The Government v Competition Law

Mahathir-Proton

In an emerging economy like Malaysia’s, where the government plays a strong role in guiding the national policy, it is without a doubt that the government has the ability to create an uneven playing field.

There are, summarily, two ways this can arise. The first are government regulations and policy. The second is more direct; where the government itself enters the market.

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Competition law and the Asean Economic Community

As the 29th ASEAN Summit in Laos comes to a close, it is worth considering the developmental trends for competition law within the Asean Economic Community.

Back in November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, the AEC Blueprint 2025 was adopted by the ASEAN member states.  The aims of the Asean Economic Community, or AEC, is based upon economic integration and the creation of a single market; ASEAN aims to attain the characteristics we see in the European Union such as the free movement of goods and people, and the reduction or elimination of import tariffs between member states.

It should be noted that rather than an overnight implementation, the adoption of the AEC Blueprint 2025 represents just another step in the gradual introduction of policies facilitating free trade within member states (the first blueprint was adopted in 2007).  Tariffs within ASEAN member states, for instance, are already at virtually 0%.

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Containerchain: 4 practical lessons

The latest decision by the MyCC in the Containerchain case illustrates how the Competition Act catches ‘agreements’ to restrict competition, even when there has been no express agreement between parties.

On 1st June 2016, the MyCC issued a final decision against Containerchain and 4 container depot operators in Penang Port. It fined them RM645,774 in total with an order to cease and desist from implementing the price agreed upon pursuant to their price fixing agreement. An RM7,000 daily fine was also imposed on each of them for any failure to comply within 30 days of the decision.

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MyEG: From permit renewals to insurance agents

On 6 October 2015, the MyCC issued a proposed decision against MyEG for abusing its dominant position as a provider and manager of online foreign worker permit renewals.  The market that was being harmed was not the permit renewal one however, and instead the market for mandatory insurances foreign workers are legally required to subscribe to.  A proposed decision is akin to the MyCC informing an allegedly infringing party what the case against them is and what penalties the MyCC has in mind.  The party is then given some time to reply. This is the procedure prior to all actual decisions.

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Explaining Malaysia’s Competition Act 2010

4 years into the Malaysian Competition Act 2010 (Akta Persaingan 2010) coming into force, the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) has come quite a long way in enforcing it. In 2015 alone 8 decisions and 3 proposed decisions were made, with 2016 having the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)’s first decision on appeal in the landmark MAS-AirAsia case, where both carriers were fined RM10 million each for what was allegedly a market-sharing agreement.

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