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An IEM Outreach Programme to G&S Members The Code of Ethics (or the Code of Professional Conduct) ~ The Hallmark

of Professionalism; Engineering in Malaysia

By Engr. Rocky H.T. Wong, PEng, FIEM; Hon FAFEO-ASEAN Engr, Founding Fellow (AAET), Hon. Fellow (TEEAM); Chairman IEM pro ETI Bureau, Past Chairman ACEM, Past President FACE, The Head Commissioner ASEAN Engineers Register (AER) Commission.

During the period before independence and immediately thereafter, membership of learned societies for engineers (including pupil engineers), with the ICE, IMechE, IEE, and the IEM (after 1959) was the Hallmark of Professionalism.

Most Malayan engineers then were in the employ of PWD (JKR), CEB/NEB (TNB), MR (KTM), DID (JBS), Telecoms (TM), MU (UM) etc.
A larger part of the early membership in the IEM came from amongst the rank of engineers working for the government. The earlier Past Presidents of the IEM were usually the Heads of those Government Departments and agencies.

To be promoted in government service an engineer must prove that he is a Professional Engineer - meaning, he is a M.I.E.M~ a gold standard hallmark of professionalism; much respected by peers and allure respect by others.

On the other hand, in the private sector, an engineer with IEM corporate membership such as; MIEM or FIEM meant that he had the license to practise consulting engineering in the field of his engineering discipline.

A competitive consulting engineer would endeavour to attain corporate fellowship in the IEM and additionally, in a UK based engineering learned society of his discipline e.g. ICE or IMech or IEE, etc. and would have earned him the CEng status.

However, membership in the IEM (before the existence of BEM) entitled the engineer to pre-fix his name the appellation: Ir. a qualified practitioner of engineering; equivalent to the status of C.Eng.

The Code of Practice

To qualify for membership in the IEM meant and continue to mean, that a person conforms to a Code of Practice defined by what follows:-

The Engineers Code of Practice of five (5) components.

1. Accreditation Procedure; an engineering education programme and IHL audit process of qualifications for the purpose of membership entry consideration.

2. Code of Ethics (or Code of Professional Conduct); 3. Professional Interview (PI); for the purpose of admission into Corporate Membership by way of peer-based assessment which includes the following:-


Actual face-to-face interview

ii. Part A; Written Exam on training and experience gained during the prescribed pupilage or PDP period iii. Part B; another written exam on the proper order of action required of a professional engineer, in situations that may result in a conflict between an Engineers self interest and his duty to others i.e. his COE .

Life long learning to keep obsolescence at bay (now known as CPD) as per the objectives of the IEM, i.e .. to promote and advance the science and profession of all aspects of engineering.

Public Interest driven science, engineering & technology (SET) centric design codes and standards, addressing the essential requirements of: safety, health and the welfare of the community and the environment overall.

The Registration of Engineers Act, 1967 - the REA 67

The Registration of Engineers Act was passed by Parliament in 1967 but was only implemented on 23 August 1972 when the Board of Engineers, Malaysia (BEM) was operationalised.

BEM registers ALL:Professional Engineers, Graduate Engineers, and Foreign (Temporary) Engineers.

The REA 67 over 41 years, has been amended 6 times:

The first two minor amendments of 1972 (Act A132) and 1973 (Act A173) for orperationalising the BEM; Amendments in 1974 (Act 218) gave rise to the much talked about Clause 7A Body Corporate which may practise as consulting engineers hitherto was only restricted to the natural persons. And the power of the President of the BEM was further boosted!

Amendments in 1987 (Act A662) introduced the temporary registration as a Professional Engineer of any foreign engineer and making the Act explicit in the restriction on employment of unregistered person as an Engineer: No person shall employ as an Engineer any person who is not registered under this Act.

Amendments in 2002 (Act A1158) introduced the term Engineering Consultancy Practice (ECP) under the amended Clause 7A; . a sole proprietorship, partnership or body corporate may practise as an Engineering Consultancy Practice and recover in any court any fee; remuneration or other form of consideration for any professional engineering services rendered...

New clause 7B permits a body corporate ECP in providing combined engineering and architectural consultancy services, together with quantity surveying services. It deals with details concerning the Board of Directors, and permitted percentages of equity by the various parties.

