Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV/AIDS Forum sets into motion anti-workplace discrimination legislation

MBCH Forum 2017 sets into motion anti-workplace discrimination legislation

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 October 2017 – The Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV/AIDS (MBCH) Annual Forum returned to unite corporate Malaysia on the ongoing discourse to strengthen prevention and management of HIV/AIDS at the workplace.

Organised by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF), it also set the stage for a game-changing announcement by Dato’ Sri (Dr.) Richard Riot Anak Jaem, Minister of Human Resources.

“We will strengthen our commitment to support the high-impact work of the MAF and its sister organisation the Malaysian AIDS Council on the enactment of the Code of Practice on Prevention and Management of HIV/AIDS at the Workplace and ensuring legal protection for workers living with HIV against any form of HIV/AIDS-based workplace discrimination,” he said in his speech to launch the MBCH Annual Forum.

He added that the Ministry would take the first step by reviewing the Code of Practice before presenting the draft legislation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“We are trying to work on it. By saying so, it means we have to find out if it is being practised in other countries. That is important.”

Currently, companies in Malaysia are only guided by the aforementioned Code of Practice, which is non-compulsory.

“Despite having the Code of Practice for more than a decade, getting companies to adopt it has been an uphill battle,” remarked Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman, MAF.

“If we have a legislation, companies should not be able to terminate an employee just because he or she is diagnosed with HIV.”

Dato’ Sri (Dr.) Richard Riot Anak Jaem, Minister of Human Resources (centre); Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman, Malaysian AIDS Foundation (fourth from right); Dato’ Maznah Abdul Jalil, Honorary Treasurer, Malaysian AIDS Foundation (fourth from left); and Bakhtiar Talhah, Chairman, Malaysian Business Consortium on HIV/AIDS (MBCH) (second from right) with officials and participants of the MBCH Annual Forum 2017.

“We are very proud to partner with the MAF to support two other initiatives in addition to the MBCH. One of them is the Paediatric AIDS Fund, a financial assistance programme that helps children living incredibly tough lives – either living with HIV themselves or with families affected by HIV – by keeping them in school.”

Joining GSK Malaysia as new members of the MBCH this year are Dialog Petroleum Sdn Bhd, Ireka Corporation Berhad, Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad, Sime Darby Motors, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, and Sime Darby Property Berhad.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur has embarked on a social responsibility partnership with the MAF since 2014. It hosted the MBCH Annual Forum for the second consecutive year.

“HIV/AIDS affects each and every one of us and we at Hilton believe that all of us have a role to play – if not the responsibility – to reduce and ultimately end the negative impact of this epidemic,” said Jamie Mead, Regional General Manager, Hilton Hotels Malaysia.

“Indeed, we are proud to be a business that is aligned with the greater global movement striving towards Ending AIDS.”

Besides a total contribution of RM5.7 million to the MAF and the Malaysian AIDS Council in the past four years, Sime Darby Foundation’s commitment to the AIDS response is demonstrated through HIV/AIDS advocacy.

“This is significant in the sense that we are saving lives directly and we can see the impact it has had on the lives that we are saving,” said Hajah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Chief Executive Officer, Sime Darby Foundation.

“Advocacy is the most important thing for the future of our children and for people living with HIV to eradicate stigma and discrimination. It will lead them to a better life.”

As the MAF continues to make progress at the workplace, more corporations are encouraged to join the MBCH and be part of the corporate Malaysia Ending AIDS movement.

The MBCH Annual Forum 2017 was held in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Sime Darby Foundation, GSK Malaysia, Hilton Kuala Lumpur, PETRONAS, and the Standard Chartered Global Business Services.

So far only 42 companies in Malaysia have adopted the Code of Practice with PETRONAS being the first government-linked company to institutionalise a HIV/AIDS workplace policy.

“Under our policy, employees living with HIV will never be discriminated against in terms of employment, transfers or promotions on the basis of their HIV status because we do not test for HIV at pre-employment, or at any point for that matter, during the person’s employment,” explained Dr. Kumar Supramaniam, Head, Global Occupational Health, PETRONAS.

He added that HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and awareness programmes have gone a long away in removing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

“As a result, people are now more comfortable to seek treatment and counselling.”

This year’s MBCH Forum focused its attention on the ‘Impact of HIV/AIDS on Businesses’. It could not have been timelier as corporate Malaysia strives to make ending AIDS by 2030 its business priority.

“With sound HIV/AIDS workplace policies, you can be certain to retain the talented and the most productive employees in your company who may be living with HIV,” said Bakhtiar Talhah, Chairman, MBCH, and President, Malaysian AIDS Council.

“You are also giving away accurate HIV/AIDS information to your workforce. That in turn protects them from HIV.”

Companies which have come forward in support of the MBCH include GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd (GSK Malaysia).

“GSK was actually the first company to discover the first antiretroviral, so we have a very rich history in the sphere of HIV/AIDS,” said Ramil Burden, Vice President and General Manager, GSK Malaysia.

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