Speech at the Inaugural Conference of the ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance

Opening Speech By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the Inaugural Conference of the ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance Organised By The Penang Institue On 25.6.2012 At The E&O Hotel In George Town.

The ASEAN Coalition Of Clean Governance Seeks To Establish A System That Ensures Policies Are Made For Public Interest Through The Essential Mechanism That Establishes Institutions Which Builds Integrity In Leadership And Decision Making, Effective Internal Controls To Check And Punish Corruption As Well As Rewarding Whistle-Blowers.

On behalf of Penang Institute as well as the state government of Penang, allow me to start by wishing everyone a warm welcome both to Penang as well as to the inaugural conference of the ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance. Organising a conference in the midst of the month-long internationally renowned George Town Heritage Fest with the theme “What enables clean governance in democracies? ASEAN perspectives.”, is appropriate. After all George Town future as a UNESCO World Heritage City is inextricably intertwined with its survival linked to clean governance.

Clean governance is an issue that is very close to my heart. It is one of the reasons why I am here as the new Penang Chief Minister and one of the critical reforms in my administration which will decide whether I will still be around. Therefore, it is important to understand the correlation between development and clean governance.

History is rife with numerous examples throughout the world where weak governance, corruption and abuse of power have resulted in grinding poverty and the widening wealth inequality and income disparity. When a government is corrupt and inefficient, it is almost a certainty that its economic development will be unbalanced, inequitable and even unfair; with its socio-economic distribution skewed in favour of the cronies.

Clean governance can be broadly defined as a system that ensures policies are made for public interest through the essential mechanism that establishes institutions which builds integrity in leadership and decision making, an effective internal control to check and punish corruption as well as rewarding whistle-blowers. More specifically, we need to understand whether clean governance is relevant in the Asean context to engender social, political, economic and sustainable development.

It is for this reason that the Penang Institute has organised this conference today by bringing together leading proponents of clean governance from around the region with the aim of raising awareness of clean governance, discussing its enabling factors, setting up institutions, exchanging experience and more importantly establishing a culture of clean governance throughout ASEAN.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Extraordinary Times Should Not Forget The Importance Of A Return To Basic Principle, Of Doing Not Only The Right Thing But Also Doing It Right.
We are gathered here in extraordinary times. The global picture today is one that would have been unrecognisable just a decade ago. Today we see totalitarian governments and once-untouchable dictatorships being toppled one after another like dominos. Meanwhile, the Western economies are teetering on the edge of a meltdown, consumed by the weight of a crunching debt crisis that offers little room for optimism.

We are now living in extraordinary times. The effects of the global economic crisis are already obvious. ASEAN economies will not be spared and is expected to face weakening exports and a slowdown in FDI. As a result, economic management has become an increasingly challenging effort. In these extraordinary times, some say we require extraordinary ideas and extraordinary efforts. However we should not forget a return to the basic principle of not just doing the right thing but also doing it right.

ASEAN countries are bound together not only by geography and economy, but also by cultural and political values. In that sense, this great economic challenge that we are facing is a collective dilemma, and must therefore be met by collective leadership and collective action.

The need for clean public institutions
When I talk about leadership, I am not only talking about economic leadership. While that is important, I would like to suggest that there is also a need for ethical leadership. In other words, in such dire times, the only way to ensure protection for the people is to ensure that public institutions are strong, resilient and most importantly, clean.

The pillar of a society is its public institutions, which can be defined as the “rules of the game” which govern the interaction within and between governments, markets and society. Now, imagine if the rules of the game were not firm, or if the enforcement of the rules were lax. You would have irresponsible parties taking advantage of the system in order to enrich themselves and worse, to suppress the rights of others. This is how a corrupt and oppressive society is formed.

Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn summarised it well by saying, “The causes of financial crises and poverty are one and the same… If countries do not have good governance, if they do not confront the issue of corruption, if they do not have a complete legal system which protects human rights, property rights and contracts… their development is fundamentally flawed and will not last.”

In other words, the relationship between public institutions and the socio-economic development of a society is a symbiotic one. Good and clean governance will result in positive socio-economic development. Conversely, ineffective public institutions and weak governance will facilitate corruption, misguided allocation of resources, arbitrary justice and excessive government intervention. This will in turn reduce economic competitiveness, deter private sector investment and prejudice the distribution of wealth.

Freedom is empowerment
True development is not merely material but must also refer to the accessibility and availability of opportunity to a society. In other words, a truly developed society is one where its people are empowered with the freedom to fulfil their aspirations and capabilities.

