This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The CSR D Digest
Exploring t Corporate Co the onscience
The CSR Digest offers quality content on R q corporat social respon te nsibility (CSR) and sustaina able and respon nsible investment (SRI). The CSR Digest ex xplores the corporat conscience worldwide, with a te w special e emphasis on Ma alaysia and the Asia Pacific Rim. For ou editorial ur content, clickhere. The Digest is also currently a free distribu y ution electronic c digest, s feel free to send your conte so ent or press releases to us at editor [at] csrdiges dot com . st
Shift In Globa Corpo al orate Dis sclosure e
leave a c comment »
A con nversat tion wit Khatt th tarWong g’s Tan C Chong Huat
at, g f ong and Mr Tan Chong Hua Managing Partner of KhattarWo the Hea of its Cor ad rporate and Securities Laws Depar d rtment, recently participate in the CS Global Su y ed SR ummit in Singapore. Chairma of corpo an orate govern nance comm mittees and director of sever public listed compa ral anies, Tan is equipped with the s expertis on corpo se orate govern nance and c compliance, and is , experienced in cor rporate matters within the region. Tan also has exten o nsive experience in ban nking and project p finance law in Sing gapore and t region. The CSR Di the igest caught up with the man who h been na e has amed a lead ding practitio oner in man reputable profession publicat ny e nal tions, includin Asia Paci Legal 50 AsiaLaw Leading La ng ific 00, w awyers. • • • • • • •
About th CSR Digest he Sign Up For CSR Digest Newsletter t
Subscribe to CSR Digest
Subscribe in a read der
Categorie es Communi ity CSR Diges Editorial st CSR Diges Interviews st Environment Marketpla ace Transpare ency Workplace e Tags accidents announcements CSR initiatives development employme erosion ethnic Fuel health an ent city nd safety hum man rights integrity logging Malaysia M Melamine migrant workersre eporting sustainab bilityToll unions
©2008 CS Digest. All righ reserved, exce SR hts ept where ind dicated. Copyright of Deviant t Art visuals remain with the authors/artists. e
Mr Tan C Chong Huat t
CSRD: Many practitioners feel laws are not useful to encourage social responsibility. What are your comments on this? TCH: It depends on how you define ‘encouraging’ social responsibility. If you mean having a set of laws in place that mandate a company must give x percent of its net profit to charity, then yes, the letter of the law would take away the spirit of corporate giving. However, in terms of best workplace practices, non-discriminatory employment, fair treatment of all employees - that is why we have successful, comprehensive and above all enforceable labor laws, to ensure that all corporations (in Singapore) maintain a standard of employee practices that are just and uphold basic tenets of human rights. In the grey area between doing something because the law demands it, and offering to give back to the community, I believe laws and guidelines are especially useful when it comes to matters of reporting and disclosure. While it should not serve to discourage corporate giving, enlightened corporate givers should also subscribe to the ideals of being able to stand up to scrutiny and employing best practices when dealing with CSR; and in fact, weaving these standards of disclosure and reporting into all aspects of their business. We also are seeing a significant corporate shift globally, particularly the situation in China. The Central Government has issued guidelines in Corporate Social Responsibility compliance for state-owned and foreign-invested enterprises - a big step towards setting out a framework for companies to draw reference from, which will hopefully serve to encourage broader, better and more informed CSR initiatives and business practices. CSRD: It is becoming clearer and clearer that integrity in financial reporting is vital for the market. Should these be laws or merely guidelines? TCH: At present, Singapore has an extensive set of Corporate Governance guidelines that include independent directors, board members of companies to be on an external audit committee, risk management, internal controls and whistle-blowing policy. By and large it has proven itself quite successful. The point of interest to note is that while these guidelines are ‘quasi-regulatory’, the breach of certain guidelines that amount to corporate fraud are certainly supported by the enforcement of very clear legislation. It is this latter set of laws that keep things on an even keel in corporate Singapore, and would certainly reinforce the CG guidelines and act as an effective deterrent. CSRD: Would a piece of law such as the USA’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 work in the Asian context (for example, with the recent Satyam scandal)? TCH: Many media sources are now likening the Satyam incident to “Asia’s Enron”. In order for a Sarbanese-Oxley Act equivalent to work in Asia, it requires the expressed and committed cooperation across Asia’s political machinery, a watchdog agency to uphold the standards set out in the (Asian) Act, and the agreement across the board to employ the section 802 equivalent of penalties. While it may be prudent for individual governments to set out clear rules in terms of corporate disclosure, an all-encompassing Act applicable across Asia may not be viable at this juncture. Ultimately, no system or frameworks, control or guards is entirely foolproof. The Satyam incident teaches us that determined management fraud resulting from a breach in ethical conduct will find wars around the tightest systems. CSRD: Should businesses cut back on their CSR initiatives during this current economic trend? TCH: As companies bite the bullet and cut operational costs, retrench workers and freeze spending, it may seem like natural progression to cut back on CSR initiatives or stop them altogether.
