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Transparency Thailand Newsletter, January, 2016.

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 Corruption and Anti-corruption: Case highlights in the Year 2015

Corruption and Sports: The FIFA Scandal

In December 2010, FIFA executive committee chose Russia to host 2018 World Cup while Qatar to host 22 World Cup Finals. Blatter said “For 2018 and 2022 we go to new lands, because the FIFA World Cup has never been in Eastern Europe or the Middle East.” Later on, it turned that the decision was as a result of complex corruption relationship among key FIFA officials. So far, key FIFA officials among them Blatter, Joao Havelange, and Jack Warner have been suspended awaiting investigations and possible prosecution. Among the key issues that have emerged from the case is the problem of autonomy without accountability mechanisms to ensure FIFA conducts its affairs fairly. 

Corruption and Multinational Companies: Volkswagenscandal

Volkswagen sold many cars across the globe based on the premise that it had software to control emissions. Later on, a Test by Environmental Protection Agency on 482,000 cars found that the device was fake. This caused international uproar and different countries took different actions for example:

Germany: Government demanded more transparency into the scam. It sought to determine the possibility of a criminal act in the story.

New Zealand: Consumers demanded among other things car replacement from local dealers, saying that they bought expensive cars based on deception conveyed by the company about gas emission regulating software.

France &Italy: Inquiries were launched to investigate the problem.

US: Scrutiny was extended to other manufacturers such as BMW, General Motors, Mercedes Benz and Land Rover.

Guatemala: A Case of Successful Protests  

Protests in Guatemala were successful in pressuring Congress to vote removing the immunity of the President from prosecution. Following the success President Otto Perez Molina, stepped down, was later arrested following investigations, and now is awaiting trial. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america

Cases of Successful Convictions against Senior Politicians & tycoons

The court in Tanzania sentenced two Ex-ministers to jail for corruption. The two serve a 3 year jail term.  The former ministers Basil Mramba (finance) and Daniel Yona (Energy and Minerals) were accused of abusing their authority in 2002 when they were in government for the ruling CCM party.  They among other things offered illegal tax exemptions and provided arbitrary in government contract awarding process.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33427066

Former Nanjing city mayor, Ji Jianye was jailed for 15 years over corruption. Nanjing was found guilty of taking $2.37 million in bribes from 1999 to 2012. Authorities also confiscated property worth $420,000 from the former mayor. Nanjing was nicknamed “Bulldozer Ji” for relentless efforts he made to promote construction projects. This is one of the recent high profile cases in China under president Xi Jinping's regime.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-07/former-chinese-mayor-ji-jianye-given-15-years-for-graft/6376294

Court in Vanuatu sentenced 14 MPs to jail and later dismissed the MPs’ appeals. The MPs including Deputy Prime minister Manoa Carcasses were jailed for a period of three to four years.  Carcasses and the cohort were charged with embezzling $452,000 from the public coffer.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-20/vanuatu-dismisses-appeal-over-bribery-charges/6960180

Money laundering key to financing terrorism

About 130 people were killed in Paris gun terror attack in France. Reports indicated that the terrorist had adequate money to purchase weapons, rent a car, and conduct the entire terror campaign. ISIS for instance has access to oil money and is also linked to money laundering through western based banking systems. About $300 billion enters the US from oversees every year. The money is operated under secret holding companies registered in countries like British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-vogl/terrorist-financing-needs_b_8584126.html

 Anti-Corruption Reforms with Harsh Penalties for Corruption

New law passed in Vietnam changed death penalty to life imprisonment if offenders return 75% of the corruption money/assets. The national assembly passed the law with sweeping votes. The law is part of the process to revise the nation’s penal code, and to find a balance between capital offenses and capital punishment.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/11/27/vietnamese-law-to-allow-corrupt-officials-will-escape-death-penalty

Thailand passed new anti-corruption law which expanded the death penalty for corruption offenders to include foreigners who commit capital corruption offenses in Thailand. Formerly, the law existed for government officials only. The seeks to bring to account foreigners who work for foreign governments, local and international organizations. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/15/new-anti-corruption-law-in-thailand-extends-death-penalty-to-foreigners

