Governing of anti-graft shouldn’t be put off, says group

PUTRAJAYA: Transparency International-Malaysia has weighed in on suggestions that the implementation be postponed on a legal provision, which deals with corporate liability for corruption, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noting that the calls for a deferment of the enforcement came about in view of disruptions to business activities amid the pandemic, it nevertheless said the postponement should not be allowed to prolong too much.

“The contagion itself could be a cause of corrupt activities because many small companies are impacted, ” said TI-Malaysia president Dr Muhammad Mohan (pic).

Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act was passed in 2018.

Among others, it deals with corporate liability for corruption where the senior management will be held liable for graft committed by the company or those acting on behalf of the firm. However, there have been calls for the enforcement of the new provision to be postponed for a year due to Covid-19 pandemic which has caused business interruption to many companies and they are not prepared for the law to be implemented from June 1.

On Tuesday, MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki told Bernama that there had been proposals to suspend the implementation of Section 17A that was slated to start on June 1.

He said the calls for a deferment of the implementation was due to companies not being ready for the appropriate anti-corruption plan.

“They are asking for about a year to establish their businesses again before the implementation of Section 17A, ” he told Bernama.

Muhammad said in a statement the MACC could take the suggestion for a deferment into consideration, “but to propose that it be postponed for a year is definitely too long”.

“In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic itself may be a cause for corruption as various parties become desperate and will commit bribery to gain commercial advantage and benefit.

“This provision must come into force within this year because corruption will not find a foothold in the midst of the looming economic crisis, ” he said.

At the same time, TI-M also called for the provision to be gazetted so that it can come into operation in June.

“In fact, many firms have adopted the ministerial guidelines provided on adequate procedures and have put in place controls for good governance to prevent corruption.‘The government and MACC should continue with this momentum as it’s a very effective step to fight against corruption being part of Malaysia’s corporate culture, ” he said.

According to TI-M, a survey by Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance on 100 companies showed that 54% of the companies surveyed are ready with adequate procedures.

Muhammad said this was a good indication that companies have recognised what is corporate liability and why they need to have adequate procedures.

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