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Article

13 Nov 2021

Author:
Eric Paulsen, Free Malaysia Today

Commentary: Respecting human rights should not be viewed as a burden but a way for companies to flourish and increase their value

"Business can no longer disregard the human rights impact", 13 November 2021

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[...] It is time for Malaysian businesses to recognise that if they are not willing to embrace and comply with these human rights standards, then other governments, trade partners, companies, investors, shareholders and consumers may no longer be willing to support them and will take their business elsewhere. It cannot be business as usual, where profit is all that matters, and human rights are disregarded.

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After reports of human rights abuses and an extensive outbreak of Covid-19 among workers in glove factories late last year, the government acted. Brightway, which produces over 340 million gloves each year, and Top Glove, the world’s largest manufacturer of gloves, were raided. Both companies face charges for failing to provide workers’ accommodation that met the minimum housing and amenities standards set out by the Labour Department.

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In July 2020, the US Customs and Border Protection banned Top Glove from exporting its products to the US after it found forced labour practices in the production of gloves. [...] Most recently, Supermax and Smart Glove became the latest Malaysian glove makers hit by US import bans.

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Soon after the military coup in Myanmar, Kirin, a Japanese beer company, ended its partnerships in the country, while French energy giant EDF announced the suspension of its activities in Myanmar where it was involved in a US$1.5-billion project to build a hydroelectric dam. [...]

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Respecting human rights is a requirement under international law, but it should not be viewed as a burden on the business community. In fact, it is a way for companies to flourish and increase their value, as international markets increasingly prioritise responsible business practices.

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