 Returning Corruption Money

Under World Bank supervision Switzerland returned to Nigeria $ 380 million, money linked to the former president General Sani Abacha. The money had been confiscated since 2006 under agreement between the Abacha family and the government of Nigeria, an agreement in which the government dropped its case against Gen. Abacha’s son Abba Abacha.  The money had been confiscated on the basis that Abacha family was a criminal organization.  Switzerland had previously returned $700 million to Nigeria, money Abacha family was holding in Swiss accounts.

http://news.yahoo.com/switzerland-returns-380-million-abacha-money-nigeria-120340738.html

Transparency Thailand News letter, August-September 2015

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Resolutions from the 2015 Annual Membership Meeting

1 September 2015, Putrajaya, Malaysia

Tax evasion and illicit flows

From the beginning of our movement, we pointed to the illicit flow of money from South to North, representing a major impediment to development.

Money laundering of bribes and stolen state assets has thus become a major target in our fight, increasingly since the early meetings of the G20.

 In our fight, we regularly join forces with fellow NGOs acting for the recovery of stolen assets and against tax evasion.

The 2015 Annual Membership Meeting resolve that Transparency International confirms its commitment to:

Ø  advocate for reforms and practices that address those financial systems that facilitate corruption and tax evasion and that allow those responsible to escape justice;

Ø   require strict compliance by banks and others with anti-money laundering rules, and;

Ø  Where possible and relevant, work with others, including whistleblowers, to close opportunities for abuses in tax policy, payments and collection.

Reconciliation and Amnesty Laws should not legalise impunity

In light of the projects of legislation in Tunisia, Mongolia and in other countries, potential amnesties for the crimes of corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation of public national assets committed in the past in those countries,

The 2015 Annual Membership Meeting resolves that:

Ø  Reconciliation and amnesty laws should achieve justice, accountability and social peace while upholding principles of transparency and integrity.

Ø  Such laws should be submitted to open national dialogues with state and non-state actors ensuring inclusion and participation of all concerned parties, in accordance with international principles for transitional justice, and respect for the independence of the judiciary.

Ø  Governments and parliaments, particularly in transitional and developing countries where public funds have been embezzled and national assets stolen – should endorse the aforementioned principles to protect the public interest and end impunity.

Ø   Specialized legal and legislative expertise should be mobilised; best practices and lessons learned should inform the process for technically well-formulated compact laws. 

Global Features in the fight Against Corruption

Thailand:Transparency Thailand is on air every Saturday 7-9:30 am, just tune in to FM 99.5. It’s about mindfulness over matter. It’s blue and white, colors that stand for a society, free from corruption.  Every week, Dr. Kanokkan Anukansai hosts anti-corruption radio program discussing a range of corruption issues in Thailand. The program also explores principles and best practices in good governance from around the world. On the 3rd of October, 2015, the program focused on exploring corruption and anti-corruption vocabularies. Vocabularies are not just words, but instruments of sense making. They reflect the sense we make of life every time we hear and use these words, for instance consciousness. It is the heart of moral awareness, the exact level of our senses that triggers the moral judgments we make.  In light of this, participants from around Thailand explored the consequences of the Volkswagenscandal for instance:

Germany: Government is demanding more transparency into the issues surrounding the scam. It’s assessing the possibility of a criminal act in the story.

 

New Zealand: Consumers are demanding among other things car replacement from local dealers, saying that they bought expensive cars based on deception conveyed by the company about gas emission regulating software.

France &Italy: Inquiries have been launched to investigate the problem.

US: Scrutiny has extended to other manufacturers such as BMW, General Motors, Mercedes Benz and Land Rover.

Guatemala: Protests in Guatemala successfully pressured Congress to vote removing the immunity of the President from prosecution. Following the success President Otto Perez Molina, stepped down, was later arrested following investigations, and now is awaiting trial.

Romania: Prime Minister Ponta was indicted on charges of forgery, money laundering, and tax evasion. As a result, the PM will face trial over corruption.   He became the first Romanian prime minister to be tried.

