A Frank and Fruitful Discussion about the Fight against Corruption

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On 9 November, over 40 expats – comprising ambassadors, CEOs and Managing Directors as well as other prominent members of the diplomatic and business community – met with government leaders and an international expert on matters of transparency, accountability and governance for a candid and substantive discussion on Malaysia’s ongoing war against corruption. This two-hour dialogue, held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, was jointly organized by The Expat Group and the National Key Result Area (NKRA) Fighting Corruption. The day’s programme began with a series of short presentations highlighting the government’s bold new initiatives to combat corruption in the country by Andy Davison, CEO of The Expat Group; Dato’ Hisham Nordin, Director of NKRA Fighting Corruption Monitoring and Coordination Division; Dato’ Hajah Sutinah binti Sutan, Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC); and Michael Hershman, cofounder of Transparency International and CEO of the Fairfax Group.

At the beginning of his speech, Dato’ Hisham set the tone for the ensuing dialogue when he said, “The views of the expat community need to be taken into account by the government when making decisions and formulating policies. We are here today to hear your views on corruption and to share with you our ideas and initiatives.”

Michael Hershman, who was enlisted by the Malaysian government to consult on its anti-corruption campaign, gave a big-picture assessment of the government’s efforts. “The anti-corruption infrastructure is improving here,” he commented, “Change is happening here but more needs to be done. People – particularly expats who can be quite cynical – want to see fundamental change that is sustainable.”

After the introductory speeches, the floor was opened for discussion and the expats present, seated around a conference table, made their voices heard. The panel of speakers fielded tough questions and listened to honest comments and criticisms from the participants about the problem of corruption in Malaysia and what is being done to fight it.

Michael Hershman underscored the importance of expats and society at large in the fight against corruption,

“To succeed, it must be a coordinated effort between the government, civil society and the business community.”

One of the issues addressed was expats’ fears of retribution and repercussions if they reported their encounters with corruption to the authorities. Dato’ Sutinah allayed these concerns by assuring that the identity of those reporting corruption would be protected under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

The expat participants in the dialogue also offered concrete suggestions to the panel of speakers, urging the government to utilize social media such as Facebook and embark on an extensive marketing campaign to get their anti-corruption message out to the general public. These and other recommendations were well received by the representatives of the government present.

All in all, it was a frank and fruitful discussion, an opportunity for expats and the government to listen and be heard on the topic of corruption in the country.

For more information on the government’s war against corruption visit www.nkracorruption.gov.my. To report corruption, call 1-800-88-6000.


Source: The Expat December 2011 Issue

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This article has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com

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