Corruption Could Be the Biggest Threat to ASEAN’s Economic Development

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is currently experiencing one of the fastest economic growths on Earth. Although this is great news for the area, the threat of corruption lingers on, casting a shadow over great opportunities. The main issue? The combination of the fastest-growing and richest economies with some of the poorest people living on this planet.

Transparency International counts over 100 chapters worldwide and it goal is clear, fight against corruption. Their vision: “A world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption.” This April the organisation released the ASEAN Integrity Community, a framework for transparent and accountable integration. The detailed report counts 27 pages and includes metrics on perception of corruption per country over the past few years. It also provides an action plan and recommendations for international cooperation.

Are ASEAN countries up for the challenge?

It’s a tremendous challenge. And with the majority of countries in ASEAN that still haven’t enacted Freedom of Information Laws, it’s a long road ahead. Will member states take accountability and work together towards a corruption-free economic development for the next years? Collaboration of all members as well as international support will be necessary for ASEAN Integrity Community to be a success.

A shift in mind-set will have to take place for all institutions: government, military, judiciary, business, education, police, etc. Some will be harder as they are rooted in culture and behaviors of generations. But one step at the time, the transformation can be achieved. Organisations and large projects that are currently importing/exporting, involved in politics or business with ASEAN must initiate change.

Setting the example

Industries like mining and oil & gas have to set the example in Asia. Why these industries more specifically? Because their projects involve community relations at every level: government, politics, civil, and so on. They deal with everyone from a lobbyist to a farmer. Plus, their projects are of large scale. If companies aren’t transparent in their communications, they’ll get bad press coverage. If they don’t follow up with commitments and don’t have the community’s support, projects come to a halt.

Inconsistent messages and processes combined with no tracking of who said what leads to miscommunication. And miscommunication leads to bad situations. Good community relations mean transparent and timely information is shared by organisations. And that’s one step towards diminishing corruption.

Educating the industry

This is where it all begins. In the upcoming weeks, there are various trade shows taking place in South East Asia. This will be a great time to educate extractive companies on how they can take part in lowering corruption in this region. Here are the three events we’ll be attending:

  • IPA CONVEX – May 20-22 in Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Asia Mining Congress – May 25-27 in Singapore
  • OGA 2015 – June 2-4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Make sure to look for Boréalis at these events. You can even book a meeting with us if you’d like.

Patrick Grégoire – President: patrick.gregoire@boreal-is.com or connect with Patrick on LinkedIn.

François Robichaud – CSR Advisor South East Asia francois.robichaud@boreal-is.com or connect with François on LinkedIn.

Together, let’s help ASEAN countries towards a great economic development that’s corruption-free.

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