Cryptocurrency ‘Neither Legal nor Illegal’ – Malaysian government still confused

Malaysia’s government is still in a dilemma with regards to legalizing cryptocurrencies and has yet not been able to make up its mind on what should be done with cryptocurrencies. The situation was reported by the New Straits Times, the English language local media, on January 12.

In November last year, the Malaysian finance minister, Lim Guan Eng had cautioned companies from issuing new tokens as it was still waiting for clear instructions on the matter from the central bank. He stated, “Don’t do it without Bank Negara’s guidelines or directive on the matter to avoid doing something wrong and against the law.”

On the contrary, Malaysia’s Federal Territories Minister stated that the government is unclear on the situation and no decision has been taken yet on whether cryptocurrencies are legal or illegal.

When a query with respect to the legal status of cryptocurrency was raised, Khalid Abdul Samad, the Malaysian Federal Territories Minister, said it’s “neither legal nor illegal” He further added that “People have asked me if these currencies are legal or illegal, [but] At the moment, the answer is neither legal nor illegal as the situation is still unclear.”

Samad was also involved in the launch of the Harapan coin, a planned political cryptocurrency token which was designed to raise money for Pakatan Harapan, Malaysia’s ruling party, for the 2019 general elections. However, a Malaysian Member of Parliament urged the government to implement adequate guidelines related to cryptocurrency before accepting the Harapan Coin cryptocurrency project.

He had also placed his proposal, for the use of Harapan Coin for government transactions, to the Prime Minister – Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Bank Negara, the country’s central bank. Bank Negara, still needs to approve the initiative.

In spite of being a supporter of crypto and being involved in various initiatives to promote its growth, Samad could not influence the government either way. He said: “Yes, I was involved in the launch of Harapan coin. However, I was not appointed as finance minister. Instead, I became federal territories minister. As the matter is not under my jurisdiction, I cannot push too much.”

Earlier in December 2018, Malaysia’s central bank and finance regulator had given a joint statement in which they confirmed that they were in the process of setting up guidelines on cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) assets.

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