Bangkok (Thailand), 16 June 2023 – Southeast Asia gathers some of the world's fastest-growing economies, yet, corruption continues to plague governments and public services, slowing down the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Corruption and related issues, such as organized crime and money laundering, are becoming more complex with evolving technologies and increased financial ties among the countries in the region and beyond. In order to respond to these issues, innovative anti-corruption approaches involving all stakeholders need to be developed and put into practice.
Recognizing the importance of adapting innovations to deal with corruption problems, UNODC cooperated with partners including the Knowledge Hub for Regional Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Collaboration (KRAC) of Chulalongkorn University and the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand (NACC), with support from National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), to organize an international conference in Thailand which provided a forum for presenting new approaches to establish good corporate governance in Southeast Asia.
The conference gathered researchers, civil society organizations, private sector reformers, and public policymakers from several countries in the region and provided opportunities to share innovative ideas across borders to tackle corruption.
During the discussion, samples of showcases were presented to exchange best practices and inspire the participants. In using open data to improve governance and integrity, the Deputy Governor of Bangkok shared success stories from using five key drivers to enhance citizen engagement to tackle corruption as well as promote good governance. Those key drivers included:
(i) Open data allowing all citizens to access Bangkok Metropolitan Area (BMA)'s budget usage data and poll users on what additional data they need;
(ii) Open service where a platform called “Traffy Foudue” was created and opened to receive complaints directly from citizens;
(iii) Open contract driving regarding open contracts and collaboration with CoST and Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) to develop standards and disclose procurement contracts;
(iv) Open innovation supporting the creation of innovations to develop Bangkok in various dimensions. For example, a project called the “Vulcan Coalition” was introduced, through which BMA promotes the creation of home-based jobs for people with disabilities through the use of technology; and
(v) Open policy where BMA developed policy disclosure-related platforms which allows the public to be able to check the progress of Bangkok's policies.
Additionally, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) closely monitor and study ongoing corruption issues in their country to find measures and develop tools to solve new corruption problems and address dynamic problems. ICW has built a platform called “Opentender.net,” which is an open public data platform that promotes operational cooperation between government agencies and the public. This platform discloses government information in public procurement by using the tender database and compares historical data in the public procurement process each year.
ICW successfully used this platform to detect budget anomalies in building mosques through budget and procurement datasets. They found that construction was delayed but the budget was getting higher and increasing abnormally every year. In addition, the company in charge of the project was unable to complete the construction of the mosque in time, and further anomalies were identified. ICW highlighted that one of the problems with information disclosure in Indonesia is that the State only discloses information to the public after the completion of the project. This makes it impossible to detect the irregularities of projects in progress, making it difficult to prevent corruption from the start of the process.
Mr. Khairil Yusof, Program Consultant from “Sinar Project” (Malaysia), addressed the importance of disclosure as an anti-corruption mechanism. One of the key success factors in using open data to combat corruption is the establishment of disclosure standards, such as the CoST Infrastructure Data Standard, which helps organize open data and can indicate the completeness of open data. In addition, Mr. Yusof also stressed the importance of cooperation in acquiring anti-corruption data, emphasizing that, apart from using technology to establish information disclosure standards, it is necessary to build on that information in anti-corruption activities. This requires the cooperation of people from all sectors who can contribute their own professional expertise. For example:
(i) The development of open data standards that require specific expertise to help, such as open data of environmental impact assessment (EIA);
(ii) Data analysis, such as using data analysis to identify data connections that will help support the use of open data more conveniently; and
(iii) Development of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to further the anti-corruption work.
This conference successfully showcased innovative approaches to good governance that are being spearheaded by organizations and governments throughout Southeast Asia. Highlighting these initiatives throughout the conference helped to demonstrate that, despite the region’s ongoing struggles with entrenched corruption, there are promising initiatives that suggest the possibility of meaningful progress.
This activity was funded by the United States’ Department of State International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT).
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