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Setting the benchmark in corporate integrity

ASEAN governance framework established

The results of the first-ever ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard have been released, in an effort to establish greater international visibility

The review was conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and was part of a wider initiative to promote the region as an asset class. The OECD Principles of Corporate Governance were used as the main frame of reference in the scorecard’s design, which tested ASEAN plcs based upon the rights and roles they give shareholders, corporate transparency and board responsibility. An additional level reviewed each firm’s bonus offerings and penalties. The review was carried out by independent corporate governance consultants throughout the region.

In all, organisers at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum were confident the review would showcase the region’s improving corporate standards and encourage further developments.

“This is a significant milestone towards ASEAN integration, as the effort has moved beyond national boundaries. The ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard supersedes national scorecards,” said ADB Director Shigeko Hattori.

Some firm owners were wary of the review’s overall effectiveness. At a conference in Kuala Lumpur, experts argued that ASEAN integration and the implementation of new corporate governance standards could not be a blanket initiative.

“Corporate governance should not be pursued in itself, it must be relevant to what is on the ground, to the people and the companies,” said Datuk Nik Ramlah Mahmood, a Deputy CEO at Securities Commission Malaysia.

BlackRock’s Head of Corporate Governance for Asia, Clarence Yang, expressed concern that the scorecards failed to take into account the varying levels of growth within each individual ASEAN country. Yang suggested a more effective tool would be to establish ‘comply or explain’ mechanism that would allow plcs that can’t comply with standards to provide valid explanations as to why and go unpunished. ADB organisers remained confident the review did in fact take the diverse economic climates of each individual country into consideration.

 

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