KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 – AmBank Group refuted today a Malay Muslim NGO’s claim that it was promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) practices in Malaysia, stressing that the company respects Islamic beliefs and practices here.

In a statement, AmBank also pointed out that MetLife Inc, a US company which Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) claimed promoted LGBT rights respected the “local laws, traditions and culture” in whichever country it conducted its services.

Yesterday, JMM president Azwanddin Hamzah accused AmBank Holdings Bhd (AMMB) of conspiring with a MetLife Inc to further a pro-LGBT agenda, without providing any proof except photocopied printouts of a news bulletin.

“AmBank Group would like to clarify that we respect the Shariah laws of Malaysia and as a responsible corporate citizen we adhere to the strict governance and guidelines of banking, insurance and takaful.

“AmBank Group are not involved in promoting or encouraging Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) practices as reported in the media,” the statement read.

It pointed out that AmBank Group- particularly AmMetLife Insurance Berhad and AmMetLife Takaful Berhad are governed by Malaysian laws and do not endorse any practice or culture deemed illegal.

The statement added that AmBank Group had on April 30 sealed a strategic partnership with MetLife International Holdings Inc. (“MetLife”) which allows the company to benefit in terms of “expertise transfer” from MetLife Inc.

JMM’s Azwanddin claimed he received “secret intelligence” reports and “extensive research” on AmBank’s alleged pro-LGBT agenda the matter shortly after AmBank Malaysia Berhad (AMMB) chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim had announced a partnership with Metlife International Holdings Incorporated (Metlife)- which he said involved AmBank insurance subsidiaries AmLife and AmFamily Takaful Berhad.

“MetLife is an insurance company which has brazenly promoted and supported the LGBT lifestyle and which is stated in AmLife’s news bulletin published in April 2014.

“On the last page of the news bulletin, it is stated that MetLife has received the award for ‘best places to work for LGBT 2013’ through a 2013 human rights campaign,” the JMM leader said yesterday.

Azwanddin produced photocopies of the said news bulletin, claiming this showed “an evil agenda” to provoke and covertly introduce cultures and teachings which went against Islam.

Aside from the award won by MetLife, however, JMM did not produce any further evidence to show how AmBank or its subsidiaries were promoting the LGBT agenda here or to Muslims in particular.

Muslim-majority Malaysia vehemently objects to the perceived rise in LGBT activities, which it deems to be an assault against Islam together with growing calls for greater civil liberties.

The issue is muddied by the intermingling of politics and religion in a country where the latter has become a major platform from which to appeal for support.