Malaysia could champion CSR in Asean: minister

YB Senator Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he was prepared to commit Malaysia to be a test bed for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Datuk Paul Low was the Guest-of-Honour and was speaking at the Asean Responsible Business Forum in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on Wednesday.

The event is organised by the Asean CSR Network, Oxfam, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Asean Foundation.

Datuk Low shared various developments in CSR in Malaysia such as the Business Integrity Alliance, a pipeline project that will bring tools and best practices to the enterprise level.

The Anti-corruption coalition for sectors has also been established. The coalition is currently working in the construction industry and is projected to expand into the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries and possibly the supply chain.

Malaysia is also committed to implementing the ISO 37001: Anti-Bribery Management System Standard when it is finalised.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) is developing a national action plan on human rights, which requires the participation of companies to implement it and for them to ensure their suppliers are also compliant.

Ya nti Triwadiantini, Chair of Asean CSR Network said: “CSR, if implemented strategically and holistically, can help transform companies from profit-driven entities into agents of change for responsible and sustainable development.”

She expressed her hope that during the course of the forum, the delegates representing different stakeholders can discuss how we can create an enabling environment in Asean for businesses to behave responsibly and ethically, thereby helping ensure what the Asean CSR Network envision i.e. a responsible business community that helps make Asean a better place to live for all.

Empowering women and agricultural development was also another key theme in the welcome remarks by Oxfam.

Cherian Mathews, Regional Director, Oxfam Great Britain in Asia said: “Empowering women is key for fairness, sustainable development and food security. In fact, we can increase yields to reduce the number of hungry people by 100-150 million globally, if we can close the gender gap in agriculture”.

“Concrete steps by business, government and civil society is the only way to addressing such challenges. Oxfam wants to help bring together a broad range of voices, especially those of the poor and marginalised, in helping realise Asean Vision 2025.”

In their welcome remarks, the Ambassadors of Sweden, Canada, Japan and the UK expressed their commitment to supporting responsible businesses in Asean. They are also the funders of CSR and Responsible Business Conduct projects in the region.

The Asean Responsible Business Forum was attended by about 250 people from Asean. It is a r egional conference designed to provide a platform for key stakeholders from the public sector, private sector and civil society to connect and advance responsible business practice and partnerships aligned with the dynamics of the Asean Economic Community.

Beyond the enhanced role for the private sector, the Forum addresses sustainability and economic viability of the AEC through responsible business practice in agriculture, respect for human rights, assurance of decent workplace, and a path toward a corruption-free Asean business community.

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