On Thursday 15 October 2015 I had the privilege of attending “Thailand’s 6th National Conference on Collective Action against Corruption”. This conference was organized by the Thai CAC, formally known as “Thailand’s Private Sector Collective Action against Corruption”.
The Thai CAC was co-founded by eight of Thailand’s leading private sector organizations: the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, the Thai Listed Companies Association, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations, the Thai Bankers’ Association, the Tourism Council of Thailand, and the Thai Institute of Directors (Thai IOD). The Thai IOD serves as the secretariat of the Thai CAC and takes a leading role in driving the program.
The CAC conference included three panel discussions which covered the topics of “Overcoming Anti-Corruption Challenges: International Experiences”, “Anti-Corruption Progress: How to Keep the Momentum Rolling”, and “Leveraging the Power of Collective Action”, and also included a powerful lunchtime presentation “Addressing Corruption Together – Strategy for Thailand.”
The CAC conference was concluded with a powerful and moving Closing Remarks presentation by His Excellency General Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council. General Prem stated that corruption is the most severe problem plaguing Thailand, and a most shameful matter for the country. He also stated that taking part in corrupt schemes is equivalent to robbing the country. “Those involved are thieves.”
Currently the Thai CAC has 521″Signatory Companies” which have signed a “Declaration of Intent”, and 122 Certified Companies who have implemented and audited anti-corruption programs.
I strongly encourage both Thai-owned and Foreign-owned companies operating in Thailand to join the Thai CAC and complete the certification process. Fighting corruption is a difficult task, and very few companies successfully escape the cruel sting of corrupt acts. Yes, your company may successfully avoid corrupt acts such as facilitation payments to government officials. However, your company is still subject to internal corruption, such as kickbacks to purchasing officers, kickbacks to maintenance personnel, fraudulent invoices, etc.
A well designed, communicated, and enforced anti-corruption program acts as a vaccination to inoculate a company against infection by corrupt influences. Sounds dramatic … but I firmly believe it.
The managers of foreign-owned companies often tell me that they already have compliance programs in place for FCPA (the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and UKBA (the UK Bribery Act). I don’t disagree that compliance with FCPA and UKBA is important. However, I also remind these companies that they are operating in Thailand, which has a very strong cultural identity. Thailand is proud to have never been colonized, and correctly believes that its culture is unique and valuable. Adopting and complying with a Thailand based anti-corruption initiative is a far more powerful motivating force than asserting compliance with a foreign initiative, which has the effect of imposing foreign laws upon Thai nationals and organizations.
Corruption is a difficult problem to solve. No single tool will be sufficient to fix this problem; a full toolbox of powerful tools, and the skill and experience to use them, will be required to eliminate corruption. Join the Thai CAC, become a signatory, and diligently work towards CAC certification. Your company, as well as our Thai community, will benefit greatly from this anti-corruption initiative.