In this, I am guided by the great economist for the poor and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who questions the fundamental assumption of development economics by arguing that development should not be measured primarily by wealth or income. According to Sen, poverty is not merely material but should also be seen as the “deprivation of basic capabilities”, which he defines as human freedoms.

In other words, development is a process of expanding the instrumental freedoms of individuals, which he encapsulates in five elemental forms:
1. Political freedoms,
2. Economic facilities,
3. Social opportunities,
4. Transparency guarantees,
5. Protective security.

Political freedoms encompass basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of information. It also significantly refers to public participation, checks and balances, the need for democratically-elected bodies at all levels as well as institutional respect for the rule of law.

Economic facilities are defined as the availability of access to economic resources, markets and female participation in the workforce, while social opportunities refer to education, health and other community facilities that allow individuals to gain better agency.

Transparency guarantees are meant to ensure a mechanism for seeking justice, the prevention of corruption, abuse of power and conflict of interest through public disclosure of information. Lastly, protective security talks about the need for the state to provide a social safety net to mitigate deprivation and poverty caused by epidemics, natural disasters and war.

These five forms of human freedoms as described by Sen are complementary and interrelated concepts that encompass processes as well as opportunities. They are both a fundamental aspect, as well as an enabler to achieving development. In other words, they are not only the means but also the ends.

More importantly, we must understand that Sen’s hypothesis is centred on the idea that freedom is empowerment. By providing the instruments of freedom to an individual, we will enhance the ability of individuals to fulfil their own potential and capabilities. It is this collective empowerment of individuals that will in turn lead our societies to true development.

Institutionalising freedom through clean governance
If we make development our objective, and we recognise that freedom is both the means and the ends to development, then it follows that we must build public institutions that embrace the universal of truth, accountability and transparency. After all, Sen’s parameters of human freedom entail the fulfilment of basic human rights, political equality, socio-economic justice, equitable access to opportunity, fairer distribution of wealth, integrity in leadership and commitment to the rule of law.

Thus, the only way to crystallise these parameters of freedom is to institutionalise them through the instruments of democracy. In other words, freedom can only be guaranteed and protected by clean, efficient, accountable and transparent public institutions.

I would hence like to suggest that public institutions should conform to a universal framework of good governance as described by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This framework contains five principles, which are:
1. Legitimacy and Voice
2. Direction
3. Performance
4. Accountability
5. Fairness

It is critical to recognise that public institutions must be democratically legitimate and participatory in nature. All men and women should have a voice in decision-making, either directly or indirectly. Such participation can only be built by honouring basic rights such as freedom of association and speech.

At the same time, governance must be guided by a strategic vision that is both forward-looking and cognisant of the complexities of its local history and society. Institutions and processes must also be robust and responsive in order to serve its stakeholders effectively. Very importantly, they must also be accountable and transparent. Decision-makers are ultimately responsible to the public, and must therefore ensure that the public have direct access to sufficient information.

Lastly, governance of public institutions must be fair and provide equality regardless of gender or skin colour. Above all, it is imperative that institutions are guided by the rule of law. However, we must also ensure that the law is responsive to freedom, justice and the tenets of human rights.

These five UNDP principles of good and clean governance must act as our guide if we wish to achieve development without compromising on freedom and democracy.

CAT governance: the Penang experience
Penang’s commitment towards clean governance is exemplified by CAT of competency, accountability and transparent administration. CAT has managed to arrest the graceful decline of Penang over the 18 years prior to 2008.

Based on CAT principles, we became the first state in Malaysia to introduce open competitive tenders for all public procurements and supplies. To the outside world, this is normal practice. However, it was ground-shattering in our country. We were immediately subject to a barrage of criticisms from various quarters who felt that their rice bowls were threatened.

By implementing open competitive tenders, we effectively eliminated the opportunity for corruption. Previously, contractors had to seek out “middlemen” for projects. Now, everything is done online through our e-Procurement system. Where previously the road to a government contract required political connections, it now only requires an internet connection.

In addition, we disclose fully the contents of government contracts signed with the private sector. We have also passed the Freedom of Information Enactment which allows disclosure of government contracts for public scrutiny. What’s more, we have also taken steps to engage the public on the state government’s proposed projects and plans.

To top it off, we have also become the first state in Malaysia to have the entire state executive council (EXCO) including the Chief Minister make a full public declaration of assets. And more recently, we have sought to empower more decentralised decision-making by passing the Local Government Elections Enactment, as part of our commitment towards participatory governance.

