Over the decades, the Engineering profession has been constantly grappling with ethical issues involved with political contributions by individuals to state or local candidates. It is a common issue even in the global context where political parties approach non-government organization (in the content, it’s an engineering firm) to assist or support the party on their campaign during the election period and these assistance usually comes with rewards in a lot of form, example the engineering firm will be awarded for the future major state projects or in the form of valuable assets or even cash which also known as bribe.
As the engineering firm’s owner or stakeholder, profits and the well-being of the firm is the most vital aspect and these offers to assist a certain political party might be accepted. If the specific party won the election, all the major projects will be given to the engineering firm as promised and this will form a monopolized market. From the interest of the industry, a monopolized market is unfavourable as all the big projects were given to a specific firm. There will be no competition among engineering firms as there will not be improvement. Besides that, monopolized market will cause the other engineering firms unable to gain profits and forced to either leave the states for more opportunity or close the firm down. With the closure of the other engineering firms, there will be no competition and the specific engineering firm that get all the major projects might slack off and it will directly affect the quality of the products. With low quality products, the national interests will be jeopardized too, image of the country will be ruined and cause tourism profits of our country reduce as no tourist would want to visit a country that the infrastructure is not safe. For the interest of engineering profession, these below average products might be view as the overall standard of the engineering profession in this country which will directly causes the other engineers to suffer as the oversea investor will not have faith in local engineers. Without competition, engineers could not further develop themselves.
Integrity is important to every engineer but it is hard to resist benefits that are so enormous that keep an engineering firm alive. How engineers should react to bribe and what actions should be taken?
To retain the honour of the engineering profession as a faithful agent or trustee.
To remain truthful in the professional reports, statements and testimony made.
Not jeopardizing the prosperity of other fellow engineers.
Contribute to sustainable development of the engineering profession.
An engineer as a professional, has a responsibility to their client or employer, to their profession, and to the general public, to perform their duties in as conscientious manner as possible in sustaining the society as well as the environment. Obtaining flying colours engineering degree is meaningless without upholding the practices of ethics and morale in the profession as an engineer as professional ethics is one of the most important concerns in today’s world. An engineer must entail far more than just acting within the bounds of law. An ethical engineer is one who avoids conflicts of interest, does not attempt to misrepresent their knowledge so as to accept jobs outside their area of expertise, acts in the best interests of society and the environment, fulfils the terms of their contracts or agreements in a thorough and professional manner, and promotes the education of young engineers within their field. Nevertheless, handsome amount of money incurred while dealing with the procurement of engineering related products which exposes the engineers with the possibility of bribery and unethical practices. Failures in engineering ethics lead to many legal consequences despite the failure in the engineering products alone.
In Malaysia, there are various causes related to the unethical engineering practices for example a senior assistant engineer with the Public Works Department, suspected to have received bribes amounting to millions of ringgit, is the latest to be caught in the nationwide anti-graft blitz in 2012. Some 30 projects, mostly to maintain and upgrade roads in Sik, were awarded to “selected contractors” in exchange for kickbacks. Sources said the suspect had been involved in such questionable deals by giving approvals in job indent forms since he held the position in 2012.So, the suspect will be investigated for corruption, abuse of power and money laundering. He is expected to be remanded in Alor Setar today to assist in the probe under the MACC Act 2009 and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.Those Statements have been recorded from the suspect’s wife, two technicians, two PWD employees, as well as seven contractors linked to him. These failures lead to bad perceptions by the members of the public that the engineers are less honest, less trustworthy, and more materialistic thus become prone to bribery. (Simon Khoo, 2017).
Figure 1: the percentage corruption in different occupation (BISHWAMANI POKHAREL, 2016)
This figure 1 survey is done by the Nagaik Research Bureau (NRB) under Nagarik national daily, shows that the politicians and the bureaucrats is the most corrupt in Malaysia which has 84 percent and 82 percent respectively. Besides that, that has 22 percent of engineer’s corruption.
“Khanal of the Department of Statistics says it is not possible to indulge in corrupt behaviour without some nexus, though the share of the politicians is bigger than that of any others.”The politicians find various ways to take bribes.””The people’s perception is enough reason for course correction, though the survey was conducted with a small sample size,” he says, adding it is not a good sign that the people think service providers are so corrupt. Likewise, former CIAA chief Upadhayaya claims that the whole system in Nepal is under a corruption nexus. “The politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, judges and police are all inter-linked,” he said. The anti-corruption watchdog also stands accused of being under the nexus. (BISHWAMANI POKHAREL, 2016)
Therefore, it is important for an engineer to halt this impression from persisting by undertaking the following action:
Transparent and fair evaluation Transparency is important in an engineer profession.
