Transparency Thailand Newsletter, May 2015


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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