The Penang State Government will be introducing a “Code of Conduct for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities through the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” within state-owned and state-linked enterprises as well as the private sector after the 14th General Elections. The Penang State Government believes that the elimination of racial discrimination in the workplace is necessary in a Malaysia mudded by xenophobia, racial politics, religious extremism, and preferential treatment for specific ethnic groups in education and employment. We are committed to engaging the people, the public sector, the private sector and professionals in ensuring that everyone in the state regardless of race and ethnicity are given equal opportunities.
The Penang State Government is committed to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), and in drafting the “Code of Conduct for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities through the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” have been supported integrally by Pusat KOMAS and Penang Institute”. The “Code of Conduct” provides practical guidelines to help business enterprises to understand the standards embodied in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Additionally, it highlights how best enterprises can implement practical policies to eliminate racial discrimination in the workplace, and to enhance equal opportunities for all. The Code of Conduct does not seek to impose any legal obligations, nor is it an authoritative statement of law. It is designed as a voluntary code of conduct.
Since 2016, Pusat KOMAS and Penang Institute have conducted several roundtable discussions with the state government, state agencies such as InvestPenang and members of civil society. The feedback obtained from these engagements form the basis for the “Draft Code of Conduct” presented here.
The Code of Conduct, when completed, will comprehensively cover the following key points:
- Purpose and Status of the Code of Conduct
Highlighting the importance of organizations and business enterprises in building an inclusive foundation for society at large.
- Responsibilities of Employers
A guideline for employers in maintaining a working environment that is free of racism and racial harassment.
- Responsibilities of Employees
A guideline for employees to preserve an inclusive working environment that is free from racially provocative manners and to participate in measures introduced by the management for the promotion of equal opportunities
- Responsibilities of Employment Agencies
A guideline for employment agencies, acting as suppliers of job applicants, to avoid suggesting racial preferences for employers or indicating irrelevant conditions of race in job recruitment.
Where discriminatory practices do occur, business enterprises should conduct a proper inquiry and assessment. Where further assistance is required, the Code of Conduct will outline specific steps that victims can take.
The MMK EXCO Industrial Development & International Trade has endorsed the Draft Code of Conduct and is planning to continue having more consultations to improve on it. Comprehensive engagement with stakeholders such as the Penang Development Corporation, InvestPenang, FREPENCA, SAMENTA and others will be held after the upcoming elections.
The Penang State Government will also lead by example to plan and implement the code at all state-linked and state-owned enterprises, as well as major entities within the private sector. It is important to society as a whole for business sectors to adhere to nondiscriminatory practices and to pay due attention to the rights and needs, as well as the challenges faced by employees and business partners, particularly vulnerable and marginalised groups.
The EXCO Office for the portfolio of Industrial Development & International Trade, Entrepreneurial Development, Corporative and Community Relations will continue to work further on the Code of Conduct and be the main driver in its implementation after the General Elections.
A copy of the Draft Code of Conduct can be found here.
Released by: Deputy Chief Minister I, YB Dato’ Haji Mohd Rashid bin Hasnon