset with what they say are unfair charges, absurd rules and incompetency. 

Mah Siew Keong (BN – Teluk Intan) hit out at banks which require their customers to have at least RM1,000 to open an account. 

“Bank Negara should direct banks not to fix such an unreasonable sum so that more people can enjoy the facility,” he said when debating the Banking and Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill. 

Teresa Kok (DAP – Seputeh) claimed that there was a bank which imposed a 50 sen service charge for withdrawals of more than four times a month using the automated teller machines (ATMs) if the customer had less than RM5,000 in his account. 

“This practice began in May. Many customers are unaware about it because the bank has not made it clear to them,” she said, adding that another bank charged RM2 for each cash cheque since July. 

Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah (BN – Tambun) pressed for an accurate indication regarding the standard of Malaysia’s banking sector. 

“I have travelled to countries like India where I can see banks like HSBC all over the place but there is no sign of our local banks making inroads there,” he said, referring to the need for banks to be competitive. 

He also questioned the banks’ efforts in research and IT, saying “others are so much more advanced, we are still crawling.” 

He also pointed out about a training centre for bank CEOs, which he said should have been set up to train officers instead of the top executives.  

Parliamentary secretary Hashim Ismail wound-up the debate by saying that Bank Negara should review the 50 sen service charge for ATM withdrawals exceeding four times a month. 

He had said earlier that Bank Negara and the Government felt the charge was reasonable and the banks could use the money to upgrade their ATM infrastructure to enable the usage of smart card application. 

He also said it was up to the banks whether they wanted to impose the service charge or the annual fees. 

Hashim, however, “gave in” when Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad (BN – Parit Sulong) intervened and supported Kok’s view, saying that the ministry and Bank Negara should introduce a standard regulation for electronic banking, which included security and legal compliance by banks to protect consumers’ rights.  

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