Our efforts are bearing fruit. In the last four years, we have turned the state’s finances around with surplus budgets for every single year since we took over. More importantly in an era of high debts, we have successfully reduced state government debt by 95 per cent, from RM630 million when we took over to just RM30 million today.

For all our efforts, we have garnered accolades not only from the Auditor-General’s annual reports, but we have also become the only state government in Malaysia to be praised by global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

However, praise alone does not mean anything if it is not translated into real achievements. For the first time in Penang’s history, we managed to become the number one investment location of the country in 2010. Over the last 2 years, Penang contributed towards nearly 30 per cent of Malaysia’s total foreign direct investment (FDI). For a state with only 6 per cent of the country’s population, we are certainly punching way above our weight.

George Town is now the most livable city in Malaysia in 2011. And to prove that it was no fluke, we followed up by repeating this feat this year. Last but not least, CAT governance is not only about clean governance but also about providing democratic space and fostering a culture of freedom. For example, we established the first Speaker’s Corner in Malaysia, where one can not only enjoy freedom of speech, but also freedom after speech. We allow people to speak their minds, even when it is often used to speak out against us.

More importantly, we also believe that it is incumbent upon the state to provide economic facilities and social opportunities for the people. As such, we embarked on a string of people-centric social welfare programmes that have seen Penang become the first state in Malaysia to eradicate hardcore poverty and on our way to wipe out poverty completely by 2015.

In addition, we also go to great lengths to ensure that the downtrodden are taken care of by giving cash aid to senior citizens, single mothers, the disabled, schoolchildren, newborn babies, subsidised dialysis treatments and even free bus services in the inner city and across our famous Penang bridge. This is all part of our commitment to ensure that our people enjoy freedom from want.

The Penang Declaration Of Clean Governance: laying future foundations
It is my hope that our conference today will mark the beginning of a strong movement for clean governance in ASEAN. It is especially important in current times to ensure clean governance of our public institutions and freedom of our people. To do this, we must be aware of the collective aspirations of our people. We must be responsive to their needs and engage them on their wants. Above all, freedom must be institutionalised.

And so, at the end of today’s proceedings, we hope to launch an important document, titled “The Penang Declaration”. It is a document that symbolises the commitment of the participants here today in acknowledging the principles of clean, accountable and transparent governance, and the universal values of truth, freedom and democracy. It also recognises the need for clean governance and the rule of law in order to attain socio-economic development and progress, as well as the necessity of building public institutions.

The Penang Declaration will reaffirm the five principles of good governance as described by the UNDP, as well as to encourage the implementation of public declaration of assets, open competitive tenders and the disclosure of government contracts.

Perhaps significantly, the document will also call for an important element of the anti-corruption process, which is the need for whistle-blower protection. In addition, our coalition will also bear no tolerance for corruption and abuse of power by insisting that powers of prosecution in corruption cases must be independently-wielded.

Finally, the Penang Declaration is a pledge to embrace cultural and social transformation in governance and integrity to engender inclusive, equitable and participatory social, political, economic and sustainable development for the people of ASEAN.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Penang Institute would like to thank everyone for attending the day’s proceedings, especially our distinguished speakers who are great leaders in their own countries. We have guests from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Laos. It is indeed a proud day for Penang and the Penang Institute.

I am certain that everyone here today shares our desire for improvement in governance, and I hope that the establishment of this ASEAN Coalition for Clean Governance will be the first step of a collective journey towards this ideal. As such, I thank you all once again for taking this important step together with us.

Together, we will face the scourge of corruption and abuse of power by advocating, encouraging and implementing clean governance. We do this because it is our responsibility to. In the words of Edmund Burke, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And remind ourselves that cleanliness is next to holiness!

With that, I wish all of you a happy conference ahead.

—–Mandarin: Main points translation —–

槟州首席部长林冠英于2012年6月25日在乔治市依恩奥酒店东盟廉政联盟研讨会上致开幕词,重点如下:

东盟廉政联盟要求建立一套体制,通过必要机制创建可以打造廉正领导及决策的机构,有效地进行内部监督、惩罚贪污、奖赏吹哨人,以保障政策符合公众利益。

在特别的时代不应忘记回归基本原则的重要性,那就是不只做对的事,也要用对的方法去做事。

我们汇集在这个特别的年代。全球经济危机越来越明显。东盟的经济也难以幸免,我们将面对出口及直接外来投资下滑。结果,经济管理越来越具挑战性。在这个特别的年代,有的人说我们需要特别的想法和努力。但是,我们时代不应忘记回归基本原则:不只做对的事,也要用对的方法去做事。

