Strategic actions towards eradicating corruption

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Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan
Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia

The Malaysian Government, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations (UNDP) are jointly organising the 2013 Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies on October 21 and 22, 2013 at the Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Around 40-50 representatives from various nations will be in attendance, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department YB Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan is officiating the launch of the event at 9:00am on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Opening speech by Hon. Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, at the Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies, Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, October 21, 2913

Foremost, on behalf of the Malaysian Government, I would like to welcome all participants to this Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies and would like to thank our co-organisers, UNDP and UNODC, for giving me this opportunity to deliver the opening remarks this morning.

Undoubtedly the holding of this meeting is timely not only in support of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), but also in view of the need to share experiences and to build the capacity – especially that of emerging Asian economies in Asia – to effectively deal with corruption.

It is clear today that no nation can sustain economic progress unless corruption is eradicated or significantly reduced. Many challenges and problems caused by failed economic management and crime that a nation faces are in some way related to abuse of power and corruption.

Today, there is an increasing awareness of corruption, and civil societies are becoming more intolerant of the scourge of corruption. Many are demanding for political leaders to take measures to eradicate corruption and other forms of social injustice. It seems that we are seeing a worldwide phenomenon of civil consciousness for good governance and accountability from those in positions of powers and authority. This has now become a “movement” similar to the quality, green or human rights movements where civil society places a “demand” on the government to deal with corruption.

There are many reasons for this. People are less tolerant of corruption or mismanagement when their standard of living is affected, where there is a large disparity between the rich and the poor and where there is a lack of employment opportunities resulting from poor governance. If this is coupled with a lack of democratic space for inclusiveness in the consultative process with citizen groups, then we are likely to get a detachment of the government from the real needs of society.

Any government that is insensitive to the needs of society will lose its popularity and hence its mandate to govern. In a more matured society, people expect a clean administration and believe that it is their right to have one. Combatting corruption is a complex issue and any serious effort to eradicate or significantly reduce this scourge would require strategists to consider key factors in relation to sustainability and the transformation process that is required.

In order to have sustainability, combatting corruption and instilling good governance requires a holistic and integrated approach in strategy. These approaches collectively require us to deal with the following:

* Enforcement Institutions – especially the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. Their effectiveness will depend on their independence from the executive branch of government and the level of professionalism.

* The organisational structure, relationship and processes in the government that supports transparency, accountability and good governance.

*The framework to support compliance to good practices, including a robust monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanism.

* A system of rewards or incentives and discipline.

* A culture of zero tolerance towards corruption and eliminating any culture of impunity. The upholding of law and impartiality is essential to build trust and credibility.

In combatting corruption, it is said so often that there is need for political will or for the tone to be set from the top. This has been said so many times, but often without any real understanding of the term “political will”. The result? Changes made are mainly cosmetic in nature and there is a lack of seriousness to take tough measures. Personally, I believe that “political will” is simply the determination of the leader or any person in authority to decide and lead to achieve a determined outcome. This holds through regardless of the existence of a capacity to achieve such an outcome.

How often has this “will” been watered down by excuses and a defeatist attitude when we are faced with obstacles, resistance from entrenched interests and a lack of resources? Combatting corruption must start from having the attitude that “where there is a will, there is a way”!

The solution may not be possible today for whatever reasons, but it will be possible in future. This mindset is important for all corruption fighters to have in order to keep our expectations and hope within sight so that our zeal and passion will not be dowsed.

In real terms, how will a strong political will be manifested? These are some of the indicators where strong political will exists in the fight against corruption:

* Commitment to put in resources

* Safeguarding of enforcement institutions from political interference.

* Consistency in upholding the rule of law.

* Leaders walking the talk.

* Commitment to concerted actions.

Any anti-corruption strategy will fail in its implementation stage and will not be sustainable if there is a lack of ownership of the strategic actions and changes to be implemented. Therefore, it is extremely important to engage all key stake holders. Ideas for change can come from the outside but the implementation of these ideas must come from the inside. Ownership must come from the top echelon and cascade down to the grass roots, reaching to frontline services.

In the case of Malaysia, we forge collective ownership of our anti-corruption strategies through joint ministerial collaboration basically between me (as the Minister in charge of governance and integrity) and the relevant Minister for a particular ministry.

The head of the Ministry, in our case – the Secretary General being the “CEO” of that particular Ministry – will take the lead with the help of a governance and integrity team which includes experts, a representative from the Auditor General, NKRA Team, Institute of Integrity (IIM), Chief Integrity Officer and the internal auditor. The Chief Integrity Officer will be supported by a team in the integrity unit and – together with the Secretary General – become the main drivers in the implementation of all anticorruption measures that are to be taken.

Finally, to ensure the success of strategies taken, regular reports will be made to the cabinet where the prime minister and all ministers will be able to know of the overall progress made in each ministry.

Once again, I would like to wish all participants a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable stay here.

