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1991 - 1999 : Raising the Profile of MAICSA  print
With these epochal and momentous events behind it, MAICSA entered the decade of the nineties stronger and surer of itself. A series of memorable events marked the chairmanship of Mardzuki Abdullah who served for two years from 1990 to 1991. The year 1991 witnessed the first convocation ceremony for ICSA graduates held on 27 July. It was officiated by Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, the Deputy Minister of Education. It was a historic and personally satisfying moment for graduates of the December 1990 examination in particular and the Association in general.

In the course of the same year, the Association together with its ICSA International fraternity celebrated, , the Centenary of ICSA. To mark this grand occasion, the Association held a centenary dinner on 18 October, 1991 and various other functions and dinners in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru in the course of the year. The ICSA as a parent body had weathered many a storms in the course of a century and in that period had guided the practitioners of company secretaryship to justly claim due recognition for their role in a world that was increasingly characterised by the rise of modern corporations.

In Malaysia, under the chairmanship of Muhamad Nor Muhamad, MAICSA achieved a strategic milestone in 1992 when the Association was granted recognition as a prescribed body by the Government under Section 139 (a) of the Companies (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1992 which took effect from September of the same year. Fellow and Associate members of MAICSA would now automatically qualify to act as company secretaries without having to apply for a license from the Registrar of Companies (ROC).

The long and arduous journey towards the achievement of this recognition began as early as in 1977 during the chairmanship of Dato' Junus Sudin when the Association made the first overtures on the issue of the qualification of company secretaries with the relevant government authorities. In 1980 when the Association was invited by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to comment on the draft Companies Amendment Bill, it took the opportunity to submit a proposal for Company Secretaries to be suitably qualified along the lines of Section 79 of the UK Companies Act 1980. Eventually after much efforts and persistence, the endeavour culminated in the strategic milestone being achieved in 1992. Members and students could now look forward with optimism to better serve, with due recognition, the manifold complexities and needs of the new Malaysia.

Having achieved devolved status, the Association continued to pursue its long term development plans with the purchase of its own premises in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur in 1992. The three-storey shoplot, located ideally between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, was planned for occupation 1993. This modest move to purchase a premise of its own was perhaps long overdue. Membership had grown from strength to strength and in 1992 it numbered 2,265. The number of students on the register rose to an all time high of 4,294.

On the academic arena, in 1992 MAICSA developed a full-time matriculation programme, which would qualify candidates for ICSA student registration in Malaysia. It was hoped that such a programme would provide a new avenue to further increase the number of students studying for the ICSA qualification, especially Bumiputra students. This effort on the part of the Association must be seen in the light of its avowed aims to have a more significant Bumiputra membership in the Association in line with national aspirations. The implementation of the matriculation programme was a concrete step by the Association towards encouraging greater interest among Bumiputras for the acquisition of professional qualifications via the ICSA route and also to fulfil the increasing need for such professionals.

With the completion of the Bangsar office, the Association moved its Secretariat from Menara Aik Hua to the new premises in August 1993. In sharing the new found pride of having at last a premise we could call our own, an Open Day was organised in September to give members and students the opportunity to view the new facilities and to interact with Council members and Secretariat staff. Through such efforts, the Secretariat today enjoys an atmosphere that can truly be characterised as "student friendly and service oriented".

With its administrative infrastructure and facilities in place, the Association was ready to expand its training and development programmes, which have always been deemed vital for the professional development of its members. Under the chairmanship of Kamil A Rahman, MAICSA set up a training department and launched a series of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) seminars to encourage and cultivate a CPD culture amongst members. The first CPD seminar entitled Enhancement of Competence in Corporate Governance was facilitated by Ben Power and Roy Lewis, ICSA past presidents who were then the members of the Institute’s Professional Standards Committee.

Development in the educational and academic spheres progressed further with the introduction of two other local subjects: Introduction to Malaysian Law and Malaysian Business Law with effect from the June 1995 ICSA examination. This was implemented as part of the ICSA New Qualifying Scheme .