Act A1158 created the perception that there are two categories of P.Engs, viz the original category P.Eng having the inherent right to practise and the newly defined ECP P.Eng.

A new Clause 10B deals with the registration of Accredited Checkers who have proven practical experiences in the design and construction of buildings as defined in the Streets, Drainage and Building Act 1974 (Act 133).

The latest amendments passed as Act A1288 early last year (i.e 2007) aligns the REA with the introduction of the C.C.C. policy (implemented on 12 April 2007). The issuance of the Certificate of Completion and Compliance was launched by the PM on 13 April 2007.
The C.C.C. replaces the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) previously issued by Local Authorities.

A new Part IIIA on Disciplinary Committee has been introduced. The intention of this is to provide the necessary confidence among the public that when ECP P.Engs as submitting persons signed off the CCC they do so professionally, after due care and diligence.

The BEM is the domestic Regulator of the practice of engineering in Malaysia. In the context of the ASEAN MRA on Engineering Services, the BEM is Malaysias designated Professional Regulatory Authority i.e. PRA for Engineering Services.

An Engineer can only be a Registered Engineer with the BEM and NOT call oneself a member of the BEM.

Whereas the same engineer when he joins the IEM becomes a Member and .. shall be entitled to the use of the title Engr. placed before (his/her) name.

The REA 67 provides for the BEM to work closely with the IEM vis--vis the Engineers Code of Practice in most aspects.

In the early days of the BEM and before the coming into force of the Registration of Engineers Regulation 1990; to be registered a Professional Engineer, the engineer must first have been accepted into the IEM as a Corporate Member.

Even with the introduction of the BEMs Professional Assessment Examination (PAE), the equivalence of IEM Corporate Membership with P.Eng status has been maintained. Section 10(2)(i)(b) says; Quote:- Subject to this Act, the following persons shall be entitled on application to be registered as Professional Engineers. Any person who has passed a PAE conducted by BEM, or is a Corporate Member of the IEM; Unquote.

Section 7(i)(aa)(iii) of the REA 67, on the issue of Restriction on unregistered persons, Graduate Engineers etc, says; Quote: No person shall, unless he is a Professional Engineer be certified to describe himself or hold himself out under any name, style or title using the abbreviation Ir. before his name or the abbreviation P.Eng after his name or in any way in association with his name. Unquote.

Registration with the BEM is renewed annually ~ a valid license to practise; the rights of the natural person whos a registered professional engineer having the title Ir., and to use the stamp as prescribed in the Second Schedule of the Act.

The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (The IEM):

The governance, management and administration of the IEM is by way of its Constitution, its Bylaws and its Regulations on Professional Conduct. The encapsulation of what is IEM; is by way of the IEMs Vision, Mission, Functions and Objectives, reproduced as follows:-


Vision, Mission, Functions and Objectives

The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia aims to be the premier professional organization pivotal to Malaysia achieving Vision 2020.


IEM shall promote sound professional engineering practice in support of the socio-economic development objectives of the nation.
IEM shall service the needs and interests of its members and the public and uphold the social standing and image of the engineering profession. IEM shall contribute towards nation building and shall strive to enhance societys consciousness of science, engineering and technology.

IEM is a society established to promote and advance the Science and Profession of Engineering in any or all its disciplines and to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas related to engineering.

The objectives of The Institution as set out in the Constitution shall include the following:a. to uphold meetings, exhibitions and visits, and such other activities as The Institution may deem incidental or conducive to the promotion or attainment of the profession of engineering; b. to raise the character and status and advance the interests of the profession of engineering and those engaged therein;

c. to promote honorable practice, and professional etiquette among members of The Institution; d. to communicate to members information on all matters affecting the profession of engineering and to print, publish, issue and circulate such publications as may seem conducive to any of the objectives of The Institution;
e. to do such other things as The Institution may think incidental or conducive to the attainment of the objectives of The Institution.

Membership in the IEM:Corporate membership in the IEM, viz. MIEM and more so FIEM (in due course), is the measure for peer acceptance of professional standing and it further represents the time honoured public recognition hallmark of ethical professional excellence.

The IEM welcomes engineers to become Corporate Members and hence attain the status of Professional Engineer, those who are: Ethical, Competent, Intellectual, Mature, and Responsible.

