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A new initiative, the ASEAN Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Network, will be set up to push the growth of CSR, a concept fast taking hold in the international business world, in this region.
Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Zainul Abideen Rashid, will officiate at the incorporation of the ASEAN CSR Network on 11 January 2011.
The Network will have five founding members, and the ASEAN Foundation:
- Indonesia - Indonesia Business Links
- Malaysia - International Chamber of Commerce
- Philippines - League of Corporate Foundations
- Singapore - Singapore Compact for CSR
- Thailand - the CSR Club of the Thai Listed Companies Association
- ASEAN Foundation
The Network expects Brunei and Vietnam to become members too. The Network was registered on 8 December 2010 as a company limited by guarantee in Singapore.
The Network's Secretariat will be based in Singapore. Singapore Compact for CSR, a tripartite body charged with promoting CSR in Singapore, will be its initial host and implement various activities to implement the action plan.
Under the CSR agenda, the Executive Director of Singapore Compact for CSR, Mr Thomas Thomas, will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Network and oversee the day-to-day co-ordination of the project, including working with partners and consultants.
Singapore Compact was set up by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in 2005 and has been stepping up its efforts to encourage businesses to adopt CSR.
CSR is a company's commitment to responsible business practices to support sustainable development. CSR is about being accountable and responsible, building and maintaining relationships of mutual respect and trust not only with shareholders but with all stakeholders: customers, employees and their families and the communities in which they operate.
The regional Network aims to play a key role in the advancement of the practice of CSR in the region by providing a platform for collaboration and co-operation, conducting research, organising events and serving as the hub for information and knowledge on CSR.
The ASEAN CSR Network will be a venue for discussing and addressing regional issues and concerns. Apart from sharing information and experiences, part of the plan will also be to raise awareness of CSR.
It will provide opportunities for networking and exchange, and advocate international norms of CSR behaviour in this region. It will also be an advocate and capacity builder for acceptance of international norms of CSR behaviour.
In addition, the Network will serve as a centralised depository of all the information gathered on CSR and provide easy access to members and partners in the region. In due course, the objective is to promote CSR and have all the ASEAN countries, companies and organisations to join and work with the Network.
The first task to be undertaken will be a survey of the state of CSR in ASEAN. Based on the findings, the network will work out a programme of activities to promote the concept in the various member countries.
At a later stage, the grouping will organise workshops and seminars on CSR in member countries.
Said Mr Seah Kian Peng, Vice President of Singapore Compact for CSR: "The challenge for CSR is great. In the past few years the awareness of CSR has grown, not only among businesses but among the general public as well. Encouragingly, more organisations are implementing CSR and recognising its importance to business strategy.
"However, many still carry the misconception that corporate social responsibility is simply philanthropy and charity: giving away time and money. These are, certainly, very important, and do a lot of good in our society in helping the less fortunate members in our community. However, true CSR carries similar values and ethics into our work. What we need to persuade people to understand is that we can do good through making money, or while making profits. We need not be rich by making others poor. By prospering together we will build better, stable and sustainable communities. That is the ASEAN Community we aspire to be, and CSR will play a major role."
Said Mr Edgardo Amistad, Chairman, ASEAN CSR Network; Chairman of League of Corporate Foundations, Philippines: "The explicit inclusion of CSR as part of the ASEAN blueprint for sustainable socio-economic development recognises that good business practices are key not only to commercial, but to social and cultural success as well. Co-operation between countries and regions, and between different sectors of each society, is necessary to achieve this goal.
"It was to fill the gap in this area that the Network was formed. Since November 2008 we held dialogues with corporate foundations, CSR practitioners and other stakeholders, and we have realised that there is a serious need for greater co-operation between the networks and organisations in our countries."
Said Mr Thomas Thomas, Executive Director of Singapore Compact for CSR, and CEO of ASEAN CSR Network: "I am very much looking forward to working with the other CSR organisations, business sector representatives and other CSR practitioners, and our partner organisations of all the member countries. The collective work between these different countries and organisations working together will eventually benefit the people of ASEAN.
We have to aim to spread the message that responsible business is not just the delivery of services and goods. It all goes beyond that, in terms of doing good for the community and society in general."
The network will be administered by a Board of Trustees comprising one representative from each member country, and from the ASEAN Foundation:
- Chairman: Mr Edgardo Amistad (Chairman, League of Corporate Foundations, Philippines)
- Deputy Chairman: Mr. Mohd. Shah bin Hashim (International Chambers of Commerce - Malaysia)
- Ms Yanti Triwadiantini (Executive Director, Indonesia Business Links)
- Dr Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr (Executive Director, ASEAN Foundation)
- Mr Frederick Ho (Hon. Secretary, Singapore Compact for CSR)
- Mr Wattana Opanon-amata (President, CSR Club of the Listed Companies Association of Thailand)
The ASEAN CSR Network logo will also be unveiled at the ceremony, to be held at the Amara Hotel.Ambassadors of all the ASEAN countries have been invited for the occasion, as well as three major Asian countries - China, Korea and Japan. Also invited are ASEAN dialogue partners: the European Union (EU), the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.