Howeve companies that have always ap er, pproached CSR in a stra C ategic mann and hav made ner ve it an int tegral part o their corp of porate psyc che will know that staying true and focused on their d o sustaina ability effor will be key towards reaping lon rts ng-term ben nefits. For e example, KhattarW Wong is pla anning a go o-ahead with various tra h aining and w welfare programs we have h planned for employees this co d oming year. Our beneficiaries will also look fo . orward to continu fund-raising efforts and volunt ued s teer engage ement. If an nything, we are expand ding the scope o our CSR e of efforts furth her, building on the suc g ccess of the previous y e year to incorporate a more comprehen nsive approa to envir ach ronmental awareness - to add to o current focus a our on health and educ cation. I bel lieve that do oing our bit for the larger commu t unity in difficult times w not only help our ex will xternal stak keholders, but will serv to encourage our b ve employees and pro omote staff morale. CSRD: What is the trend in th PRC in ter he rms of CSR? Do the bus ? sinesses inv volved in the melami poisonin understa ine ng and the ram mifications of what they did? o y TCH: In 2007, Chin n na’s Preside exhorted China’s le ent eaders to up phold ’scien ntific outloo on ok social d development’ - an appr roach that in ncludes enc couraging b businesses t emphasiz to ze sustaina able develo opment, put people firs and look beyond short-term profits. t st, Clearly, the message is for im mplementatio of better workplace practices, stricter disc on r e closure standar and a view towards protective the value of China’s fledgling bra rds s o ands. Gover rnment bodies have follow to echo the Preside wed ent’s message, includin the Shenzen and Shanghai ng Stock Ex xchange co oming up wi a list of CSR Guidelines for listed companies. Incentiv and ith ves potentia penalties are applied to complia and non al s d ant n-compliant companies accordingly. t s Given th slew of s he scandals tha have hit t Chinese manufactu at the e uring and ex xport marke in et recent y years and th impact it has create in terms of foreign p he t ed perception o Chinese of product I believe the trend in the years to come will be for Ch ts, hinese comp panies to st tep forth an be accou nd unted as par ragons of g good CSR pr ractices. CSRD: D you see the field of CSR growin as a spec Do f ng cialist area in the legal profession Why? n? TCH: At this junctu t ure, CSR is s still a soft a approach wi no legislative impac or enforc ith ct ceability. Howeve the pract er, tice areas of corporate governance and regulatory comp pliance look set to k grow as more and more comp s panies recog gnize the im mportance o good disc of closure stan ndard and pra actices. In anticipation of the growing needs for s such service KhattarW es, Wong has se up a Corporate et Governa ance and Re egulatory Compliance Practice Gro oup that deals with adv vising board (of ds director on matte related t due compliance with corporate governanc matters, Listing rs) ers to h e ce L Manual and Compa anies Act co ompliance r requirement requirem ts, ments regarding circula to ars shareho olders and o other shareholder matt ters. ◊
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.