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Malaysian customs chief wins top prize at Asia Tax Awards

The official with ultimate responsibility for the introduction of goods and services tax (GST) in Malaysia has won the award for Asia Tax Commissioner of the Year at International Tax Review's Asia Tax Awards in Singapore tonight.

Dato' Sri Khazali Bin Haji Ahmad, Director General of Customs, Royal Malaysian Customs and his department completed the successful implementation of GST, at a rate of 6%, on April 1 last year. In spite of protests against the tax around the time of its one-year anniversary last month, more than 400,000 companies have registered for the GST and more than RM30 billion ($7.7 billion) was collected from companies in 2015, which was more than the government’s target of RM27 billion target. Bin Haji Ahmad became director general of customs nearly four years ago, on June 22 2012.  

The director-general’s award was one of 61 presented at a dinner in Singapore. It was the sixth Asia Tax Awards ceremony, though the first since 2010.

KPMG was the most successful firm, winning 14 awards, including Asia Tax Firm of the Year and Asia International Tax Firm of the Year. They were followed by Deloitte, winners in 11 categories, PwC, who won seven awards and Baker & McKenzie, victorious six times. EY and Yulchon, with two apiece, were the other multiple winners. Twenty four different firms won awards.

As well as the award for bin Haji Ahmad, individual winners included Mark Tamayo of SGV & Co in the Philippines, who won the award for Asia tax practice leader of the year; Shanwu Yu of Baker & McKenzie, who was named transfer pricing practice leader of the year, and Tarun Gulati, of PDS Legal in India, who won in the tax disputes & litigation practice leader of the year category.

Download the winners here

Read about the announcement of the shortlists here


Between January and February 2016, companies, law firms, tax advisers, accountants and other tax service providers from these jurisdictions:

Australia; China; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Myanmar; New Zealand; Pakistan; Philippines; Singapore; South Korea; Taiwan; Thailand and Vietnam

were eligible to submit three examples of their best work for consideration for the national tax, transfer pricing, and litigation and disputes awards.

The awards for Asia Tax Firm of the Year, Asia Transfer Pricing Firm of the Year, Asia Tax Litigation and Disputes Firm of the Year, Asia Indirect Tax Firm of the Year and Best Newcomer (international tax practices of <5 years) will be judged from these submissions.

There were separate submission forms for the regional awards covering indirect tax, tax transactions, US corporate tax, FATCA / withholding tax, tax compliance & reporting, global mobility services, innovation and tax technology.

The awards will be judged according to:

  • Size (Not conclusive, though it does indicate what a tax team is capable of taking on)
  • Innovation (Did the advice the firm gave show something more than the straightforward answer that is commonly used?)
  • Complexity (Did the matter address tax issues that were out of the ordinary and what ingenuity did the firm show to solve them?)
  • Impact (What impact did the advice have on the taxpayer? For example, did it help them take over their biggest rival? Issue equity and debt in a particular market for the first time? Win an unprecedented judgement in court? Where did it help them become more efficient and profitable? Was there a demonstrable effect on official policy development?

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