Kuala Lumpur, 29 October 2015—From the 27th to the 29th of October, the ASEAN Responsible Business Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With the theme “Promoting responsible business practice in the ASEAN Economic Community,” the regional platform brought together government officials, civil society and businesses. The multi-stakeholder forum discussed pressing issues and shared best practices of responsible business or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
During the main forum held on the 28th of October, Guest of Honor YB Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister for Governance and Integrity, Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, gave an inspiring address. He mentioned the many issues governments across the region are grappling with and said, “We must ask ourselves at times like this, how do we deal with those who are vulnerable, with those who are not able to survive… those who we know are exploited?”
“We must go beyond rhetoric,” said Senator Datuk Paul Low. He expressed that business policies should be translated into reality at the ground level and result to change.
He emphasized the role of the government in ensuring that assistance is given to those who need it most. He highlighted the need for social justice, human rights, and freedom of expression. Datuk Paul Low said, “We need a very inclusive society.” He noted that there is a need for political transformation in terms of democracy, being open to healthy debate, and accepting criticism.
Lastly, Datuk Paul Low stated, “We need to deal with the issue of corruption and governance. We would like to create an integrity movement.” He believes that issues like corruption cannot be resolved unless the various sectors of society are committed to the common goal. “We would like to put certain drivers to push this forward,” he continued. “We will come out with legislation that will force companies to look at their systems.”
The forum also included high-level panels that discussed building a more competitive and sustainable ASEAN Economic Community Post-2015 through responsible business, new business models for inclusive and sustainable agriculture in ASEAN, and creating a culture of integrity in ASEAN businesses.
The event was organised by the ASEAN CSR Network, Oxfam, ASEAN Foundation, and Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.