Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Step up, gatekeepers and authorities

On August 6th 2011 Errol Oh wrote an article in The Star, named:

"Step up, gatekeepers and influencers"


I agree with most of the article which handles mostly about the Corporate Governance Blueprint 2011.

However, the article ends with: "these measures won't work if the gatekeepers and influencers don't buy into the idea that they have a part to play in enhancing corporate governance in Malaysia. If they refuse to accept this, they have no business being gatekeepers and influencers in the first place."

I have myself contacted the Bursa Malaysia (BM) & Securities Commission (SC) several times, and each time was stonewalled. It took literally three years (!) for complaints to get settled, nobody can convince me that that is an efficient way of dealing with these matter. There was no communication at all from the side of the authorities, although the SC promises to give an update every 3 months, they simply don't do that. And lastly, the SC & BM are "hiding" behind the confidentiality rule, a rule that in itself is good, but can not be used as an excuse in each instance not to give out any information. When I submitted a detailed report of many pages with appendices to the SC I received a letter back with one line stating that no rule had been broken, no explanation whatsoever.

I found a huge amount of skepticism with ordinary Malaysians (although they did offer to help me, an offer I happily accepted) when I told them about my plans to file detailed complaints to the authorities. At the end they were right of course it only gave me a huge headache.

The SC & BM have a large job on their hands, convincing current and would-be influencers (and I am sure there are many out there) to start taking them serious, and therefore to start lodging complaints about important issues.

The problem is, the SC & BM do indeed need them very much, there are a thousand listed companies out there, and it is sheer impossible to monitor them. What better than to ask the people who put their money where their mouth is, the well informed investors, or the people who follow the news for instance in Blogs to help them with that task, and report any issue that came up?

My recommendations:
  • SC & BM should be honest, openly admitting that mistakes have been made in these processes dealing with complaints, and promise better times ahead
  • SC & BM should hugely step up their efforts in the handling of complaints
  • Complainants should at least every 3 months be updated on the progress of their complaints
  • 95% of the complaints should be handled easily within one year, preferable in much less
  • Complaints that are not handled within one year should follow some "heavy" procedure, like getting formal approval from the Chairman of the SC and complainants should be informed
  • No abuse anymore of the confidentiality rule: public information, rules and regulations, accounting standards etc can be used to inform complainants about the decision taken

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