The Malaysian government is implementing a new provision on "corporate liability", which will hold firms accountable for corrupt acts of its employees.

According to reports from New Straits Times, this will be amended under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, and expected to come into force in 2018.

At the Corporate Integrity Pledge Conference 2016, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan said the new provision was ready to be tabled in the third session of the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 17.

“I definitely want to see this implemented. After we implement it, we need a one-year grace period for companies to adjust their procedures and put in place anti-corruption measures. Even though we may have it this October, we can only implement it properly by January 2018,” he told New Straits Times after the Corporate Integrity Pledge Conference 2016.

Low would like to see all companies in Bursa Malaysia sign the pledge once it comes into force in 2018 as well as rope in their vendors, buyers and lenders.

Low believed most companies would accept this new provision, which made them responsible for the corrupt acts of their employees.

"He said it would also create a level-playing field for all in the private sector. The new provision would help them build their compliance capabilities, not only in Malaysia, but in other countries as well," New Straits Times wrote.

“For business purposes, it is a benefit for them because building up anti-bribery procedures takes time and it cannot happen overnight.

“This could be the catalyst for helping them build that capacity.” He said curbing corruption was not solely the job of MACC or government, but must also include the private sector," Low said.

More than 800 companies signed the Corporate Liability Pledge at the conference last week.

“About 900 companies is a small number. We should build it up to 3,000 to 4,000 in the next three years,” he said.

He urged more companies to join the cooperate integrity pledge.

ETP failed to create more high-skilled jobs, says Penang Institute

In other Malaysia news, the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) has been found to fail in creating more high-skilled jobs in the labour market despite being touted to boost Malaysia into becoming a high-income nation.

In fact, according to Penang Institute’s Kuala Lumpur general manager Ong Kian Ming, the net number of high-skilled jobs created since ETP’s launch in 2010 had actually reduced.

Based on the Penang Institute’s calculations and the Department of Statistic’s labour force statistics, between 2006 and 2010, a total of 587,000 net new high-skill jobs were created. However, that number fell to 501,000 between 2011 and 2015.

"(A total of) 2.2 million new jobs have been created, but there is a shortage of high-skilled jobs for an increasingly well-educated workforce,” he told a forum on the labour market in Kuala Lumpur today.

Ong, who is also the Serdang MP, pointed out that there is currently a mismatch between the number of high-skilled labourers, and the number of high-skilled jobs available.

In 2011, 25% of the workforce have tertiary education, while 26% of the labour market are high-skill jobs, he noted.

However, in 2015, the proportion of graduates have increased to 28%, yet the number of high-skilled positions available had stagnated and fallen to 25%, he highlighted.

Implemented as a means to turn the country into a high-income nation by 2020, the ETP aims to create 3.3 million jobs in 12 different sectors dubbed ‘National Key Economic Areas’ (NKEA) - 15% of these jobs are to be high-income jobs with a salary of over RM7,000, and 49% are to be middle-income jobs earning between RM2,000 and up to RM7,000.

However, Ong pointed out, with only four years to go, the only sector to have come close to its 2020 target is the wholesale and retail sector. As of last year, this sector - which is supposed to have 595,000 new jobs by 2020 -  has created 474,000 as of last year. While the education sector - the second closest to its target - has only managed to create 120,000 jobs out of the 536,000 targeted.

To ETP’s credit, Ong said, there has been a large increase in the rate of new mid-skill jobs being created since 2010, from 792,000 jobs between 2006 and 2010, to 1,130,000 between 2011 and 2015, Penang Institute wrote.

Ong also highlighted the country's high levels of youth unemployment and under-employment compared to the overall unemployment rate.

From 2012 onwards, he said over half of new diploma graduates were accepted into middle-to-low skill jobs that do not require university-level education. These tend to be sales and services jobs that typically only require high school training.

As of last year, 450,300 people were unemployed, of whom 365,200 were below 30 years old.

In order to improve the situation, Ong felt the government and private sector should cooperate in limiting the intake of foreign workers, including by putting a cap in the number of intakes and gradually increasing the levy on foreign workers .

In addition, to labour-intensive industries should be incentivised to invest more in research and development, and boost automation in the industry.

He said there should also be more partnerships between industry and educational institutions, particularly vocational colleges, as well as interventions to boost the quality of tertiary graduates.

Photo / 123RF