Tommy Thomas: Best way to restore trust in corporate environment is to enforce law against wrongdoers

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas delivering his closing remarks titled ‘Resetting the Trust Compass: It Starts With You’ at the International Directors Summit in Kuala Lumpur October 15, 2019. — Bernama pic
Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas delivering his closing remarks titled ‘Resetting the Trust Compass: It Starts With You’ at the International Directors Summit in Kuala Lumpur October 15, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — The best method of restoring trust in the corporate and commercial environment in Malaysia is to vigorously apply the law against any wrongdoer.

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said Malaysian laws have generally been first rate but the enforcement needs to be improved.

 “If the enforcement message of the new government remains loud and clear, wrong-doing ought to reduce.

“Nothing concentrates the mind more of any individual than a real threat of prosecution, followed by imprisonment,” he said when closing the International Directors Summit 2019 here today.

There are more than 1.3 million companies that have been incorporated, with probably about half a million actually carrying on business and the shares of about 1,000 public companies are traded on Bursa Malaysia.

Thomas said directors of companies are trustees of all properties and assets belonging to their companies.

“He has a duty to preserve and protect such assets. Directors cannot steal assets from companies, or divert them to other entities where directors have an interest,” he said adding that conflict of interest must be avoided.

He noted that directors must appreciate that the law imposes an objective standard with regard to assets of companies.

The actions of dishonest and fraudulent directors have attracted much public attention, he said.

Hence, when 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) frauds were designed in Malaysia around 2009, the precedents for dishonest behaviour by directors going unpunished in Malaysia were legion, said Thomas.

He pointed out that when Pakatan Harapan came into power in May 2018, the new government was adamant about reducing, and ultimately eliminating corruption.

The conference was organised by the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM) as a platform for participants to discuss, debate and establish definitive paths forward in areas regarding corporate governance leadership in the face of current  challenges.

The two-day conference, which ended today, was attended by more than 400 local and regional executive leaders, governance experts, government representatives, policy makers and civil society. — Bernama

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