17 JUNE 2014

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,

The Hon. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Siti Norma Yaakob;
Chairman of the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC),

Distinguished Members of the Commission;

Madam Shila Dorai Raj;
Chief Executive Officer of MyCC,

Delegates from the ASEAN Member States;

Representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and the GIZ;

Representatives from the Ministry of Domestic Trade,
Co-operatives & Consumerism

Distinguished Speakers;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all and Salam Satu Malaysia.

First and foremost, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all present here today at this ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC) Workshop on Investigation and Case-Handling. We are honoured to be the host country for this joint workshop with the ASEAN Secretariat and the GIZ.

As we move towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, it is vital for ASEAN member states to step up integration efforts and strengthen the foundation for a competitive and globally connected region.

Accordingly Malaysia has strived to put in place policies that support such efforts, with the enforcement of the Competition Act 2010 in 2012 marking a major milestone. The Competition Act 2010 came about after 19 years of consideration and in a few short years we have established the Competition Commission and the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This clearly signals the Government’s commitment in laying the groundwork for a competitive environment.

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we know, competition plays an important role to bring about a healthy economic environment. Consumers benefit from increased variety of goods and services and lower prices; meanwhile enterprises gain through greater efficiency and lower supply costs.  An efficient distribution of resources eventually leads to greater productivity and innovation for all.

To nurture such an environment, effective implementation of consumer and competition policies is vital. For the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives & Consumerism, the Ministry that I am leading, enforcement has long played a major role in ensuring consumer policies and laws are implemented effectively. With the establishment of the MyCC, we look forward to further strengthening our role through the   implementation of the competition law in order to bring about more benefits for consumers as well as a more competitive environment.

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am sure all of you will agree with me that unlike consumer laws, competition law is challenging to enforce even in established jurisdictions like the EU and the UK, due to its complex and technical nature. The skills needed to investigate are quite different from normal civil or criminal cases. Understanding economics and the business culture are key to bringing about a good case. I am made to understand that investigations can take up to several years to conclude, like the vitamin cartel case in the US which took almost 30 years to solve. Even a simple straightforward case can take up to a year to conclude. This is because, investigation of cartels in particular, which work in secret, are not only the most difficult kind of behaviour to understand, but they are the most complex kind of cases that competition authorities are dealing with.

In this context therefore, it is commendable to note that ASEAN together with GIZ, have taken the initiative to bring together this workshop to help investigators in the ASEAN region, who are relatively new to competition laws, learn the skills from not only the more experienced jurisdictions like the EU, but also from experienced economists who have had years of experience analysing cases using competition economics.

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may know, competition enforcement agencies face several challenges, among them are:-
i) Increasing investigative capacity to detect cartels;
ii) Initiating robust investigations; and
iii) Prioritising multiple enforcement matters to make use of available resources.

For a new jurisdiction like Malaysia, besides these, one main challenge that faces the MyCC, is having well trained and skilled people to successfully curb cartel behaviour. As we know, collusion and cartel behaviour are commonplace and some of our stakeholders are still opposed to the idea of the law as many businesses see it as increasing the cost of doing business and an interference by the government. What they do not realise is that compliance is an important discipline that they should inculcate in their day to day transaction and which in the long run can prevent unnecessary expenses.

However, as most of you would have experienced, advocacy and trying to make businesses understand the need to comply with the law is a long and tedious journey for all competition authorities. As advocacy and enforcement are the two major roles of a competition authority, we should take it in our stride and learn from the experiences of the developed countries on how to manage and balance the two initiatives.

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a broader view and in comparison with our established European Union (EU) counterpart, ASEAN is still striving towards a single market economy. While the Economic Blueprint envisions a competition policy and law for all member economies by 2015, the absence of a uniform view about competition law, is an issue which has to be dealt with. Therefore, the role played by the AEGC in promoting greater cooperation among the ASEAN member states through information sharing and capacity building is rather significant.

Thus this workshop, which sets out to provide practical best practices on investigation and case-handling, in addition to knowledge sharing on cases and penalties, is very much welcome and needed to further strengthen not only competition law enforcement teams but also to provide a platform for a clearer understanding of the rules and procedures that are needed.

We also look forward to regional cooperative efforts such as these as it will further encourage cross border collaborations as a whole, not only in exchange of techniques but also in solving cases.

Competition law regulation is continuously evolving and Malaysia too is constantly looking to fine-tune policies related to competition. The ASEAN platform has provided its member countries a conducive environment for cooperating in capacity building and activities in the regulation of competition law and policy.

Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Competition law and policy, being one of the significant components in the implementation of the AEC Blueprint, will see all ASEAN nations strive towards meeting its 2015 economic goals. Businesses or enterprises active in the ASEAN region would do well to take into account the dynamic competition law environment among the ASEAN nations, and ensure that their business practices are compliant with the respective national competition and sectoral laws.

This AEGC Workshop on Investigation and Case-Handling has been especially crafted for the benefit of enforcement teams. No doubt the experts gathered here today will provide invaluable insights and practical knowledge that will lead towards effective enforcement. I do hope that in time to come, Malaysia will be on the other side of the training programme, ie as trainers in investigation, to the newer members who introduce the law.

In closing, on behalf of the MyCC, once again I thank all for the cooperation and the effort to make this workshop happen. Please do enjoy it and make full use of the experts present here today.

I wish all of you a warm welcome. Thank you.

Wabillahitaufikwalhidayah, wassalamualikum w.b.t.

Prepared by: Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC)
Date: 11/06/2014