Legal Updates for March 2021

First Corporate Liability Charge under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 – What Directors Need to Know

The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission ("MACC") has charged a company providing ship rental services under Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009. This is the first charge under Section 17A, which came into force on 1 June 2020. For context, Section 17A imposes liability on a company and its officers holding managerial positions if persons associated with the company offer a bribe to a third party for the company’s benefit. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of up to RM1 million or 10 times the value of the bribe (whichever is higher), or up to 20 years imprisonment, or both.

This Update provides a brief background of the case, followed by the key issues directors and management should consider in light of these charges when accepting or performing their role in the company.

A Trial Extraordinaire that Breaches Malaysia’s Legal Frontiers – The SRC Trial

In a landmark decision ruling on 28 July 2020, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sitting in the High Court found former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak (“DS Najib”) guilty of seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd (“SRC”). DS Najib is the most senior member of the executive branch of the government to be charged in the Malaysian court in history.

This Update discusses the legal position on how the above-mentioned offences are construed, and the key takeaways from this judgment.

Regional Shipping Update: Shipping Law Updates – First Quarter 2021

This is the First Quarter 2021 issue of the Regional Shipping Update of Rajah & Tann Asia’s Shipping & International Trade Practice, a publication that provides a snapshot of the key legal issues in various jurisdictions where our member firms have regional presence.

In this issue, we provide an overview of the procedures for arresting a vessel in Vietnam. We also report the measures that Singapore has recently introduced to ensure safe and responsible practices in the maritime and shipping sector amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Malaysiakini Case: Liability of Online Intermediary Platforms as the Presumed Publisher for Third-Party Content – A Further Analysis

Last month, the Federal Court in the case of Peguam Negara Malaysia v Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd & Another (Case No. 08(L)-4-06/2020) found Mkini Dot Com Sdn Bhd, the owner and operator of the Malaysian online news portal ‘Malaysiakini’ ("Malaysiakini"), guilty of contempt of court in relation to third-party comments that were posted on Malaysiakini’s website. In our previous Update issued last month, we provided an interim analysis on the Federal Court's summary grounds of decision for both the majority and minority decisions. Essentially, the majority decision found Malaysiakini liable based on section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950 ("EA 1950") which raises the legal presumption that Malaysiakini, as the news portal owner, was the publisher of the said comments.

The recent issuance of the full grounds of judgment for both the majority and minority decisions has provided a clearer picture of the reasoning adopted by the Federal Court in arriving at its decision. Based on the full grounds of both judgments, this Update seeks to provide a further analysis on the Federal Court's finding in relation to the liability of online intermediary platforms as the presumed publisher under section 114A of the EA 1950 and examine its potential impact on content regulation in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Large Scale Solar 4/LSS@MEnTARI: Analysis of Results

The Energy Commission of Malaysia has, on 12 March 2021, announced the list of shortlisted bidders (i.e. winners) of its fourth competitive bidding programme for development of large scale solar power plants (dubbed the LSS@MEnTARI and generally referred to by the industry as LSS4). The LSS4 was launched in May 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with a stated aim of stimulating the recovery of the economy. It was largely seen as an opportunity for those who were unsuccessful in LSS3 to repurpose their submission packages, and also as a move to placate grouses from local players that the outcome of the LSS3 programme did not result in enough jobs for local contractors and that the LSS3 programme was not favourable to local players.

The LSS4 was not without its own set of issues. For instance, there was confusion as to whether foreign participation would be allowed as the Energy Commission had issued conflicting views on this. Further, eyebrows were also raised when the LSS4 results were not released by the end of 2020 as results are traditionally announced at the end of the year in which the bidding round is held to allow shortlisted bidders sufficient time achieve Energy Commission-prescribed project milestones.

This article breaks down and analyses the results of the LSS4.

Whistleblower Protection Act 2010: Sustainable a Decade on?

Environmental, Social & Governance (“ESG”) is increasingly gaining traction as the buzzword in 2021 and more stakeholders are sitting up and taking notice when corporate governance matters are discussed. Stakeholders understand that good corporate governance has a real impact on the sustainability and long-term prospects of businesses, and are receptive to methods of improving corporate governance.

To this end, a good whistleblowing policy is no longer just “nice to have”, but is an integral part of a business’ long-term strategy. This article seeks to shed light on the efficacy of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 in Malaysia in improving corporate governance.