Malaysia: Competition Commission

Since the establishment of the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) in 2011, the enforcement efforts of the MyCC have, year after year, continued to strengthen the regulatory policies of the MyCC in encouraging fair competition in the local markets in Malaysia.

As an independent statutory body mandated by the government of Malaysia to promote the competition process in the local business landscape, the MyCC continues to be committed to reinforcing its regulations and investigating any violations of its prohibitions under the Competition Act 2010. The MyCC also continuously involves itself with members from the private and public sectors to increase awareness of the Competition Act 2010.

To achieve its goals, the MyCC places a high importance on having an effective and robust enforcement regime working hand-in-hand with an active and engaging advocacy programme.

In terms of enforcement, as at the end of November 2016, the MyCC has conducted 57 cases, of which 42 have been closed. In addition, the Commission has received 277 complaints from the public, of which 256 have been resolved. These investigations and complaints encompass several sectors of the Malaysian economy including the pharmaceutical, logistics, transportation, financial, consumer services and various fast-moving consumer goods industries, all of which greatly impact the consumer. These include the investigations of several large multinational firms and government-linked companies, as well as trade associations and professional bodies.

The numbers above are encouraging as they provide an indication that there is a rising awareness among consumers and the relevant stakeholders in the business communities, and represent a small but significant step in the MyCC’s journey towards achieving its goals.

In terms of advocacy, the MyCC has undertaken various efforts and initiatives to engage with and educate the relevant stakeholders in the market on the importance and benefits of competition law and the MyCC’s role in promoting and enforcing the law. From its establishment in 2012 until the present, the MyCC has conducted 203 advocacy engagements with business associations, government agencies and professional bodies. These engagements include collaborating with the MyCC, on the MyCC’s own initiatives and via invitations, providing training and hosting talks, forums, conferences and seminars.

Other initiatives include the publication of guidelines, conducting market surveys to identify anticompetitive elements in specific industries, hosting forums on competition law with international speakers and other such initiatives highlighting the MyCC’s role in the enforcement and promotion of competition law in Malaysia.

With regard to the public sector, the MyCC continues to engage with several statutory government bodies, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ministry of Health, the Central Bank of Malaysia, the Public Land Transportation Commission, the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission and the National Audit Department, to collaborate on pushing the government’s agenda to promote fair competition in the Malaysian economy for the benefit of its consumers.

The MyCC has memoranda of understanding with six public and private universities to teach university graduates skills and knowledge on competition law by introducing new competition law modules in existing university courses, as well as organising annual mooting competitions for its students. The MyCC firmly believes that such initiatives at universities shall increase awareness among graduates and this will ensure a continued supply of professionals who are educated and trained in competition law.

With regard to cooperation with other competition authorities around the globe, the MyCC has been actively participating in the Competition Law Implementation Program under the auspices of the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Agreement’s Economic Cooperation Support Program and spearheaded by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission. The MyCC has also collaborated closely with several of its regional ASEAN counterparts, such as the Competition Commission of Singapore and the Indonesian Competition Commission, and hopes to work with other competition authorities in the ASEAN region and globally in the near future.

Besides this, the MyCC has also participated in several international competition forums, seminars and workshops hosted by the International Competition Network, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the German Society for International Cooperation and, regionally, with the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition and the Asian Competition Network.

The above collaborations and participations have proved invaluable to the MyCC in enhancing the knowledge, experience and expertise of its staff members in the understanding and application of competition law and policy according to best practices, as well as keeping up to date with the latest international developments worldwide. As such, the MyCC will continue to invest in its staff members and actively participate in international engagements.

In spite of the above efforts and strides taken by the MyCC in promoting and enforcing fair competition in the Malaysian market, its endeavours have not been without challenges. There is still currently a lack of competition culture in Malaysia and the effects and benefits of having a competitive market have not yet been seen or felt as a whole by the everyday consumer or relevant stakeholder.

It must be noted that the MyCC is the first statutory enforcement body in Malaysia with quasi-judicial powers to impose its own findings on its own investigations. As such, cases involving complex issues take a longer time to complete because of the various legal and economic aspects that must be taken into account when conducting an investigation on competition issues as compared with the usual enforcement procedures of other statutory enforcement bodies in Malaysia, for example, consumer protection cases and financial and security-related cases.

This, in turn, effectively hampers the MyCC’s ability as a competition regulator to carry out its duties as both the enforcer and the advocate of competition law in Malaysia. However, this can be overcome with time and continuous efforts on the part of the MyCC to engage and educate the consumers and other relevant stakeholders in the market.

Looking ahead, the MyCC is confident that there are even greater achievements in store for 2017 and the years ahead. Though a relatively young agency compared with other more established and august competition authorities around the globe, with a dedicated workforce and public support, the MyCC hopes to be a leading competition authority in the region and on the world stage in the near future. To quote the famous English playwright John Heywood, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.’

 

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