In Malaysia Airports, no landing space for corruption

MAHB chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: In April, the Dewan Rakyat passed amendments to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, inserting a clause which considers it as bribery if a company employee offers rewards in exchange for retaining business.

Section 17a of the MACC Act may come as a challenge to companies which have so far viewed gifts and gratification as harmless, with many saying there is a thin line separating this from corruption.

For Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), the clause is nothing new. For the last four years, a powerful internal body has been in place to audit staff conduct.

The company has grown by leaps and bounds, and it is now one of the world’s largest airport operators.

Outside Malaysia, MAHB also owns or operates two airports in Europe and Asia: the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey, and the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, India.

Its acting group chief executive officer Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin told FMT that Section 17a provides it with an opportunity to show its commitment to transparency, and that the company is currently working with MACC on how best to achieve this.

“We are looking forward to receiving the guidelines from MACC to ensure that adequate measures are in place to combat corruption in our business transactions,” Raja Azmi told FMT recently.

MAHB has been expanding its business to provide airport operation services and consultancy, operation and maintenance, facilities management services, duty-free retail and hospitality services among others.

Raja Azmi said as a public-listed company, corporate governance and transparency were crucial to MAHB’s business.

This was why it set up an Integrity Unit in 2014.

The unit is tasked, among others, with enforcing the declaration of assets, integrity vetting in recruitment, developing policies related to entertainment, gifts and sponsorship, as well as introducing a code of ethics for vendors.

With all this in place, Raja Azmi said MAHB was now on the road to obtaining the internationally-recognised Anti-Bribery Management System certification, or ISO 37001:2016.

“When an organisation is operating in an environment with numerous stakeholders such as ours, ensuring good governance and transparency must extend beyond our organisation.

“We are now looking at educating our stakeholders such as business partners, agencies and suppliers to ensure full compliance and buy-in,” he said.

For this, the company is ranked in the top 10 of the MSWG-Corporate Governance Transparency Index, a shareholder-based assessment of public-listed companies.

MAHB has also been ranked in the top 20 of the MSWG-Asean Corporate Governance Transparency Index, and received an A+ distinction in corporate governance from MSWG, or the Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group.

Raja Azmi said the company was serious about its zero tolerance on corruption.

“We will not hesitate to report any corruption, bribery, or illegal conduct such as conflict of interest and abuse of power to the relevant authorities,” he added.