Tuesday, July 27

Greater commitment to anti-corruption policies needed among Asean’s top listed firms

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SINGAPORE: More work is needed to ramp up the adoption and implementation of anti-corruption policies in Asean.

According to the findings of a business integrity research, on average, only 54 per cent of the top listed companies in five Asean countries have publicly disclosed commitment to anti-corruption.

The joint research by Asean CSR Network (ACN) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) looked at the top 50 listed companies in each of the five countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

It assessed their level of public disclosure related to anti-corruption efforts.

The findings were released here today at the Conference on Corporate Governance and Responsibility: Theory Meets Practice.

Commenting on the findings, Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of CGIO at NUS Business School said: “This is a good baseline for Singapore to be benchmarked using international standards.

“With room for improvement, we need to analyse and understand the inhibitors and issues faced by organisations and nurture a culture of transparency and disclosure.”

Meanwhile, Yanti Triwadiantini, the ACN Chair, pointed out that the findings are a good start for Asean companies to compare their level of disclosure on anti-corruption policies and accompanying actions to enable them to take the necessary actions to rectify any shortcomings.

She also said it will be a work-in-progress, but companies need to start somewhere.

“Progress made to tackle corruption in Southeast Asia will go a long way in building a more cohesive regional economic community with the fruits of labour shared by one and all,” she added.

Some of the key findings showed that companies scored an average of 45 per cent in their overall level of disclosure across the five Asean countries; Thailand led the overall level of disclosure, followed by Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia Ninety-six per cent of companies expressed a commitment to comply with relevant laws and regulations in their country; The report also showed that top leadership support was not as explicitly stated, with companies across the region scoring an average of 18 per cent, although Thailand bucked the trend, scoring of 47 per cent.

On average, the report showed 59 per cent of the companies had a policy covering gifts, hospitality and expenses, although the average score across them was 59 per cent.

The scores were pulled by Thailand which scored a high 84 per cent compared to the others which ranged from 39 per cent in Malaysia to 63 per cent in Indonesia.

The study was implemented as part of ACN’s “Integrity Has No Borders” initiative and supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Prosperity Fund.

Thirteen questions from Transparency International’s study on “Transparency in Corporate Reporting” were used.

The information was gathered from the companies’ websites, annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate governance reports and Code of Conduct.

The conference, from Wednesday to Friday, is designed to provide a platform for key stakeholders engaged in teaching, researching and implementing corporate governance and responsibility to participate in high-level lectures, interactive dialogue and consultation.

This is while sharing practices and experiences, including site visits and executive meetings.

The event brings together some 200 speakers and delegates from across the region and globally.

It includes senior representatives from universities and think tanks, as well as corporate practitioners, civil society leaders, and policymakers. — Bernama