Switzerland: After months of dealing with FIFA corruption scandal, law makers in Switzerland reformed the law to make it easy to crack down on corruption in sports. However, the law also provides exemptions especially where public interest is not threatened.

Poland: Two tennis players in Poland were banned over corruption. Piotr Gadomski and Arkadiusz Kocyła were fined and banned from professional tournaments by the tennis integrity unit. Piotr Gadomski, 24, was found guilty of four charges of “directly or indirectly soliciting or facilitating a player to not use his or her best efforts in an event.”  He was banned for seven years and fined USD 15,000 for the misdemeanours. Arkadiusz Kocyła (21) was found guilty of three charges relating to incidents which took place in 2012 and 2013. However, He was given a shorter ban of five years, together with a fine of USD 15,000.

 

UK: Two Police Officers were arrested in the UK over taking too many free dinners while on patrol. The two, Sergeant Frank Partridge, dubbed “the Sheriff” of Soho, and Constable Jim Sollars, nicknamed “the Gruffalo” usually patroled Soho , a zone with night life streets, and bars. They were arrested by Scotland Yard detectives who are seeking to find out if the scheme is wide spread.

Transparency Thailand Newsletter, June, 2015

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Thousands march against corruption-plagued Guatemala president

Agence France Presse

GUATEMALA CITY: Some 5,000 protesters marched Saturday night in downtown Guatemala City demanding the resignation of the country's corruption-plagued president, who lost a fight for immunity from prosecution earlier this week. On Tuesday; Guatemala's Constitutional Court rejected President Otto Perez's appeal for presidential immunity that also sought to legally erase a pre-trial investigation of graft allegations.

On Friday, a Congressional committee recommended fully lifting that immunity and allowing the investigation to proceed.

Protesters Saturday shouted "Out with Otto Perez" and "No more corruption" as they marched from the Supreme Court to the National Palace in the city's historic center.

Holding candles and flaming torches, many carried multi-colored banners with slogans such as: "With Otto Perez's government, corruption and repression increase."

"The president's resignation is a starting point and would breathe fresh air into the situation. It wouldn't resolve all the problems but would be a good way to move forward," Juan Alberto Fuentes, a former finance minister, told AFP during the march.The probe against Perez was requested by opposition party Winaq after a UN-backed investigation aimed at cleaning up the Guatemalan judicial system reported in April that senior customs officials had taken bribes from businessmen seeking to avoid paying taxes.The main suspect in the fraud, Juan Carlos Monzon, an aide to the vice president, is now a fugitive from the law. Guatemalan vice president Roxana Baldetti resigned from her post in May.In a separate scandal, the president of the central bank and the director of the social security system - both of whom are close to Perez - were arrested in May on charges of cheating the social security system out of approximately $15 million.

"We live with much injustice in Guatemala, the governments are complicit in corruption," Oscar Farfan, a 40-year-old protester who joined the march after walking 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the western indigenous town of Sumpango, told AFP.

US: Corruption on the Border: Dismantling Misconduct in the Rio Grande Valley

Carlos Gomez

But federal authorities say "the Valley" is steeped in corruption of every stripe: drug smuggling, vote stealing, courthouse bribery, under-the-table payoffs and health care fraud. Late last year, the feds launched the Rio Grande Valley Public Corruption Task Force to clean up South Texas.

It's housed in the FBI building, a three-story, bunker-like edifice in an office park across the street from public housing in McAllen, Texas."The public's perception is that the problem is inordinately grave and that it is worse here than other places," says FBI supervisory special agent Rock Stone. "We're being very vocal and very public about the fact that [public corruption] is wrong, it is immoral, and you're betraying the public's trust."

Rock Stone — that's his actual name — looks the part: 6 foot 3 inches, buff, career FBI agent and son of a cop. He says the task force has five times the number of investigators compared with years past, including Texas Rangers and agents of the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. Since his office opened its doors last November, they've gotten a steady stream of tips from the public about corrupt officials. "And we're going to pursue all of these people: school board, city, county, state, judicial, executive, and legislative. We're going to pursue them and we're going to lock them up," Stone says.

