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1998: New rules Clob-ber investors

Suharto resigns amid protests, Mahathir sacks Anwar.
Monday, June 6, 2016 - 05:50
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THE biggest news stories of 1998 had their roots in Singapore's neighbouring countries as they dealt with economic and political turbulence in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

On Aug 31, Malaysia banned trading of Malaysian shares on Clob International as an unrecognised exchange, driving the first stake into the heart of the over-the-counter platform that had been created in 1990 in response to the delisting of Malaysian companies from the Singapore stock market.

The derecognition of Clob was followed a day later by harsh capital controls in Malaysia that prohibited the conversion of the ringgit outside of the country.

The result hit close to 200,000 investors, most of them Singaporean, whose investments had become illiquid duds overnight.

It would take two years and numerous back-and-forths between the Singapore and Malaysian governments to resolve the saga. In that time the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) was formed to provide a collective voice for the Clob investors. Today, Sias is one of the most prominent retail investor advocacy groups in Singapore.

Malaysia's controversial moves in 1998 to protect its currency and to save its economy also created its own domestic victims, the most notable of whom was Anwar Ibrahim, who was removed as deputy to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad by the premier himself. It was believed that a chasm had emerged between Mr Anwar, who had been tabbed as the next Prime Minister, and Mr Mahathir over differences in how closely to follow harsh conditions set by the International Monetary Fund.

The financial crisis hit many political careers, and few were bigger or longer than that of Suharto, who stepped down after 32 years as President of Indonesia amid widespread unrest in the country. Mr Suharto's departure ushered in a wave of political and economic reforms in Indonesia that are still felt today.

The Business Times has been there to report and analyse the most significant news since 1976. Every week, this feature will showcase excerpts from the biggest stories for each year that the paper has been in operation. The full text of all the stories can be found online at bt.sg/bt_40

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