Thank you.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia

The Malaysian Government, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations (UNDP) are jointly organising the 2013 Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies on October 21 and 22, 2013 at the Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan
Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia

The Malaysian Government, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations (UNDP) are jointly organising the 2013 Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies on October 21 and 22, 2013 at the Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Around 40-50 representatives from various nations will be in attendance, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department YB Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan is officiating the launch of the event at 9:00am on Monday, October 21, 2013.

Opening speech by Hon. Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, at the Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies, Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, October 21, 2913

Foremost, on behalf of the Malaysian Government, I would like to welcome all participants to this Asia Regional Meeting on Anti-Corruption Strategies and would like to thank our co-organisers, UNDP and UNODC, for giving me this opportunity to deliver the opening remarks this morning.

Undoubtedly the holding of this meeting is timely not only in support of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), but also in view of the need to share experiences and to build the capacity – especially that of emerging Asian economies in Asia – to effectively deal with corruption.

It is clear today that no nation can sustain economic progress unless corruption is eradicated or significantly reduced. Many challenges and problems caused by failed economic management and crime that a nation faces are in some way related to abuse of power and corruption.

Today, there is an increasing awareness of corruption, and civil societies are becoming more intolerant of the scourge of corruption. Many are demanding for political leaders to take measures to eradicate corruption and other forms of social injustice. It seems that we are seeing a worldwide phenomenon of civil consciousness for good governance and accountability from those in positions of powers and authority. This has now become a “movement” similar to the quality, green or human rights movements where civil society places a “demand” on the government to deal with corruption.

There are many reasons for this. People are less tolerant of corruption or mismanagement when their standard of living is affected, where there is a large disparity between the rich and the poor and where there is a lack of employment opportunities resulting from poor governance. If this is coupled with a lack of democratic space for inclusiveness in the consultative process with citizen groups, then we are likely to get a detachment of the government from the real needs of society.

Any government that is insensitive to the needs of society will lose its popularity and hence its mandate to govern. In a more matured society, people expect a clean administration and believe that it is their right to have one. Combatting corruption is a complex issue and any serious effort to eradicate or significantly reduce this scourge would require strategists to consider key factors in relation to sustainability and the transformation process that is required.

In order to have sustainability, combatting corruption and instilling good governance requires a holistic and integrated approach in strategy. These approaches collectively require us to deal with the following:

* Enforcement Institutions – especially the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. Their effectiveness will depend on their independence from the executive branch of government and the level of professionalism.

* The organisational structure, relationship and processes in the government that supports transparency, accountability and good governance.

*The framework to support compliance to good practices, including a robust monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanism.

* A system of rewards or incentives and discipline.

* A culture of zero tolerance towards corruption and eliminating any culture of impunity. The upholding of law and impartiality is essential to build trust and credibility.

In combatting corruption, it is said so often that there is need for political will or for the tone to be set from the top. This has been said so many times, but often without any real understanding of the term “political will”. The result? Changes made are mainly cosmetic in nature and there is a lack of seriousness to take tough measures. Personally, I believe that “political will” is simply the determination of the leader or any person in authority to decide and lead to achieve a determined outcome. This holds through regardless of the existence of a capacity to achieve such an outcome.

How often has this “will” been watered down by excuses and a defeatist attitude when we are faced with obstacles, resistance from entrenched interests and a lack of resources? Combatting corruption must start from having the attitude that “where there is a will, there is a way”!

The solution may not be possible today for whatever reasons, but it will be possible in future. This mindset is important for all corruption fighters to have in order to keep our expectations and hope within sight so that our zeal and passion will not be dowsed.

In real terms, how will a strong political will be manifested? These are some of the indicators where strong political will exists in the fight against corruption:

* Commitment to put in resources

* Safeguarding of enforcement institutions from political interference.

* Consistency in upholding the rule of law.

* Leaders walking the talk.

* Commitment to concerted actions.

Any anti-corruption strategy will fail in its implementation stage and will not be sustainable if there is a lack of ownership of the strategic actions and changes to be implemented. Therefore, it is extremely important to engage all key stake holders. Ideas for change can come from the outside but the implementation of these ideas must come from the inside. Ownership must come from the top echelon and cascade down to the grass roots, reaching to frontline services.

In the case of Malaysia, we forge collective ownership of our anti-corruption strategies through joint ministerial collaboration basically between me (as the Minister in charge of governance and integrity) and the relevant Minister for a particular ministry.

The head of the Ministry, in our case – the Secretary General being the “CEO” of that particular Ministry – will take the lead with the help of a governance and integrity team which includes experts, a representative from the Auditor General, NKRA Team, Institute of Integrity (IIM), Chief Integrity Officer and the internal auditor. The Chief Integrity Officer will be supported by a team in the integrity unit and – together with the Secretary General – become the main drivers in the implementation of all anticorruption measures that are to be taken.

Finally, to ensure the success of strategies taken, regular reports will be made to the cabinet where the prime minister and all ministers will be able to know of the overall progress made in each ministry.

Once again, I would like to wish all participants a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable stay here.

Thank you.

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