The Justice Department created its newest anti-corruption task force as a result of the continuing numbers of big and little fish getting nabbed down on the border. In 2013, more public officials were convicted of federal crimes in South Texas — 83 of them — than in any other region of the country. In the past two decades, no fewer than five sheriffs have been busted for corruption. And from 2000 to 2013, 13 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents went to prison."I was a cop who went drug dealer. That's what it is," says Jonathan Treviño, a former police narcotics squad leader who is serving 17 years in a federal penitentiary. Last year, his entire unit went to prison for seizing dope and selling it back to traffickers in Hidalgo County.

"No one forced us. No one held a gun to our heads. No one threatened the families, saying, 'You better participate in illegal activity.' No, we all decided to abuse our position," he said in an interview inside the prison.

Jonathan Treviño's father, Lupe, who was Hidalgo County's powerful and popular sheriff, is serving a five-year prison term for a separate conviction. He admitted taking $10,000 in illegal campaign contributions from a drug trafficker known as The Rooster, with ties to the Gulf Cartel.

Corruption also reaches into local elections. Five campaign workers, known aspolitiqueras, pleaded guilty to election fraud in Hidalgo County in a case involving votes bought with cash, beer and cocaine. In a separate case in neighboring Cameron County, nine politiqueras have been charged with manipulating mail-in ballots.

"A politiquera will get a person's vote by simply taking the ballot and filling it out themselves, or they will instruct the voter: 'Go ahead and mark your ballot right here.' And they don't even know who they are voting for," says Mary Helen Flores, founder of Citizens Against Voter Abuse, which is trying to reform Valley elections.

The Rio Grande Valley is known in law enforcement circles as a "high-temptation environment." Al Alvarez figures he has represented more indicted politicians than any other lawyer in the Valley. He sips a beer after work at a tavern in the Hidalgo County seat of Edinburg.

"Look," he says, "border cities are complex. The Valley is complex." It's certainly complex economically. In the tip of Texas, there's a Maserati and a Jaguar dealership. Yet a third of the population lives below the poverty line and receives food stamps.For years, this tropical river delta was known mainly for ruby red grapefruit, snowbirds and unauthorized immigrants. Today, the Rio Grande Valley is booming with new construction of bank branches, hospital complexes and luxury homes.

Where does all the money come from?"You know, there is an underground economy," Alvarez says, lowering his voice. "Drugs fuel 20 percent of the economy here in the Valley."His estimate that a fifth of the local economy floats in drug money may be high. There's a lot of legitimate money in circulation from agribusiness, hospitals, rich Mexicans who have relocated here, and the big state and federal border security payrolls.

But there's no denying that the local economy benefits from the existence of the Gulf Cartel headquartered in Matamoros, just across the river from Brownsville, even as the cartel's proximity also contributes to drug crimes, kidnappings and homicides in the region. The Valley is a major trans-shipment zone for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines destined for northern cities. And there's a brisk local market for cheap narcotics in the Valley.

"There is a lot of dirty money in the Rio Grande Valley," says Chad Richardson, emeritus sociologist at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg. He estimates that 5 to 10 percent of the Valley economy is rooted in illegal activity, primarily drugs. Richardson co-wrote a book about the underground economy of the South Texas borderlands that did not endear him to the chambers of commerce."And that money is available to corrupt public officials, including officers at the border, including sheriffs, including judges," he says.

On a soft, muggy night, some friends have gathered on the porch of a graceful old home in West Brownsville. They are talking about corruption in the Valley. Ruth Wagner, a retired college instructor, says corruption and contraband have been a feature of the border going back to Civil War times, when confederate cotton was smuggled through Mexican ports to avoid Union blockades.

