Bank Negara: Sukhdave Opts Out, Chew Assumes Deputy Governor Post

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Citing that his “professional expectations” can no longer be met, Sukhdave makes sudden announcement of early retirement while Ministry of Finance approves appointment of Chew as deputy governor.


  • Deputy governor Sukhdave Singh sudden ‘early retirement’ midway through his 3-year term
  • Served under Zeti
  • Among the favourites to take over as BNM governor
  • Holds a PhD in Monetary and International Economics from Vanderbilt University in the US


  • Assistant governor Jessica Chew Cheng Lian will assume the post of deputy governor for a 3-year term effective Jan 1 next year
  • Joined BNM 24 years ago
  • Has over 20 years’ experience in financial regulation and supervision
  • Holds a Bachelor in Commerce majoring in accounting and finance from the University of Melbourne

In a one-page note to his friends and colleagues, out-going Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) deputy governor Dr Sukhdave Singh said he had no decision but to leave earlier than the expiry of his contract on April 15, 2019.

“All I can say is that my life in the Bank has been based on certain professional expectations, and when I find myself put in circumstances where those expectations can no longer be met, there could have been no other decision for me,” said Sukhdave.

His emotional note followed the shock announcement of his `early retirement’ on Nov 28.

Sukhdave was assistant governor and chief economist from 2009 until he was appointed a deputy governor in April 2013.

He had served under the former governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz until she stepped down in April 2016.

Singh was named among the favourites to take over, but fellow deputy governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim was appointed to replace Zeti.

In his note, Sukhdave thanked his colleagues over the years since he joined the bank 31 years ago, saying “no one gets to my position without the help of others”.

He also reminded his colleagues that “leadership is a responsibility and not a privilege”.

“Remember that nothing shines a brighter light into the depths of your character than your behaviour when you believe that you have power over others.”

The Independent

 Depriving subordinates of opportunities, he remarked, is not leadership.

“It is also never acceptable to use bullying as a means to exert your leadership. Respect yourself; respect those who work for you,” he added.

Asyraf Hamzah

In his parting words to his subordinates, he said:

“If I have contributed to your own professional success, I am glad; but you do not need to thank me. Pay it forward – be a part of someone else’s success.”

His note did not say where he was headed for after his last day at the bank on December 31.

Finance industry officials did not discount the prospects of Sukhdave, who holds a PhD in Monetary and International Economics from Vanderbilt University in the US, being offered a position in an international financial advisory body.

“Sukhdave’s early retirement does not come as a surprise. He was an economist like Zeti and probably was more comfortable with her style of doing things,” The Star quoted a source as saying.

Zeti had served as Bank Negara governor since 2000 and saw the Malaysian banking system through its toughest period when the consolidation of financial institutions was at its peak.

However, in her last 18 months at the helm of Bank Negara, the well-respected central banker hogged the limelight for its investigations into the banking transactions related to 1MDB.

In a statement, BNM expressed its appreciation and gratitude to Sukhdave for his contribution and illustrious career with the bank.

“As a retiree, Sukhdave will enjoy the benefits accorded under the terms and conditions of the bank,” it said.

Following his resignation, the central bank has only one deputy governor now – Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour.

The other deputy governor post was left vacant on Nov 15 last year when Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus was not re-appointed after the end of her tenure. She is now an assistant director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington after leaving the bank in November last year.

Under Section 14 of the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009, the central bank can have up to three deputy governors.

Section 18 of the same Act stated that the Finance Minister may appoint a deputy governor if the post becomes vacant before the expiry of term.

In the statement from BNM, it also announced that the Minister of Finance had approved the appointment of Jessica Chew Cheng Lian as deputy governor for a three-year term effective January 1, 2018.

Chew joined BNM in 1993 and has over 20 years experience in financial sector regulation and supervision. She holds a Bachelor in Commerce majoring in accounting and finance from the University of Melbourne.

She is currently the assistant governor responsible for the development of regulations and policies in the banking and insurance sectors focusing on efficiency, innovation, market institutions and structures, development finance and talent development.

In addition, she is responsible for payment systems development and regulation and oversight of the money services business.

Chew is also a member of BNM’s Monetary Policy Committee and the Financial Stability Committee.

As deputy governor, she will be responsible for the financial sector’s regulation and development including payment systems, organisational development sector and centralised shared services.

In line with her appointment, deputy governor Abdul Rasheed will oversee the monetary and economic sector, supervision sector, investment and operations sector as well as LINK and BNM offices, finance and legal departments effective Jan 1, 2018.

Related report: June 26, Bank Negara Powerless to Prosecute 1MDB, Says Former Governor