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8 Dec, 2014

Corruption just as rampant in Private Sector, SEA-PAC meeting told

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 (Bernama) — Stringent reforms should be urgently drawn up by all regional anti-corruption agencies to curb corruption in the private sector, said Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

“The government must install a strong deterrent tool to curb corruption in the private sector. They (the private sector officials) pay bribes to (their counterparts) from other private companies to get their work done,” he said in his Welcoming Speech during the 10th Annual Meeting of the Memorandum of South-East Asia Parties Against Corruption (SEA-PAC) here today.

Quoting the Transparency International Report 2012, Abu Kassim pointed out that the private sector is no more a victim of corruption.

“Instead, it is instrumental (in effecting it) and hand-in-glove with public officers. Collusive corruption, where officials from public sector undertakings join hands with the private sector, is greatly present in today’s business environment, particularly in the procurement, construction and development.

“They (private sector officials) also pay bribes to (their counterparts) from other private companies to get their work done.

“Evidently, the focus on combating corruption in private sector is as important as combating corruption in the public sector. Our action needs to be focused in both sectors,” he explained further.

He emphasized that governments must install strong deterrent tools to curb corruption in the private sector as bribery and corruption problem among business is an alarming issue that needs comprehensive, systematic and consistent methods to address.

In accordance with the 10th SEA-PAC Meeting theme “Corruption Prevention in Private Sector”, Abu Kassim affirmed that member countries will be sharing important strategies, policies, best practices and experiences in dealing with bribery and corruption issues in the private sector.

Bringing this suggestion a step further, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan suggested for an ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Anti-Corruption be set up for counterparts who are ministers.

However, he lamented that he does not have similar counterparts from ASEAN countries and he encouraged head of ASEAN governments to appoint them.

“The benefit that Malaysia has by having this portfolio is that we brought the issue of governance, integrity and anti-corruption to the head-of-state for policy changes.

“Maybe in other countries, you have your law and justice minister and so on and it is good for us to push good governance to the front because corruption affects every area of our lives,” he remarked while addressing the SEA-PAC Annual Meeting.

Meanwhile, Abu Kassim said that a Leadership Centre has been established by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Academy (MACA) to serve as a “framework and infrastructure that caters and assists to develop and train young leaders”.

He added that this is in adherence with Chapter IV of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) whereby member countries are obliged to assist one another in every aspect in the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders.

It is the second time MACC hosts the SEA-PAC meeting held here from 1 to 3 December 2014, the first was in 2004. Its objective is to strengthen collaboration among member countries which include the Anti-Corruption Bureau Brunei Darussalam, Corruption Eradication Commission of Indonesia, Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit, Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman, National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand and Government Inspectorate of Vietnam.

Also present are high ranking officers of the Lao PDR State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority as well as the Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission. Myanmar is the latest country to be part of the SEA-PAC member countries. This additional inclusion marked the completion of SEA-PAC whereby all South-East Asian countries are SEA-PAC members.

In show-casing SEA-PAC globally, the SEA-PAC Portal that was developed and maintained by MACC will be launched in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SEA-PAC.

The number “10” is significant as the group consists of 10 member states. In addition, the SEA-PAC website will serve as a platform to promote sharing of information of activities that will appear on the website. It will also function as a common contact point for SEA-PAC members to enable better coordination of SEA-PAC activities. The contents of the website include an overview of SEA-PAC, logo, member countries, news updates, meetings, event calendars, presentation papers and details of contact persons or focal points.

The contribution of the MACC has been significant in the spectrum concerning operations and corruption prevention which includes forfeiture of property, implementation of mechanisms and anti-corruption programmes, improvement of training modules, code of ethics in businesses, exchange of information and experiences as well as a strong collaboration between agencies towards the enhancement of anti-corruption efforts worldwide and not to mention within the South East Asia region too.

Such recognition is an honour to the MACC as international communities have expressed confidence towards the MACC in contributing and playing an important role in the collaborative sharing of expertise and best practices in fighting corruption.