On 8 October 2015, the Bursa Malaysia ASEAN CAP10 Sustainability Symposium was held at the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur with the theme, “Responsible Business, Responsible Investing.” The symposium was organised as a platform to create bold and deep conversation about the growth of the marketplace in the ASEAN region by focusing on sustainability. Participants included Board members, upper management, sustainability practitioners and sustainability leaders from various public-listed companies (PLCs).
MISC’s President/CEO, Mr. Yee Yang Chien was invited as a panel member in one of the Panel Discussions entitled “The Value of Sustainability Practices and Reporting to Stakeholders”. The panel members also comprised of top level representatives from BlackRock, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) (KWAP) and Bursa Malaysia, and the session was moderated by a representative from WWF International.
The main theme of this panel centered around the values gained by organisations in adopting corporate sustainability as well as the relationships, expectations and benefits gained from this approach with respect to their wider stakeholders (with specific focus on the Investment community). The panelists in general agreed that there were obvious long-term sustainability returns to be gained for investors, who invest in responsible and sustainable organisations.
When asked on the importance of sustainability reporting and how this relates to the investment community, Mr. Yee said “Sustainability is not just about the reporting, it is about the philosophy and the thinking behind it. If Sustainability is practiced well, it should be naturally integrated into business strategy”.
He remarked that it is important for organisations to not only incorporate sustainability as part of their business, it should be put together in a meaningful and cohesive way that makes sense to the organisation and their wider stakeholders.
As far as the investment community is concerned, with regards to a wider engagement on the subject of sustainability – Mr. Yee added that there are certainly opportunities for further progress in this area.
He commented that the relationship between investors and the organisation should be more holistic and qualitative. At the moment, it is still quantitative in nature, where dollars and cents are still the main focus of dialogue. Hence, there should be more of a holistic dialogue that also includes sustainability elements (non-financial aspects) providing a broader perspective of the organisation beyond its financial performance.
Mr. Yee further added that “Although regulation and compliance are push factors (such as the avenues and platform promoted by Bursa Malaysia) as far as encouraging sustainability is concerned, there should also be the natural inclination and willingness in understanding the value of sustainability and in gearing towards it”.
Mr. Yee ended the panel with his comment that as far as the relationship between the investor and investee is concerned on the subject of sustainability – “there should be a homogeneous relationship between the investor and investee – in which both have an equal part in the contribution and progress towards greater sustainability”.
Earlier on during the day, the event kicked off with a welcome address by Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz, the Non-executive Chairman and Public Interest Director of Bursa Malaysia, followed by a special address by Lord Dr. Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, the Global Head of Corporate Citizenship from KPMG International.
Lord Hastings shared his insights as to why sustainable practices within organisations are important for business success and to also build reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. He also shared with the audience various examples of how many internationally renowned organisations such as BP and Volkswagen have been adversely affected financially and had their reputation jeopardised because they failed in “living” their sustainability practices. He remarked that one of the best ways to embed sustainability within an organisation is to incorporate it into the Values, Virtues and Vision of the company, to ensure that the company is constantly reminded of their commitment to sustainability.
The event also served as a launch for the Bursa Malaysia Sustainability Reporting Guide and Toolkits for the adoption and use by Malaysian PLCs. The Sustainability Reporting Guide was developed by Bursa Malaysia to help companies embed sustainability in their business strategy, where the economic, environmental and social (EES) risks and opportunities facing the organisation are taken into consideration.
The launch was officiated by Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Minister in charge of Economic Planning in the Prime Minister’s Department. He urged companies to take the sustainability agenda seriously as it is fast pervading the global economy where there is a visible shift in investor and consumer perspectives and companies performance are being measured by their environmental and social impacts.
Bursa Malaysia has been encouraging PLCs to report on their sustainability practices since the launch of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) framework in 2006, followed by the Bursa Malaysia Sustainability Guide in 2010. Since then, more emphasis has been placed on sustainability practices at Malaysian PLCs to enhance greater competitiveness both regionally and globally.
In December 2014, Bursa Malaysia also launched the Bursa Malaysia FTSE4Good Index, where a total of 24 Malaysian PLCs are listed for their good performance in managing their environment, social and governance practices. MISC is proud to be an index constituent since December 2014.