They shall prove to their peers that they are qualified to be M.I.E.M, because they are:

able to analyse and solve engineering problems by the application of science, engineering and technological knowledge;
experienced and have the skills for good management and communications; able to perform design, or able to integrate systems, and have relevant site experience; confident and mature to assume responsibilities.

IEM membership generally consists of Engineers:

Those who are engineering students who will one day graduate as Engineers; Graduates enroute to be Corporate members in due course, Corporate Members who form the greater part of the membership strength.

Besides engineers, IEM offers membership to other engineering services professionals, such as:-

Incorporated Member; Affiliate Member; and Associate Member.

The aforesaid exemplifies the IEMs perspective; how about the aspect from the BEM? Registration of an engineer with the BEM equates to legal recognition of qualification(s) and a BEM license to practise as an ECP provides the benchmark for QA professional services meeting the expectations of public interest. Only ECPs qualify to be UBBL defined Submitting Persons empowered to signing off the various forms aggregating to a project specific CCC.

The Engineers Code of Ethics (COE)

Why is the Code of Ethics important to engineers?

It is a HALLMARK of Professionalism; A BASIC qualifying requirement;

An EDGE in competition;
Ultimate BENEFIT of the profession.

Adhering to the Code of Ethics, the engineering profession will benefit in promoting its reputation, credibility and respect. The result: the engineering profession will maintain its attractiveness as a rewarding and respectable profession.

The Engineers Code of Ethics is a constellation of noble ideals binding the following into a virtuous paradigm of what a Professional Engineer and his upright bearing should be:-

The Profession: An Engineer shall at all times uphold the dignity, standing and reputation of the profession by his behaviour, actions and words.

With Colleagues: An Engineer shall not maliciously or recklessly harm or attempt to harm whether directly or otherwise the professional reputation of another engineer, but shall however foster the reputation of colleagues for the advancement of the profession.

Towards Employers and Clients: An Engineer shall serve employers and clients with honesty, loyalty and integrity in conforming to the highest standards expected of their respective community.

The Public: An Engineer in providing his services shall at all times be governed by the paramount interest of the public, in particular their welfare, health, safety and environment.

Oneself: An Engineer shall maintain and enhance his health and competency in subscribing to self and continuing professional development.

The BEMs Code of Professional Conduct (COPC)

The BEMs Code of Professional Conduct governing every registered Engineer is detailed out in the Part IV of the Registration of Engineers Regulations 1990 (Revised 2003) which came into force 10th November 2003.

The IEM Regulation on Professional Conduct (ROPC)

Article 2.18 of the IEM Constitution states that; Quote: Every member shall so conduct himself as to uphold the dignity, standing and reputation of the profession. He shall be bound by the Regulation on Professional Conduct. Unquote.

Then, in the IEM Bylaws, we have Bylaws 9.2, 9.3 and 9.6 which also deal with the professional conduct of members, and the formal set of Regulation of Professional Conduct which has been made by the IEM Council under the provision of Section IX of the IEM Bylaws.

What are the differences among: COE, COPC and ROPC?

The Engineers Code of Ethics represents the collective stance and the shared conviction of the Fraternity of Engineers. The sanctity of the Code amounts to a Honour Pledge which when breached brings shame and dishonour to both the transgressor and the profession. There is no legal enforcement; only selfrespect and self esteem, and the chosen inviolable value of life for someone belonging to a noble profession. If we dont respect ourselves, who would, - that is the point and the bottom-line.

The BEMs Code of Professional Conduct represents the Law and when broken, investigation and disciplinary processes follow; akin to the legal procedures of the Court. Should the respondent registered engineer be found to have indeed broken the law, his act unbecoming of a registered engineeer will be criminalized!

The IEMs Regulation on Professional Conduct is a consensus among members, which will be reviewed periodically and made relevant. Enforcement is by way of peerjudgement followed by a complaint in writing.

Should the prescribed peer-judgement be taken to its logical conclusion, and the complaint substantiated, the member may be expelled; perhaps reprimanded or fined otherwise expulsion. There is a long list of what may follow - but by then, the adjudged member would have resigned!

Conclusion: clich as it may, a professional engineer inspired by the Engineers Code of Practice, and believes without reservation the Engineers Code of Ethics, abides by the BEMs Code of Professional Conduct, and subscribes to the IEMs Regulation on Professional Conduct as an active IEM Corporate Member; this Engineer would have attained the Hallmark of Professionalism.