Anti-graft policies lacking in local firms: Transparency International Malaysia report

KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysian businesses do not have anti-corruption programmes or policies in the company, according to Transparency International Malaysia’s Business Integrity Country Agenda (Bica) assessment report, which has urged businesses to implement anti-corruption programmes.

Transparency International Malaysia exco Nurirdzuana Ismail said having anti-corruption programmes can safeguard businesses from any exposure or opportunities for corruption.

“Businesses go for profit, but they also have to do business ethically, by not offering bribes and making false claims. To sustain the business, they should have a proper framework. It’s recommended that businesses in Malaysia consider ISO 37001 Anti-bribery management systems (ABMS),” she told SunBiz after presenting the Bica assessment report today.

She said while public-listed companies are governed by the corporate governance code, the SME segment, which has the largest number of business players, do not have proper anti-corruption framework.

One key observation in Bica is that Malaysians generally have a complacent attitude towards having the right business practices.

“If a certain practice for good business governance and management is not made mandatory by the law and authorities, Malaysian companies do not usually adapt the suggested practices. Only when the practice becomes a compulsory rule or law, Malaysian businesses strive to comply,” said Nurirdzuana, who is the lead supervisor for Bica Malaysia.

Bica is an initiative of Transparency International developed both to enhance national level business integrity and to create a body of evidence on business integrity in various countries. Bica is a widely shared agenda for reform and acts as a collective momentum towards enhanced business among key stakeholders. It is envisaged that Bica will become an important reference point for fighting corruption in business practices around the globe, including Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said the overall findings of Bica revealed that reform is needed in certain priority areas, such as enforcement, capacity, transparency and disclosure.

“The public sector must change the culture of ‘I have done enough’. The private sector must change the culture of ‘I am the victim’, and focus on ‘what we can do’. The civil society needs to strengthen the platform to ‘give voice’.”

Calling it an “integrity crisis”, he said the level of business integrity in Malaysia is very low.

“A lot of people are involved in corruption, especially the private sector who are givers, the public sector who are the receivers, and the civil society that does not come forward to report. If we’re not careful, and we don’t rectify the problem and find the root cause of corruption in the country, we’ll be in trouble.”