The pursuit of educational excellence is of primary importance to the Association and a matter close to the heart of its various chairmen. With this objective in mind, MAICSA approached several institutions of higher learning to explore opportunities for possible collaboration in the academic field. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was the first of the local universities to respond to MAICSA’s call to set up a collaborative framework in research, development and training in corporate management. A Memorandum of Understanding between MAICSA and USM was signed on 18 July 1995 at a ceremony held at USM's main campus in Penang.

To realise MAICSA's aims of creating a pool of academically well-qualified members, and to forge better links with academia, an Academic Fellowship Award was introduced in 1995 in the form of a RM10,000 annual grant to allow lecturers to pursue the ICSA examinations.

In May 1995, the Association set up a recommended fee structure for professional secretarial services to provide members in public practice and consumers of these services with guidelines on professional fees that are chargeable for rendering professional expertise and services. A feature of the guidelines is the recognition that the minimum standard of quality of services provided by new practitioners of secretarial services would commensurate with the fee charged.

The mid-nineties also saw interesting developments in IT in tandem with the government’s efforts to develop the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) to gain a competitive edge in IT. To facilitate this move, cyber laws were enacted. To keep pace with these developments and to improve the efficiency of administrative services provided by the Secretariat, MAICSA embarked on an exercise to upgrade the Secretariat’s existing IT infrastructure in 1995. The two-phase upgrading exercise which involved the acquisition of new IT equipment and software and the development of MAICSA ’s first Web site was completed in 1996.

Although much had been achieved in the academic sphere, the Association continued with its plans to obtain a more comprehensive scheme of recognition for the ICSA qualifications. In 1995 the Association submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Finance to consider granting MAICSA members recognition status as tax agents under Section 153 (3) of the Income Tax Act 1976. The Association received a favourable response from the Ministry and subsequently in November 1995, the Association was successful in obtaining statutory recognition from the Government in granting members with more than five years practical tax experience either in the Government or private sector, the eligibility to apply to become tax agents under Section 153 (3) of the Income Tax Act 1976. This success added to MAICSA string of achievements in its endeavour to obtain due recognition of the professional status of its members, commensurate with the development of the profession itself .

That the Association has been successful in building up expertise and academic excellence is amply reflected by the fact that MAICSA’s input had often been sought by regulatory authorities when considering legislative changes involving the corporate sector prior to final Government approval. The Association was instrumental in re-activating the Company Law Forum in 1995 which had been dormant since November 1992. The Registrar of Companies responded positively to MAICSA ’s call to revive the forum and MAICSA assumed the chairmanship of the Forum for two years from 1995.

The Forum has four objectives. The first is to provide a platform for members to exchange views and ideas on matters relating to the Companies Act, 1965 and its subsidiary legislations. The second objective is to promote active joint consultation, co-operation and assistance among Forum members. Discussion on recommendations from participants on pressing issues in company law forms the third objective. Lastly, the Forum seeks to promote awareness of corporate governance and raise standards of corporate accountability and transparency in the country.

Members of the Forum also include representatives from the Registry of Companies, Malaysian Institute of Accountants, Malaysian Association of Certified Public Accountants, Bar Council, Federation of Public Listed Companies and Malaysian Institute of Directors.

As a responsible professional body, MAICSA considers that it has an obligation to educate the public, be they consumers of corporate services, professionals or the investing public, on the role and functions of the company secretary and the areas under the practitioner’s purview. Towards this end it was reasoned that a strong partnership with a public media organisation sharing the same sentiments would be an ideal platform to fulfil this obligation. MAICSA approached The Star, a leading English daily, to run a series of articles in its paper in this identified area. In April 1996, the first of a series of MAICSA articles was published under a column entitled MAICSA PERSPECTIVE. The column runs fortnightly in the paper’s Business section, Star Business, and enjoys good readership.

The partnership fulfils one of the Association’s avowed social responsibilities of providing public education. The writers and academicians who have contributed articles to this column also deserve our credit for their support in keeping the column going by generating sufficient interest in the matter raised.

In April 1996, the Registry of Companies launched the Company Director’s Code of Ethics followed by the Company Secretary’s Code of Ethics in July of the same year. MAICSA played a pivotal and significant role in assisting the Registry in drafting the two codes.