"It was cotton, it's arms, it's people, it's drugs," she says. "It's something that's gone on forever because it's a part of a border culture." In the 27 years Wagner has been in the Valley, she has noticed the frequent images of public servants being led away in handcuffs."I think the FBI is down here more. I think the bigger guys are just getting caught. I think there's more of a focus on what's going on on the border right now," she says.Her friend, Carlos Gomez, is not so sure."They'll clean up for a while, and then it'll just fall back into order because that's just the way things are. Nobody's ever really done anything long term about this," says Gomez, a Valley native and a social worker.

"Corruption's always been an issue here in the Valley," he continues. "It has always been the compadre system: You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."Maybe things are starting to change in small ways."I remember, if you were engaged in some illegality, people wouldn't think twice about talking about it on their cellphones," he says. "Nowadays, people have taken notice that big brother is watching and you cannot presume that it's just like the good old days."

Cisneros says he's glad, because the Rio Grande Valley is at a crossroads and it's time to break bad habits. SpaceX is breaking ground on a commercial spaceport east of Brownsville, and the University of Texas is building a major new medical school in the Valley."We're here to plant the flag and show that it all ends now," says the FBI's Rock Stone. "I don't want to hear anymore, 'It's always been that way.' Well, it's not going to be that way anymore on my watch. I plan to be an instrument of change."

It's too early to say how much of a change the Rio Grande Valley Public Corruption Task Force has made. Stone says they're working a large volume of cases covertly. "You'll know we're coming after you," he adds, "when we show up with an arrest warrant."

Israel: Israeli regulator says has evidence in Siemens bribery case

The Israel Securities Authority said on Tuesday it had evidence that German industrial group Siemens paid about $20 million in bribes to officials at state-owned Israel Electric Corp (IEC) to win contracts from 2000 to 2005.After six years of investigating, the authority passed on its findings to the Tel Aviv District Attorney's office, which will decide whether to bring charges against a number of former Siemens and IEC executives. The alleged payments to IEC, intended to help Siemens win a gas turbine tender and other contracts, were part of a broader case in which Siemens handed out $1.4 billion in bribes to advance its business globally, the authority said.

Siemens has sought to recover damages from 11 former top managers and supervisory board members for failing to stop illegal practices and bribery that forced it to pay more than $1.3 billion to settle corruption probes in the United States and Germany in 2008.In this instance, the money is believed to have passed through a former CEO of Siemens in Israel and his brother-in-law by way of foreign bank accounts and on to at least six former IEC executives, the authority said.

"This is a complex case in which the suspects acted very cleverly and disguised the transfer route of the bribery money through bank accounts in various places around the world," it said in a statement. Siemens declined to comment on "ongoing proceedings" and said it is cooperating with the authorities. IEC said it has "zero tolerance" for corruption and welcomed progress in the Siemens case. It called on law enforcement authorities to complete the proceedings as quickly as possible (Reporting by Ari Robinovitch).

 

Transparency Thailand Newsletter, July 2015

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Looking back: Anti-corruption campaign best practices in the recent months

Switzerland: Switzerland returned to Nigeria $ 380 million, money linked to the former president General Sani Abacha. The money had been confiscated since 2006 under agreement between the Abacha family and the government of Nigeria, an agreement in which the government dropped its case against Gen. Abacha’s son Abba Abacha.  The money had been confiscated on the basis that Abacha family was a criminal organization.  Switzerland had previously returned $700 million to Nigeria, money Abacha family was holding in Swiss accounts. The return of the money will be supervised by World Bank. http://news.yahoo.com/

Italy: Pressure mounted on Infrastructure and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi to resign over corruption allegations in which the minister was accused of giving a Job to his son.  Even though Lupi had not been charged, and while there is no legal obligation for the minister to resign over such matters, political pressure mounted because 3 months earlier, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won elections on the promise to eradicate corruption.   http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/

USA: Oxfam America went to court seeking court order to have Securities Exchange Commission implement transparency law which was passed by Congress five years ago and was supposed to be implemented within 270 days. Oxfam said that the delay in implementation allowed secrecy under which international mining companies continued to bribe foreign governments and exploit mineral extraction. As a result, developing countries were losing about $ 1 trillion every year. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Chile:Chilean President Michelle Bachelet asked all her cabinet ministers to submit their resignations, and she would decide who was going to stay and who was going to leave in the 72 hours time.  Bachelet’s government was facing low approval in the country over a series of corruption scandals. http://latino.foxnews.com/

