Rana Mohsin Ali
In Asian region, Malaysia has always been a leading contributor in bringing ethics and morals into the business practices. Many great concepts about Islamisation of banking system were first introduced in Malaysia in this region. For example in 1963, the Pilgrims Saving Corporation of Malaysia – although not a bank -began to incorporate basic Islamic banking concepts, which resulted into very strong modern Islamic banking system. Later, in 1990, the Islamic bond market emerged when the first tradable Sukuk – the Islamic alternative to conventional bonds -were issued by Shell MDS in Malaysia. Then Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) was established in 2002 in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia to promote the Islamic financial services. Government of Malaysia issued first Global Sovereign Sukuk in 2005.
Now a great philosophy called "Human Governance" has been brought into existence by a business school of Malaysia called Putra Business School. To understand the concept of human governance one may need to understand the difference between "Human Being" and "Being Human". Being human means being guided by a common set of principles inherent in every human being. These principles are actually built-in in every human being which give them sense to choose between right or wrong. The concept also carries portion of self-accountability; means even if we are not accountable or answerable to someone, it does not allow us to do something beyond our limits and values - we have to be self-accountable.
The common qualities such as honesty, integrity, respect, trust and excellence – collectively known as 'virtues' - are recognised in every society. These virtues lead to the development and survival of every culture. Society has to follow this set of standards to keep this world worth living.
As the corporations, organisations and the businesses are being run by the human beings and so they follow the same principles. Current history of corporate world reveals the failure of corporate governance by doing a lot wrongs while achieving profit-oriented goals. As a result we see the corporate scandals such as Enron, Arthur Andersen and so on.
Business schools around the world are teaching its students how to maximise profit, and how to continue to grow, without caring about what happens to the system and society. But the said school with this philosophy enables the students to learn these virtues. The virtues which we have been taught by our religion and we act on them when we were younger, but as we step into the real world, we get overwhelmed by some wrong values of greed, selfishness, materialism and so on. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Arfah Salleh, the President and CEO of PBS, one of the founder and nurturer of the concept, there is a team in which every person is a role model of Human Governance. In her book, Human Governance, she explains how the present rule-based governance system has serious limitations. Ticking of boxes for compliance only leads to a false sense of security that the right judgments and right actions are being taken. On the other hand, the concept of Human Governance is based on internal human values, and principles which are far more effective to regulate organisations.
This concept of Human Governance is very much needed in today's society, where corruption is getting prevailed allover, from top to bottom, from high government officials to a barber or a hawker, where moral values are being diminished. The philosophy makes a clear difference between being owner of something and being trustee or what we call "Ameen" (the one who keeps Amant) of something. For example, when our politicians take charge of some position, they are actually Ameen of that position, Public have trusted them and given them this position by electing them through their votes. Now it's the responsibility of that position holder that not to breach trust of people, not because later they will be investigated for their acts and will be punished, but for they should be self-accountable, they should know and do only the right thing. Same goes with corporate executives as well. Let's see how this concept nurtures and flourishes and help in making this world a better place to live.