Undoubtedly the country needs well trained company secretaries with integrity and the requisite ethical values to manage its corporate entities. As the regulation of company secretaries comes under the purview of the Registry of Companies, the Registry identified the necessity for ensuring that company secretaries continuously keep themselves updated and abreast of current developments in laws and regulations related to corporations and business. This would ensure the requisite level of dynamism and competence to address an array of increasingly complex corporate objectives.

Under the initiative and strong support of its new chairman, Prof Abdul Manap Said, MAICSA came up with a proposal to help the Registry contribute to this undertaking as it has the resources, skills and capability to provide training to company secretaries as well as licensed secretaries. The Registry was receptive to MAICSA ’s proposal and this bore fruit eventually leading to an exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Registry on 26 August 1996 to pave the way for the establishment of the Company Secretaries Practice Group under the auspices of MAICSA.

The main objective of establishing the Group was to consolidate company secretarial practitioners from different backgrounds and disciplines into an unified body, with a view to enhancing their capabilities and professionalism to better serve the development of a more healthy corporate culture and ethos, hand in hand with the development of professional skills and expertise.

Members of this Group comprise an interesting mix of professionals ranging from young executives to corporate personalities and academicians with established credentials and positions of importance in their respective organisations. The membership of the Group has now grown to almost 4,000 members.

In this age of competing ventures and investments, good governance of corporations is essential to ensure their transparency and accountability. MAICSA has been championing best practices in corporate governance in the past few years and by 1996 interest among the regulatory authorities and professional bodies had grown to an unprecedented level. Regulators took note of the need for regulation in this area to ensure a healthy and strong corporate Malaysia.

To educate the Malaysian corporate sector on the importance of good corporate governance, the Registry of Companies (ROC) and MAICSA jointly organised an international conference focusing on the global aspects of the subject. As a direct result of these efforts, the 1996 International Company Secretaries Conference was held on 16 and 17 September with corporate governance as its theme.

The conference with the theme titled Corporate Governance: Challenges and Responses saw the participation of distinguished speakers comprising Registry of Companies and Deputy Registrars from six countries – the United Kingdom, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong, India and Malaysia.

This inaugural collaboration of MAICSA and the ROC in organising a major international event and the links forged demonstrates the Association’s close rapport and partnership with the public sector. The conference was also part of MAICSA’s contribution in ensuring members’ continuing professional development. It provides members the opportunity to network with other local and international delegates and helps inculcate mutual understanding and concern for the various issues and challenges faced by the profession.

MAICSA aims to take training and professional development to even greater heights in the years ahead. The expansion of its training and infrastructure facilities which would be made possible with the completion of new premises is deemed vital to answer this call. An eleven storey office unit, acquired by the Association at the Mid Valley Development in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 is now scheduled for completion. The ideal location of the building, with good public transportation services – stations for LRT, KTM Komuter, PRT and buses—offers the convenience of being a focal point for members and students of MAICSA. The purchase of the premises is also necessary to house the expanding Secretariat and to provide proper training and seminar facilities for the Association’s various and comprehensive activities related to the profession.

In 1997, MAICSA collaborated with the ROC, this time to conduct the first of a series of career talks on the profession of the company secretary and the ICSA qualification. These career talks which received the support and co-operation of the Ministry of Education were targeted at secondary school students, counsellors and teachers and were held in Trengganu, Kedah, Perak and Malacca. The objective of the roadshow was to encourage more Bumiputra students to consider a career in company secretaryship and to help address the continuing imbalance of Bumiputra company secretaries.

The year also saw the need for MAICSA 's constitution to reflect the changing role of the body's leadership. Towards this end, the Constitution was amended to rename the position of Chairman and the Management Committee to President and the Council, respectively, at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 3 May 1997.

Under the presidency of Leong Eng Yee, MAICSA recorded yet another milestone in 1998 when the ICSA Qualification was recognised by Malaysian Exchange of Securities Dealings and Automated Quotation Bhd. (MESDAQ), Malaysia’s stock exchange specialising in growth companies particularly those involved in technology based entrepreneurial business. Holders of the ICSA qualification with at least three years working experience in the securities industry have been accorded recognition to act as Compliance Officer in the category of relevant recognised professional qualification under BR 508 (2) (c) of MESDAQ Business Rules.

