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Money.. Money.. Money: Tackling Bribery and Corruption at Workplace

What is corruption?

CORRUPTION is defined by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as “the act of giving or receiving of any gratification or reward in the form of cash or in-kind of high value for performing a task in relation to his/her job description”.


Four (4) main offences stipulated in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 (MACC Act 2009) (Act 694):

  1. Soliciting/Receiving Gratification (Bribe) [section 16 & 17(a) MACC Act 2009]
  2. Offering/Giving Gratification (Bribe) [section 17(b) MACC Act 2009]
  3. Intending to Deceive (False Claim) [Section 18 MACC Act 2009]
  4. Using Office or Position for Gratification (Bribe) (Abuse of Power/Position) [Section 23 MACC Act 2009]

PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PWC) Global Economic Crime Survey 2016 stated that Malaysia now has the second highest reported level of corruption (at 30{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b}) relative to its three largest trading partners: China (46{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b}), Japan (24{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b}) and Singapore (17{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b}).

The results of the survey shows corruption has increased since 2014. 30{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b} out of 80 Malaysian companies have experienced bribery and corruption in their daily operations, compared to the 19{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b} back in 2014. However, 98{17c0c7c8a24a6e48bfe42b0bbfddcb5c572fb0da1c5859adba1973bf3b84029b} of those polled made it clear to their staff that bribery and corruption are “unacceptable practices”.


While companies may choose to address specific corruption issues in a more detailed manner, it is important for the organisation to have clear guidelines of company’s position on corruption. The compliance of anti-corruption policy is to be embedded in the company’s code of conduct and in the overall corporate compliance program includes easy access to bribery and anti-corruption policy throughout organisation and made available through training and communication.

Not only that, from my experience, there are many things that can be done to ensure that the anti-corruption policy is given appropriate attention, including the support from the top management, education and training, effective monitoring and appropriate investigative and disciplinary actions.

Conducting anti-corruption compliance and awareness training is something that I always emphasise during my corporate days. Anti-corruption or bribery training is a necessity and should not be taken lightly by companies. Ours and other people’s common sense can vary depending on their understanding, work etiquette, working culture etc. At a minimum, all employees and agents that is in position to give or receive bribes or tasks to detect such activity, should be trained from time to time. The Bribery or Anti-Corruption training provides the knowledge and skills needed to deal with any bribery related problems or issues that may arise in organisation.

Anti-Corruption Training should highlight:

  1. Corporate anti-corruption policies and procedures – the procedure must be made available to employees at any time;
  2. Anti-bribery or corruption training could be a mandatory for new employees and the consistent awareness program to be organise for current employees from time to time;
  3. Some level of employees should attend the Anti-corruption training that tailored to the specific risks associated with specific posts;
  4. Details to guide employees on matters that they are unsure about or the challenges they might facing especially if it is involving the top management posts;
  5. Potential red flags or problem situations – each individual in the organisation must be train on risk assessment;
  6. How to report and escalate potential violations according to some common cases;
  7. The organisation must emphasis that corruption will not be tolerated in the organisation.

Whistle-blowing is a great mechanism to raise and escalate unethical or immoral work-related behaviour in the organisation. Whistle-blowing may cover the following areas:

  1. Financial malpractice or impropriety or fraud;
  2. Unhealthy and criminal activities that happened within organisation that prone to bribery or corruptions.
  3. Dangers or threat to health and safety of employees or customers;
  4. Procedures and systems malpractice;
  5. Improper conduct or unethical behavior; and
  6. Threat or attempts to conceal any of the above

The MACC Chief Commissioner explained that under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, the punishment for bribery offenders was merely a maximum jail sentence of 20 years (besides the fine). He explains more about the proposed punishment for corruption here.

Last but not least, I believe our commitment to prevent bribery needs to be demonstrated from the top, with senior leaders ensuring that everyone understands that bribery or corruption are not tolerated.

Written by: Emiliawati Zainol, Q3 Management Solutions


“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”

– Stephen Covey, author and educator




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