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Ten thoughts on corporate sustainability in Malaysia

I’m in Kuala Lumpur this week speaking at a conference and running some training on CR embedding and communications for Malaysian companies, MNC’s and others.

So here’s a few thoughts on what I’ve noticed:

  1.  Awareness of sustainability is generally low but there is at least recognition that, for example, on the mainland, palm oil development is maxed out
  2. The worry for many is now palm oil expansion into northern Borneo and what that will mean for the environment and communities
  3. Leading Malaysian companies such as Petronas and Sime Darby understand it is important and make the right noises, to a degree. But they regard Western NGOs, such as Greenpeace, as extremists
  4. German companies here, amongst others, are a step ahead, as you might expect
  5. The Stock Exchange said they would push reporting by companies, but have let the idea drift
  6. Malay empowerment continues to be an important political issue, amid ongoing tensions between Malays, Chinese and Indians here
  7. There’s no interest in going beyond compliance on sustainability, by business, unless there is a firm business case for doing so. For example, employee engagement is low or non-existent
  8. European chambers of commerce are doing leading work in promoting the agenda here
  9. Yet the government seems significantly less engaged than, for example, in Singapore. There’s interest in green tech, but not much money around willing to pay for it, it seems
  10. Corruption and bribery remains a significant problem. Companies continue to struggle with the issue of low level bribes, although MNC’s realise that bigger ones are now a no-no compared with the past

 That’s it for now. No great surprises above I’m afraid. I’m here until Saturday when I’m off to Mumbai for the first time since 1995. I’ll post some thoughts from India next week.