Malawi:Gen Henry Odillo and his former deputy, Lt Col Clement Kafuwa, were accused of arranging a contract to supply military equipment which was never delivered. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested and detained them as part of investigations into government corruption which was known as "cashgate". An investigation had found that the army paid $4.4m (£2.8m) for the equipment that was not supplied.  Malawi largely relies on foreign aid to finance its public expenditure.  Earlier in the year, donors suspended about &150 million over the cashgate scam. http://www.bbc.com 

Romania: Prosecutors in Romania indicted Prime Minister Ponta fortax evasion, money laundering, conflict of interest and making false statements while he was working as a lawyer in 2007 and 2008. Ponta was a lawyer and politician at the time he committed the crimes. His assets were also been frozen.   http://www.theguardian.com

South Korea: Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo offered to resign over a bribery scandal. Lee had been dogged by allegations of bribery after a local business tycoon, sung Wan-jong, killed himself amid a corruption investigation and left behind a list of high-ranking politicians he had bribed, including Lee. Lee was alleged to have accepted 30 million won (US$27,785) in cash in 2013. http://www.globalpost.com

Germany: Deutsche Bank was fined $2.5 billion over rate rigging.  The fine followed a seven year investigation in which the Bank, Germany’s largest lender was accused of obstructing regulators and rigging rates. The bank was also ordered to sack seven of its top employees. http://www.reuters.com/

Guatemala: About 5,000 protestors took to the streets in Guatemala asking president Otto Perez to resign over corruption. President Perez had had earlier gone to the constitutional court seeking immunity from prosecution, but then the court rejected the appeal.  The Congressional Committee had recommended that Presidential immunity against the President be lifted in order to allow for investigation http://www.dailystar.com.lb/

Tanzania: The court in Tanzania sentenced two Ex-ministers to jail for corruption. The two will serve a 3 year jail term.  The former ministers Basil Mramba (finance) and Daniel Yona (Energy and Minerals) were accused of abusing their authority in 2002 when they were in government for the ruling CCM party.  They among other things offered illegal tax exemptions and provided arbitrary in government contract awarding process.

http://www.bbc.com/news/

China: Former Nanjing city mayor, Ji Jianye was jailed for 15 years over corruption. Nanjing was found guilty of taking $2.37 million in bribes from 1999 to 2012. Authorities also confiscated property worth $420,000 from the former mayor. Nanjing was nicknamed “Bulldozer Ji” for relentless efforts he made to promote construction projects. This is one of the recent high profile case under president Xi Jinping's regime. http://www.abc.net.au/news/

Global: World Bank demanded that anonymous companies should not to be given contracts in projects funded by the Bank. A key player in development finance with a $42 billion portfolio, the move would put the World Bank in the forefront of G20 proposals to unmask beneficial owners of shell companies, which often are used to hide illicit funds from crime and corruption. http://www.reuters.com/article/

Israel: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to 8 months in jail for accepting more than $150,000 from a US tycoon while holding a ministerial office. Olmert was tried in 2012 and was acquitted, but his case came up later when his former assistant gave evidence showing that Olmert had bribed her not to testify against him in the 2012 trial.

https://news.vice.com/article/

Brazil: Prosecutors in Brazil sought US assistance in Petrobas scandal. The Petrobras case involves hundreds of millions in kickbacks paid by Brazil's biggest construction and engineering firms to former politically appointed Petrobras executives. In return, they won lucrative construction contracts, which often ballooned far beyond original budget estimates. http://abcnews.go.com/International/

Senegal: Son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, Karim Wade was jailed for corruption. Wade who also served as minister in the previous regime was sentenced to serve a six year jail term for enriching self with public money. Wade also ordered to pay a fine worth 210 million Euros ($230 million) while government was ordered to confiscate his property http://news.yahoo.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transparency Thailand Newsletter, May 2015

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Thailand: Training Young leaders to drive the war on corruption

Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (CPCS) conducts leadership development program for young leaders in Thailand.  The program focuses on promoting values such as integrity, transparency, fairness, service and responsibility. The philosophical underpinning of this training program is that good governance is centered not only on professional competence; but also on good values. Nurturing leaders should begin early in life. This means that schools play an important role in inculcating good values in the lives of the children. Training activities include among other things presentations on various leadership and good governance issues; storytelling and discussions; watching short video clips on related subjects; group discussions; and interaction. During group discussions, students sit in groups of four-five and discuss an assigned issue. After discussions, students write their conclusions and present their findings to the participants.  Students participating in the training program also get an opportunity to ask questions about the subject matter of their interest. This program is not only important because of its value content; but also because it gives young people an opportunity to engage in a constructive discourse about what is happening around them and what they can do about it. It also lays the right foundation for future responsible citizenship, besides nurturing a new generation of leaders who are value oriented. Spend an hour or so participating in the program and you will see why investing in this young generation is making a huge difference in the future of Thailand.

Malaysia: Governance, integrity and human rights-a transformation experience  

The Sub-Committee on Value Inculcation and Education, National Reform Council hosted Senator Dakul Paul low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in charge of Governance, Integrity and Human Rights. Senator Dakul gave a public lecture on Governance, Integrity &Anti-Corruption:Malaysia’s Experience. Senator Dakul shared Malaysia’s transformation experience in governance pursuant to the efforts to tackle corruption. Unique to Malaysia’s experience is the appointment of a non-political minister to spearhead transformation efforts in the fights against corruption; as well as integrating human rights, governance, and integrity strategies in the public service machinery aimed at improving governance. Over the past decade or so Malaysia has emerged one of the progressive nations in the ASEAN region, and has made tremendous efforts to fight corruption. Therefore, Malaysia’s experiment is an example of emerging innovations in the fight against corruption; one that scholars and practitioners in public and private sector can draw comparative lessons from; and examine emergent perspectives and insights which can be used to re-engineer the anti-corruption machinery.

Apart from the institutional architecture behind Malaysia’s transformation experiment; the leadership that facilitates this system demonstrates a learning experience.  Senator Dakul was appointed a non-political minister by Prime Minister Najib Razak. He joined government from the civil society, formerly the President of Transparency International Malaysia; besides having served in other key agencies of the Malaysian government for instance National Economic Action Council. As minister heading a department that was not there before; Senator Dakul pioneers among other things: working with different stakeholders to create relevant legislations; institutionalizing new laws, agencies and practices; and promoting the culture of integrity, governance and human rights. This pioneering leadership from political will, legislation, management of collaborations, and institutionalizing transformation constitutes what Malaysia is doing to promote governance, integrity, and human rights.

Malaysia’s growing public support for good governance and anti-corruption has been reflected in the way the people have voted in elections and continuously demanded a clean government. The public is increasingly discussing issues such as human rights, integrity, and corruption on social media. With the growing disapproval of bad practices in government; the country is at the conjuncture that is essential for a turning point in the fight against corruption.

One of the areas Malaysia has done well is integrating the Office of the Auditor General in anti-corruption machinery. Linking the Office of Auditor General and Public Complains bureau  to the Anti-Corruption Agency provides a good mechanism to monitor corruption, detect possible corruption risks, and gather more reliable data on corruption, especially in cases where funds and misused or misappropriated. It also makes it easy to facilitate inter-organizational collaboration in the fight against corruption, which is often a barrier in the fight against corruption.

Malaysia is also integrating anti-corruption mechanisms in its foreign policy in order to tackle a range of issues for instance transnational crimes, terrorism, and illegal trade. Taking into account joint action over matters such as environment, human trafficking, terrorism/security, drugs and money laundering is a good initiative because it can help address transnational corruption, which quite often goes on with limited action.

