Opening Remarks at SC/UNDP Corporate Social Responsibility Seminar
27 July 2006 |   By : Yang Berbahagia Dato' Zarinah Anwar, Chairman, Securities Commission
"Making a Difference through Corporate Social Responsibility: Meeting the Challenges"

Opening Remarks

Yang Berbahagia Dato' Zarinah Anwar
Chairman, Securities Commission

At the
SC/UNDP Corporate Social Responsibility Seminar
27 July 2006
Conference Hall, Securities Commission

Yang Berhormat Dato Sri Mohd Effendi Norwawi, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department

Dr Richard Leete, UNDP Resident Representative for Malaysia , Singapore and Brunei

Excellencies, Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Selamat pagi dan salam sejahtera

On behalf of the Securities Commission (SC) let me echo Richard Leete in welcoming The Honourable Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Yang Berhormat Dato Sri Mohd Effendi Norwawi to today's seminar. Yang Berhormat Dato Sri, we are honoured by your presence at this morning's event as it a clear reflection of the Government's support of the CSR agenda.

I would also like to welcome all panellists and participants to this seminar. Your presence here today is testimony of your organisations' commitment and support of the CSR initiatives that we are pursuing.

The SC is privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with the UNDP, in the organisation of this Seminar. You have heard from Dr Richard Leete, the numerous partnerships that are currently being pursued by UNDP Malaysia. I hope that after this Seminar, more Malaysian corporations will come forward and support the efforts of UNDP Malaysia in this regard.

The UN has paved the way for many CSR related efforts in recent years including the Global Reporting Initiative and the Global Compact. The latter, which promotes corporate responsibility by advancing universal values in business operations, is one of the world's largest and most widely embraced voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. I must confess that it is rather disheartening that the number of Malaysian companies that are members of the Global Compact has not changed since 2003. That number is TWO. (Dupont and Ford Malaysia Sdn Bhd). I do hope Malaysian companies will see the value in becoming members of the Global Compact and put in more effort to achieve membership.

For our part, the SC has continuously taken a proactive role in driving the promotion of CSR in the Malaysian business environment. We see CSR as an extension of our continuous efforts in fostering a strong corporate governance culture. Ultimately, both corporate governance and corporate social responsibility are about ensuring the sustainability of business through good business practices. Both influence corporate strategy and both draw on the same elements; namely accountability, honesty, transparency and sustainability. While corporate governance focuses primarily on the interest of the company's shareholders, CSR focuses on the interest of the company's wider stakeholders.

It is my view that the symbiotic relationship between corporate governance and CSR creates a corporate conscience to which the company steers its objectives and set its priorities. As such, the leaders of PLCs amongst you, must have absolute clarity, conviction and commitment in driving your organisation's CSR strategy, claiming ownership over such policies and integrating it with your business strategies, and organisational culture and behaviour.

The SC has endeavoured to create awareness of good CSR practices through education and awareness programmes like this seminar today. We have initiated the CSR Steering Committee, forum to promote best practices in CSR, because we see promotion of CSR as a shared and continuous obligation, but we are also keen to see industry driving this effort. We believe that CSR would be sustainable in the long run and would best add value if it is undertaken at the companies' initiative through encouragement and guidance on best practices with only selective regulation eg in the area of environmental protection, health and safety.

It is therefore most encouraging to note that GLCs are leading the way with their CSR agenda, now in the form of the soon to be released Silver Book. The Silver Book serves as a guide for GLCs on how they can contribute to society, clarify the extent of their contributions and at the same time continue to create value for their stakeholders.

One initiative which the SC keenly supports is the establishment of a CSR Institute in Malaysia to encourage better CSR practices in the business environment. This initiative was first mooted in the inaugural CSR steering committee meeting two years ago. Its objective was to set up a platform for the promotion of socially responsible business practices in Malaysia so that Malaysian companies are better able to serve developed markets competitively. We would really like to see this initiative evolve much faster. Perhaps after the publication of the Silver Book, the GLCs will lead the way by driving efforts in this direction.

Another initiative which I am very keen to see take-off soon is the creation of a CSR Index. In my opinion this is an important development as there is now need to benchmark a standard to which companies can aspire to achieve. Furthermore, it would also provide investors seeking socially responsible investments with a choice and assist them in informed decision making. I believe this initiative will also bring us closer to the level of our international peers.

Ladies and gentlemen, good CSR practices promote business sustainability by enabling companies to attract better quality investors and to better meet the challenges posed by increased competition for markets and capital. Over and above that, the enhanced reputation, customer loyalty and talent retention generated by good CSR practices will contribute towards enhancing the competitiveness of Malaysian PLCS. It is for these reasons that the CSR agenda in Malaysia need to be fast-tracked.

In a nutshell - CSR makes good business sense.

On that note, may I on behalf of the organisers extend our thanks and appreciation to Yang Berhormat Dato Sri Mohd Effendi Norwawi for his support and encouragement for this important seminar. I join UNDP and the rest of the audience in looking forward to hearing Dato Sri's Keynote Address.

Thank you.
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