Business Ethics Practiced in Malaysia

Jodee Redmond
Malaysian business owners are trying to improve their image.

Business ethics practiced in Malaysia have come under scrutiny in recent years. Part of the reason is due to the fact that Malaysia's economy grew at the impressive rate of more than eight percent per year from 1987-1997. Malaysia is striving to be considered a developed nation by the year 2020, and critics have blamed this economic goal for a lack of business ethics in that country. Corruption is said to be rampant and concerns abound that the environment is being sacrificed in favor of economic progress.

Concerns About Business Ethics Practiced in Malaysia

The following examples highlight different aspects of business ethics practiced in Malaysia that raise concerns. This is my no means a comprehensive list, but instead is more of a sampling:

Allegations Against Head of Anti-Corruption Agency

Earlier this year, the head of Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Agency, Zulkipli Mat Noor, was accused of being corrupt and unscrupulous. It was alleged that he used his position as a senior police officer to accumulate property and other assets but the "all clean" verdict raised more questions about corruption and the matter was scheduled to be investigated by a parliamentary committee to determine whether a new chief of for the Anti-Corruption Agency would need to be appointed.

Malaysia Seen as More Corrupt in 2007

When the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) conducted its annual survey of businessmen, Malaysia received a ranking of 6.25. In 2006, Malaysia scored 6.13. Under the PERC rating system, a perfect score would be zero, and the worst score would be 10.

Bankers and managers working for multinational companies were among the survey participants. The poll results are significant for Malaysia, since foreign businesses may make choices about where to locate and invest funds based on their perception of a particular country. The more ethical a country appears to be, the easier it will be to attract foreign investors.

Landslides Near Resort Location

Another example of questionable business ethics practiced in Malaysia is the case of the landslide which occurred near the site of the Genting Highlands Resort and Casino. This 1995 occurrence killed 20 people; 23 more sustained injuries. This was the fifth such incident which took place in the region. The cause of the landslide was widely believed to have been irresponsible clearing of trees in order to free up land for new construction. The Malaysian government did meet to discuss the issue, but did not take steps to introduce legislation to deal with this issue in the future.

Bakum Dam

A judge found that when the government gave the green light to start construction on the Bakum Dam, it was actually in violation of its own environmental policies. Allegations were made that government officials falsified environmental impact statements to ensure that the project would go ahead as planned.

Malaysia Launches a Code of Ethics

On a more positive note, Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs recently released a book entitled "Code of Ethics for Malaysian Business." The goal of this project is to encourage ethical business practices in that country. Business owners can get copies of the book at no charge.

Another positive step for improved business ethics practiced in Malaysia took place when it was announced that companies who wished to be listed on the Malaysia stock exchange were required to provide information about their policies on corporate responsibility.

Corporate responsibility seminars and workshops are being offered at a number of locations in Kuala Lumpur. It would appear that the government and business owners alike are recognizing that the issue of business ethics practiced in Malaysia needs to be addressed and that policy changes must be implemented to change the world's perception of this country.

Business Ethics Practiced in Malaysia