Call for greater corporate governance in Asia
June 10, 2013

PETALING JAYA: The international community is calling for greater corporate governance in Asia, with further improvement in the areas of enforcement and board nominations.

Flying in from France to attend the Asian Roundtable on Corporate Governance hosted by the Securities Commission (ARCG), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) senior policy analyst Fianna Jurdant said if a country had a healthy governance system, it would boost market development, and attract more investments. [EXPAND Read more]

“From a global perspective, we see a shift of wealth towards emerging markets and Asia, what happens here is very important. And corporate governance will be playing a critical role, where on one hand supporting market growth, and also confidence in the public enforcement system,” she said.

Members of the ARCG, which comprise of senior government officials, regulators, and practitioners, had met last week to endorse a report on policies for board nomination.

The report would be used as a guide for countries in Asia to further enhance transparency in the board nomination process, via participation by all shareholders and empowering the nomination committee.

Jurdant said there were several key issues discussed which included aspects on enforcement, which still had more room for improvement and also the process of board nomination and election.

“There are still some issues with the adequacy of laws, where it is still not enough just to have strict well defined laws, but it also needs to have the ability to be enforced. The authorities need to have the necessary tools to enforce these laws,” she said.

She said transactions were turning global with investors and markets connected internationally.

“Enforcement is not only national but a regional and global issue. That is why we are looking at ways to support the authorities to have an active, visible and effective enforcement taskforce,” she said.

While on the matter of board nomination, she said the ARCG was studying ways to enhance transparency in the board nomination process.

“Normally, controlling owners still decide who would be on the board. What we are trying to instill is to have a an equitable treatment for all shareholders, where minority shareholders have a say in the process of board nomination,” she said.

She said in some cases, companies were still taking a box-ticking approach, looking at the minimum requirement but not whether the appointees were qualified or capable.

“We are also looking at the role of institutional investors and studying ways to see how they can play a role in promoting corporate governance further,” she said.

On Malaysia, she said the Securities Commission had taken a holistic approach by establishing a five-year blueprint, which showed the willingness to plan ahead for a longer term.

“Regulators normally have a knee jerk reaction, but it was interesting to see Malaysia taking a longer-term view.

“But, more effort should be focused on enforcement,” she said. [/EXPAND]