In 1998 MAICSA demonstrated the MALAYSIA BOLEH spirit of our land when one of its Past Chairmen, Edward Chan Kow Chian became the first Malaysian and the second Asian to be appointed as the ICSA International President in the Institute's 107-year history. Edward Chan had been an active member of the Institute’s Professional Standards Committee and the ICSA International Council. As International President, he brought the ICSA International Council Meeting to Kuala Lumpur. In conjunction with this meeting, he also organised the first ICSA International Members Assembly in Kuala Lumpur in May. The objective of the International Members Assembly was to provide a platform for ICSA members from all over the world to meet and network with each other. Prominent Malaysian speakers gave talks on topical issues relating to the Malaysian economy and corporate sector developments. A grand dinner at the Kuala Lumpur Tower was organised to celebrate this first gathering of International Council members and ICSA members in Malaysia.

1998 also marked the 100th anniversary of the Registry of Companies, an institution with which MAICSA has been closely associated and enjoys an extreme good relationship. MAICSA together with other professional bodies provided support and sponsorship for several anniversary events and its Council and Secretariat staff assisted with the organisation of various events to commemorate this landmark centenary celebration. The events included an International Conference on Corporate Governance, official launch of the Registry’s 100th anniversary celebrations, an exhibition and the Best Company Secretary and the Corporate Governance Awards and seminar roadshows and a series of regional activities.

At the closing ceremony of the celebrations held in November, the Best Company Secretary and Corporate Governance Awards were presented by the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. It was a proud moment for the Association an four of its members clinched four of the five Best Company Secretary Awards at the ceremony.

The rationale for the Best Company Secretary Award was to give recognition and encouragement to Company Secretaries who had shown competence and professionalism in discharging their duties and responsibilities based on the principles of transparency, integrity and accountability.

The ROC Centennial celebrations provided a fertile medium for the various professional bodies and industry groups to work together to promote interests of mutual concern. During the year, the idea of establishing a body to promote corporate governance was mooted. In March 1998, the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance (MICG) was incorporated. MICG was one of the five promoters of instrumental in the realisation of the idea and the subsequent setting up of the Institute. MAICSA remains active in the Council of Management of MICG to help drive the activities of the Institute.

March 1999 saw the launching of the Report on Corporate Governance by the Second Minister of Finance, Datuk Mustapha Mohamed. The Association is indeed honoured to be represented by Prof Abdul Manap Said on the High Level Finance Committee on Corporate Governance, headed by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, which produced the first comprehensive report on Corporate Governance. Other members of the Committee from the private sector include representatives from Federation of Public Listed Companies, Malaysian Institute of Directors, Malaysian Institute of Accountants, Malaysian Association of Certified Public Accountants and Bar Council.

MAICSA is geared towards contributing to the implementation of the proposals in the Report, particularly in the area of training and educational development of directors and other key officers in the corporate entities. As we approach the new millennium, the tradition of MAICSA-initiatied activities to further the development of a healthy corporate Malaysia is still very much alive.

Today MAICSA has been entrusted with the task of managing the education and training of key corporate officers by the MICG in recognition of the Association’s track record in training and professional development. The Association’s successful collaboration with government authorities such as ROC, SC, KLSE and IRB in organising joint training programmes is testimony of its commitment towards expanding its training activities. MAICSA is of the firm conviction that training and education are key investments to secure the future well being of the profession.

MAICSA ’s regular dialogue sessions with the regulatory authorities have also helped the Association keep members abreast of new developments related to the regulatory environment and to disseminate knowledge and awareness of the same.

The move to bigger premises in Bandar Mid Valley shortly should pave the way for greater expansion and development of the Association. It was due to critical shortage of office space at its existing premises in Bangsar Baru, acquired in 1992, that prompted MAICSA to consider the acquisition of the new office building, comprising a Signature Office unit of 11 floors covering approximately 21,564 sq. ft. The new premises will house a specialised library on corporate law and administration, as well as state-of-the-art training facilities to cater to the needs of members and students. Completion of the new building is scheduled for December 2000.