Tackling corruption is one of the priorities of the Government, and we are seeing a concerted approach to root out corruption at all levels. Under the second phase of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP 2.0) for instance, companies will now be punished if their employees are found guilty of graft.
Under the present rules, only individuals can be charged even if a corrupt practice is carried out on behalf of a company. The Government therefore plans to insert corporate liability provisions into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.
This extension of liability to a company will further deter corruption, and is based on a recommendation by the United Nations Convention against Corruption as well the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
"The enactment of this provision will give an impetus for companies to strengthen their internal processes to fight corruption as the companies themselves could be punished if their employees are found guilty," the report stated.Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali said the implementation of this proposal would leave little room for those from the corporate sector to "manoeuvre or get involved in graft".
"Corporate liability is a must. This will force corporate firms to lay out stringent guidelines on ethical business practices because failure on the part of their employees will mean liability for the boards," he pointed out.
Transparency International Malaysia secretary-general Josie M. Fernandez supported the proposal.
"Corporate firms should bear responsibility for the actions of their employees as such corrupt practices benefit the companies.
"Therefore, if employees are found guilty of corrupt behaviour in the line of duty, the companies should be answerable as well," she said.
This latest anti-corruption initiative seeks to motivate companies to execute measures contained in Corporate Integrity System Malaysia (CISM).
The Government introduced the Integrity Pact and the Corporate Integrity Pledge to ensure that the procurement process by the Finance Ministry is done in a transparent manner.
Malaysia's new anti-corruption system has been praised by international observers such as Michael J. Hershman, co-founder of Transparency International. In his recent article on news portal Huffington Post, Hershman noted that combating corruption was "a core component of the Prime Minister Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak's governmental and economic reform program."
A target has been set to have about 150 government-linked companies and private companies, representing 90 per cent of Bursa Malaysia's market capitalisation, sign the Corporate Integrity Pledge. Companies that sign the pledge will be listed in the register of signatories on CSIM's website at www.csim.my.
GTP 2.0 will also transform the Auditor-General's reporting process by speeding up the delivery of the A-G's performance audit, thereby allowing agencies to prosecute corruption cases faster.
One can only hope that the Opposition joins in the Government's anti-corruption drive. Pakatan Rakyat has, after all, been accused of nepotism and cronyism within its ranks.
Yet Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has still not responded to recent allegations of financial impropriety during his tenure as Finance Minister in the 1990s.
With the crackdown on corruption continuing, whether it is politicians or foreign multinationals, everyone is increasingly aware that corruption is no longer tolerated in Malaysia. The Government's comprehensive approach to tackling the problem is finally paying off.