In this webinar, Dr Michael Schaper explores how the chambers of commerce, trade associations and professional bodies are adapting to challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia, and what is the likely future for such organisations.
MALAYSIAN STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
Thursday, 23 July 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar on “Malaysian Business Associations in A Changing Landscape: Recent Issues and Future Challenges”. The webinar was delivered by Dr Michael Schaper, Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, and former CEO of the Canberra Business Chamber (CBC).
Dr Michael Schaper began his presentation by sharing the key features of business associations. He then focused on the topic of business associations in Malaysia, covering the five different types of business associations — peak national bodies, state/territory peak chambers, industry-specific sectoral trade associations, local chambers of commerce (local towns) and bilateral country-to-country associations.
Dr Michael Schaper went on to discuss the topic of business and government relations. He opined that business associations in Malaysia are gateways/intermediaries of advice and support to firms, reduce information asymmetry and imbalances, and allows governments to receive input and feedback on policies. He then highlighted the differences in business and government relations during the Barisan Nasional (BN) times and Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration. He illustrated these differences further using the responses collected from 50 different associations, regarding their experience of dealing with a new government after more than 60 years on one-party rule, their lessons learnt from this and other major changes that are impacting them today.
Dr Michael Schaper also pointed out some emerging issues such as low levels of female participation in governing bodies, limited financial resources and staffing levels, and the difficulty in recruiting good staff. He stated that there are plenty of contemporary challenges ahead which include maintaining and growing membership, the challenge of virtual (online) associations and the impact of Covid-19 on associations.
The webinar concluded with Dr Michael Schaper engaging in a question and answer session. In the session, he shared his views on issues such as the extent to which race-based business associations limit the country’s business performance, the impact of digitalisation on business chambers, and whether the business associations have certain shared perspectives particularly concerning the extent to which Government Linked Companies (GLCs) are present in the Malaysian Economy.