An engineer who involves in the procurement of a product as a technical expert should precisely understand the tender document and its specification needed throughout the procurement process. In addition, fair evaluation should be done on every tendered product and if any he should propose the most suitable product that benefits the end-user the most as an engineer is capable of making and acting on an informed decision in situations that the general public cannot, because they have not received the relevant training like an engineer has. On the other hand, the client or the end-user places trust in the professional of engineer that the product or service provided will be of benefit to them thus it is unfair to them if the engineer uses his authority and power to exploit them. Thus it is important for an engineer to maintain the public’s or client’s trust in the profession when they will continue to seek for an engineer’s service. Through these transparency and fair evaluation, the engineer can prevent the activity of gifts, hospitality, bribes or inducement which goes against the professional code of ethics in approving a tender’
Carry out spot check
An engineer can carry out a spot check at premises where a project is operated to know the exact condition and progress of the project. Spot check can be done on the materials used, work procedures and tools available and used in the project in ensuring the quality of the end-product which is within the expectation of the client rend-user.
Check and balance
An engineer should allow his works being audited by a third party who is also an engineer who has the same expertise as the assesse. Any comment received from the assessor should be accepted in an open heart by the engineer in improving his profession development Practise “Zero Tolerance” principles against briberyAn engineer should report unethical practices of accepting gifts, hospitality, bribes or inducement to the appropriate funding or regulatory bodies for instance Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (SPRM) or to the public if any sign of unethical practice is found in the project or the engineering process.
Be more competent
An engineer can improve their competency by actively participating in engineering-related organization like Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) and involving the activities conducted like seminar, visit/trip, discussion, dialogue and meeting. By engaging themselves in these activities, an engineer is exposed to information, knowledge, experience and idea sharing which make an engineer more competent in avoiding the unethical practices’) Reinforce a company share value By creating a ownership sentiment via a company share value, an engineer will perceive that this company value is established to only trying to solve the current ethical value that occurred within the company/organization but also trying to outline clear guideline on how they should do and response when such matters happened like solving the problem from the root and not from the surface only. On the other hand, an engineer feels that they are not being forced by the code to act as described by the code yet has more freedom and flexibility in practicing the professionalism. Otherwise, as the engineer feels that he is always being monitored and forced to follow the rules, he will not volunteer to do so and consequently has not initiative in preventing the unethical practices within the company. An engineer plays an important role in improving the socio-economy of a nation. Therefore, an engineer should possess a highly ethical behaviour so that unethical practice of accepting gifts, hospitality, bribes or inducement can be tackled in improving the professionalism as an engineer and ultimately developing the nation towards the Vision 202
From this question as stated in the provision of IEM’s regulations on profession conduct:
4.1 _Uphold the dignity of profession
Engineers shall at all times so order his conduct as to uphold the dignity and reputation of his profession, and to safeguard the public interest in matters of safety and health and otherwise. He shall exercise his professional skill and judgement to the best of his ability and discharge his professional responsibilities with integrity.
Besides that ,Engineers also should shall at all times so order his conduct as to uphold the dignity and reputation of the institution, and act with fairness and integrity towards all persons with whom his work is connected and other members. Therefore, Engineer shall not improperly solicit work as an independent adviser or consultant, either directly or by an agent, nor shall he pay any person, by commission or otherwise, for the introduction of such work. A conflict of interest is any activity, transaction, relationship, service, or consideration that is, or appears to be, contrary to the individual’s professional responsibilities or in which the interests of the individual have the potential to be placed above his/her professional responsibilities.
So based on the code o professional conduct guidelines for BOARD OF ENGINEERS MALAYSIA. In rule 4.0 a register engineer shall act each employer or client s as faithful agent or trustee.
Adhere to the current rules and orders It is an expectation by the profession that every engineer should comprehend the currently available rules and order related to their engineering professional for instance the Registration of Engineers Act 1967 (Act 138). Section 15 of this act specifies that if an engineer offers or accepts any commission while carrying out his/her responsibility as an engineer, he/she will be issued with a written warning or reprimand, fined not exceeding RM50,000, suspended from the registration of professional Engineer for a period not exceeding 2 years or cancelled from being registered as a Professional Engineer.