创建廉洁公共机构的重要性

一个社会的支柱是公共机构,也可以被定义为“游戏规则”:管理政府、市场和社会之间的互动。现在,想像如果游戏规则不明确,或者立法不严会怎样?你可能会遇到不负责任的人利用这个体制来自肥,更糟的是来压迫其它人。于是贪污及压迫性社会形成了。

公共机构及社会经济发展是共生的。良好及廉政能引导积极的社会经济发展。相反地,无效率的公共机构及施政会纵容贪污、资源错配、司法独断、政府的过多干预。结果,削弱经济竞争力、阻止公共领导投资及财富分配的偏见。

自由是赋予权利

真正的发展不是仅仅是物质的,社会上也必须充满容易接近的机会。换句话说,真正的发达社会是人民被赋予权利及自由,来完全本身的理想和潜能。

在穷人经济学家诺贝尔奖得主阿马蒂亚•森的著作《经济发展与自由》中,他写到,发展是扩大自由的过程,他确认了5个功能性自由,认为这些自由能让一个人活得更自由:

1. 政治自由

2. 经济便利

3. 社会机会

4. 透明保障

5. 安全保护

通过廉政将自由制度化

如果我们将发展做为我们的目标,我们也承认自由是发展的手段也是发展的目的,那么我们必须建立公共机构,拥抱真理、公信及透明。再说,阿马蒂亚•森对人类自由的标准涵盖基本人权、政治平等、社会经济平等、机会平等、财富公平分配、廉正领导及法制。

因而,唯一将这些标准具体化的方法是通过民主工具将它们制度化。换句话说,自由可以通过干净、有效率、负有责任及透明的公共机构获得保障。

我想要建议公共机构应该符合如联合国发展署所倡议的普世良好施政框架,包括五个原则:
1. 合法性及声音
2. 方向
3. 表现
4. 公信力
5. 公正

公共机构的本质必须是民主合法及参与。所有的男人、女人必须参与决策,不论是直接或间接的。唯有尊重结社自由及言论自由的社会才能拥有如此的参与度。

能干、公信及透明施政:槟州的经验

我们秉持能干、公信及透明原则,成为全马第一个推行公开招标进行政策采购及供应的州属。对外面的世界而言,这是正常的实践。但是,在我国还是破天荒。我们马上遭到那些感觉本身饭碗遭威胁的人士批评。

我们推行公开招标,有效地斩除了贪污的机会。之前, 承包商要通过中间人找工程。现在,全部程序都是通过e-采购上网进行。之前,人们要有政治联系才有政府工程,现在只需要网络联系。

此外,我们公开政府与私人界签署的合约。我们也通过资讯自由法,允许公众审查政府工程。我们也针对州政府的工程和计划进行公众咨询。

我们也成为全马第一个全州行政高官包括首长全面公布财产 的州属。最近,我们也寻求通过地方政府选举法令,赋权下放地方决策权,实现我们参与性施政的承诺。

过去四年,我们成功让州财政预算案年年有余。我们也将州政府的债务朋6亿3000万令吉减少95%至今天的3000万令吉。

我们的成绩不只获得总稽查司的赞扬,我们也成为全马唯一获国际透明组织赞扬的州政府。

我们在2010年所获外来投资全马居冠。在过去两年,槟城的外国直接投资占了全国30%。

乔治市也是2011年马来西亚最宜居城市。我们设立全马第一个演说者广场,人民不只享有言论自由,也享有言论后的自由。我们允许人民发言,即使他们也常常针对我们。

我们也相信州政府必须提供经济设备和社会机会给人民。因此,我们推行社会福利政策,我们已经成为全马第一个扫除赤贫的州属,目前也正朝向2015年扫除贫穷的目标。

我们也发放援助金给乐龄人士、单亲妈妈、残障人士、学生、新生婴儿、甚至免费巴士川行市内、跨越槟城大桥。

槟州廉洁施政宣言:为未来打下基石。

“槟州宣言”是一份象征全体与会者立志秉持廉洁、公信及透明施政,以及信守普世价值观真理、自由及民主的文件。它认同打造廉洁施政及法治在达到社会经济发展及进步的需要,以及创建公共机构的需要。

槟州宣言将再肯定联合国发展署的良好施政五大原则, 同时也鼓励公开财产、公开招标及政府合约。

这份文件也将促请反贪的重要程序 – 保障吹哨人。此外,这个联盟也绝不容忍贪污、滥权,并将坚持独立调查贪污案件。

最终,槟州宣言立志拥抱文化及社会施政改革及廉正,为东盟人民推动包涵性、合理公平及社会参与、政治、经济及永续发展。

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