Angola: Letter calls on Angolan president to drop charges against investigative journalist

International signatories from the spheres of journalism, publishing, film, theatre and business have called on Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, to drop the charges against investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. Last Thursday, Marques was given a six-month suspended sentence following a trial for criminal defamation over his 2011 book on blood diamonds.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, which organised the letter, said: “Rafael’s trial was a sham. He was told charges would be dropped, only for him to be hit with new charges out of the blue, and he was not allowed to present his evidence or call witnesses”. She described him as “a courageous journalist” who had worked “with little support to expose corruption in Angola”. She said: “This absurd trial and verdict is meant to stop him from speaking out. We want to make sure that does not happen”.

Marques was awarded an Index on Censorship freedom of expression award in March for his work. Among the signatories to the letter are the jewellers Tiffany, tech entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, actors Janet Suzman, Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow, and Steve McQueen, director of the movie 12 Years a Slave. Journalists who signed the letter include former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans, current Times editor John Witherow, Ann Leslie, Lindsey Hilsum, Matthew Parris, Peter Oborne and Christina Lamb.

 

Guatemala: How a peaceful protest changed a violent country

Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in the world, where corruption is rife, but a new political movement which started online has managed to hold a series of protests without a single violent incident - and it's starting to make a huge impact on the country's leadership.

Protests in Guatemala often lead to violence - for example, an anti-mining blockade ended with dozens injured last summer, and a recent protest by farmersreportedly led to two deaths. But a new movement has managed to organise huge street protests aimed directly at some of the country's most powerful politicians - without a single violent incident.

It all started in mid-April, when a UN anti-corruption agency CICIG issued a report that implicated several high-profile politicians including the vice president, Roxana Baldetti. The lawmakers were linked with organised crime, and the revelations generated an unprecedented level of public outrage.

 

For one young woman frustrated with her leaders, enough was enough. She felt that she had to do something, and created an event on Facebook inviting all her friends to go to the Guatemala City centre to ask for Baldetti's resignation with the hashtag#RenunciaYa (Resign Now). Within days, over 10,000 people said they would attend.

Quickly the organiser realised - together with her most committed friends, now known as "the group of seven" - that for the action to succeed, she had to guarantee that no one would be harmed. The group set a series of rules making clear that no political party or group was behind that event, instructing protesters to follow the law, and urging people to bring water, food and sunblock but not cover their faces or wear party political colours. Their demands? The resignations of Baldetti and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina.

To scrupulously avoid any of the outward signs of a political party, members of the group prefer not to be named in the media, although their identities are visible on Facebook. "We don't want our names to be the centre of attention," the young woman who started it all told BBC Trending.

"Our strategy was to be honest, to maintain order and to keep everything within the law," says another member.

And that strategy led to almost instant success. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Guatemala City, and Baldetti resigned a few days later (Molina remains in office). In a matter of days, #RenunciaYa achieved something almost unheard of in Latin America - a peaceful movement organised online which achieved real results.

"Over the past five or six years many protests have been announced on social media, but nothing was organised directly on Facebook," says Guatemalan professor Marco Fonseca of York University in Canada. Experts also noted the surprising social makeup of the #RenunciaYa protests - whereas most protests in Guatemala are mounted by poor indigenous groups, the Renuncia activists are mostly middle-class people from the capital.

After the success of its first action, #RenunciaYa organised a second protest earlier this month to push again for Molina's resignation. This time other cities joined in, along with Guatemalan expat communities around the world. Since then, the UN anti-corruption committee has reported on other cases and more than 20 government officials have stepped down - and some have been arrested. #RenunciaYa has expanded its mission by calling for election reforms, including caps on campaign spending.

"After we saw that we could put that level of pressure on the government, the energy among the people multiplied and we felt empowered," says one "group of seven" member. "I guess we lit a spark and the people walked into the fire."

#RenunciaYa is keeping to its neutral political stance. They inform their supporters about other protests not organised by the group, and have committed to hold several open discussions on what their next steps should be. But they realise that their reformist agenda is gathering steam and with elections scheduled for September, they have an opportunity.

"People are getting organised," one member says. "What we have to do is to push for changes, because if we don't achieve them now, it is going to be difficult to achieve them any other time."

Blog by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Gabriela Torres, BBC Mundo

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