Therefore, it is crucial for an engineer to avoid any unethical conduct and uphold the integrity of the profession.
On the other hand, there are other acts related to the code of conducts of an engineer which include the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as well as Factories and Machinery Act 1967 (Act 139) which can be used as the pillars in ensuring that the engineers perform their work ethically by adhering the current laws and orders.
4.2Maintain company image and interest of fellow partners
In the code o professional conduct guidelines for BOARD OF ENGINEERS MALAYSIA. At 4.3 a Registered Engineer shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, from outside agents in connection with the work for which he is responsible
For the scenario, which I were the principal partner of reputable engineering-based firm, I have duty and responsibility to safeguard interest of fellow partners and all staffs too. Though the firm desires to secure new projects, the project shall be obtained via ethical appropriate channel such as via open bidding process. This should be the successful secret of the firm to-date.
All fellow partners also have high standard of ethical behavior and competent. They are definitely not supporting to secure new project via supporting errant leaders of political party. If I choose to support the errant political leaders, the company image and interest of fellow partners could be jeopardized because voters definitely reject errant political leaders and unethical approaches.
4.3 Do not jeopardize the prospect of other fellow engineers
All projects, especially government initiated for the benefits of nation and people, shall only awarded via competitive and open bidding process. For the scenario, which i were already principal partner of a reputable engineering firm, I presume I should already an elder engineer in the industry. Therefore, it is reasonably that both my firm and I do not jeopardize fair opportunity to other fellow engineers.
All engineer with appropriate competency and skills shall be given chances to secure the projects. In the long run, all engineers will become more competent and it is definitely good for the industry, profession and public.
4.4Contribute to sustainable development of the profession
All benefits obtained via inappropriate and unethical approaches are short term and not sustainable. Both inappropriate and unethical approaches, may in short period, make oneself gain. However, it is damaging both the individual and others in the industry because there could be many to follow unethical approaches. If this situation happens, the profession will become unattractive and not sustainable.
4.5 Be integrity and competent
Engineers’ works often involve millions of ringgits. The works are often related to benefits of public, nation and clients. Hence, we shall be integrity and transparent in both implementation of project and efforts to secure projects. With integrity, only public will perceive engineers are competent and not errant.
4.6Accept remuneration from employer for services rendered
Engineers accept remuneration for professional services, for their competency and professional services, rendered to clients. They only take responsibility that they are confident to discharge.
The errant leaders of political party, though make promise to award major projects upon winning the by-election, are not client to engineers. The administrator of the major projects is government, which are elected representatives by people. The clients are the government and people. Should my firm was chosen for the major projects, it is remuneration for services rendered.
4.7Make reliable public statement and relevant with qualification
Engineers are professional people with technical qualification and competency. He shall not make public statement which he is not deemed the qualified and suitable person to make. He shall not wrongfully make statement that resulted public perception that his fellows, company and all association memberships that he may have linked to backup and support of his statement. If he does otherwise, no one indeed will benefit but creation of bad image to his own and others.
4.8Do not improperly solicit work
By assisting the errant leaders of political party and in return for award of major project, in my opinion, is improper act to solicit works too. It is because there is no ethical method to secure jobs and it can be considered benefits accepted other than employers.
Both the government and the people indeed, are the employers and clients, if the projects awarded to engineers.
Though it is desirable for a firm to secure projects, the process shall be transparent and via competitive bidding process. Jobs awarded with hidden secrets and unethical method will not be sustainable for the firm. It is because the firm could have lost his competency. Furthermore, as an elder reputable engineer, he has greater responsibility to show good sample to his peers for advancement of the profession.
In other words, I will reject the request of the errant leaders of political party. If he is willing to listen, I will further advise them to listen to people and sincerely to provide services to people. With that, only will they gain victory in the by-election and supports from people.
BISHWAMANIPOKHAREL,2016, Politicians, bureaucrats seen as most corrupt, Nepal Republic Media viewed 25 Jun 2018.http://admin.myrepublica.com/politics/story/35824/politicians-bureaucrats-seen-as-most-corrupt.html.
Simon Khoo, 2017, MACC nabs engineer in latest case, The Star Online, viewed 25 Jun 2018.