Bank must explain decision to close Bintulu branch, says CM

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 2: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Sarawak government will seek an explanation from Standard Chartered Bank over its decision to close its Bintulu branch.

However, he hoped that the bank will provide proper benefits to its employees.

“We have to find out from the bank (because) that’s the bank’s decision. If they’re closing, then the welfare of the employees has to be looked after.

“There is a mechanism, such as the VSS (Volunteer Separation Scheme). (But for that) you have to asked the (Sarawak Bank Employees’) Union,” Abang Johari told reporters after the official opening of the Congress of Union of Employees in the Public and Civil Services Malaysia (Cuepacs) Sarawak branch headquarters, along Jalan Bampfylde here today.

The chief minister was commenting on a Sarawak Bank Employees’ Union (SBEU) statement issued today. The union is seeking the Sarawak government’s intervention to protect the interest of Sarawakians, so that the bank would either defer its closure or at the very least ensure that the closure is managed in a sincere and humane manner.

According to SBEU secretary-general Law Kiat Min, the bank’s VSS offering as a means to force its Bintulu staff to leave was appalling.

“The package is the worst ever and our request for the bank through its Human Resources to improve the package has been arrogantly rejected.

“The bank’s chief executive officer has not responded to our letter. The staff are left with only two choices: take the VSS or face being uprooted from their hometown to be transferred to another town which will cause great inconvenience to them and their families.

“The bank has given little consideration that these staff have loyally served the bank with some staff having served the bank for more than 30 years and the most humane thing to do is to give them a decent exit package,” Law emphasised.

He opined that Standard Chartered Bank’s decision to close down its Bintulu branch was not in line with the state government’s efforts in turning Sarawak into a developed state by 2030.

“Instead of supporting the government’s objective of promoting the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) which is focused on Samalaju Industrial Park located within Bintulu and the government’s shared prosperity vision, Standard Chartered Bank has decided instead to desert and abandon its customers in Bintulu.

“We believe that the Bintulu branch, which has been operational for more than 60 years, is a profitable branch and we do not see any economic reason for the bank to close the branch. The bank had achieved a profit exceeding RM1 billion for the past three years and is forecasted to be on track to achieve its targeted profit for this financial year,” added Law.

When contacted, Law said the VSS offered to the affected employees was only 1.5 times salary, multiplied by the number of years of services compared to the previous amount of 2 times salary, multiplied by the number of years of services.

Law said, the Standard Chartered Bintulu branch was established more than 60 years ago and it has six staff members. — DayakDaily