Hi There! – November 2010

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This post was written by J. Andrew Davison.

Corruption is a word which requires no explanation for most expats. Singapore and Hong Kong are a couple of rare exceptions to the prevalence of corrupt practices in Asia.

In fact, as readers of last month’s issue of The Expat may have noticed, it was ranked sixth out of the ten things that expats dislike about Malaysia. In the previous survey in 2004, it did not make the top ten. We cannot be certain why it suddenly became higher in the list but we suspect one reason is that the subject is getting a lot more press coverage in Malaysia.

Certainly, based on anecdotal feedback there has been no noticeable increase in corruption in the last few years although many expats comment on the fact that it is still quite prevalent. What is clear is that the government is taking steps to address the problem. There is no question corruption is bad for a country’s economy. When it happens at the government level, particularly in procurements it can mean substantial excess expenditure, negatively affecting the ability of the government to spend money on other essential projects. On the other side, it can lead to companies cutting their costs to secure contracts and pay bribes which leads to sub-standard work.

I recall when my former employer American Express responded to the newly passed Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the 1970s. It was a major source of discussion and all senior employees had to sign a document saying they understood the rules and penalties. All such payments were immediately stopped with the exception of payments made to speed up delivery of services to which the company was entitled, referred to as “expediting payments”. These could continue with a maximum payment of US$100.

Some expats admit that they have slipped money to the police to avoid .nes for traf.c offences. While one can understand the convenience of this, it is clear that by doing so we are helping sustain a practice which this country seems committed to stamp out.

Combating corruption was one of the six National Key Results Areas (NKRA) announced last year. Various initiatives were identi.ed and are now being rolled out. I, along with two members of my staff, met with the man in charge, Dato’ Hisham Nordin. With arguably one of the toughest jobs in the government, he was clearly totally committed to his new responsibilities. He was honest enough to admit it will be a tough job and take many years to resolve but his satisfaction at doing something which he feels will be an enormous benefit to his country and his children was all too obvious. You can read the interview with Dato’ Hisham Nordin on page 20.

The government has chosen to share their efforts with us and we appreciate the fact they feel we are the most effective way to reach resident expats.

On a different subject, look out for the Property Guide which will be sent out to all subscribers as well as widely distributed to other foreigners interested in the Malaysian property market. It is filled with information about buying and renting property and the various rules and regulations. It also includes the detailed results of our recent property survey. A high level summary of the survey can also be seen in the December issue of The Expat.

Have a great month.
J. Andrew Davison

Source: The Expat November 2010 Issue


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