A History of Corruption by Transparency International Chairman José Ugaz in Malaysia

A History of Corruption by Transparency International Chairman José Ugaz in Malaysia

Speech by José Ugaz, 2 September 2015 – 16th IACC, Putrajaya, Malaysia

Minister Paul Low, Deputy Chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission,

Mr. Akere Muna, head of the IACC council,

Mr. Akhbar Satar, president of TI Malaysia:

Let me first thank the IACC for bringing so many people together as part of our great global movement to tackle corruption.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for hosting the conference with the IACC.

And the Malaysian people for welcoming us to their beautiful country at this momentous time.

This week Malaysia celebrated Merdeka – its independence from colonial rule and freedom from oppression.

Independence and freedom

The building blocks of a fair and just society.

All countries face challenges, especially new countries, and I looked back at some of the statements from the founding father of the nation, Abdul Rahman, made at the time of independence in 1957.

There were two words that he used that stood out for me – honesty and integrity.

That is what brings us together in the fight against corruption.

Honesty and integrity.

We have seen what this means to people all over the world in recent weeks.

In Brazil.

In Honduras.

In Guatemala.

In Iraq.

In Malaysia.

Hundreds of thousands of people are sending a message to the corrupt. Your days of impunity are numbered.

That is a reason why we are here. But we have a struggle in front of us.


In too many countries the basic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being eroded or taken away.

It is hard to fight corruption without those rights.

Most insidious of all is political corruption. The twisting and distorting of the law by governments plagued by cronyism and captured by special interests.

In Kuwait our chapter was taken over by a government appointed board. In Tunisia our activists were threatened with legal action for criticising laws that would set the corrupt free. In Russia civil society organisations are being placed on a register of Foreign Agents – the first moves that could attempt to close down the work of anti-corruption fighters in that country.

Those with integrity removed.

Secret deals.

Cronies appointed.

Violations of human rights

This feeds what we call grand corruption because it creates a climate where corruption flourishes and impunity protects the powerful.

We are in a global world and illicit money can be moved in a single keystroke. The oligarchs of corruption can also move freely without legal consequences, flaunting their five-star lifestyle, buying their properties in London, the south of France and Kenya.

That is what we mean by impunity.

Let me give you one example. The former President of Ukraine – Viktor Yanukovych. When he finally fled, the people of Ukraine discovered that their money had been spent on a mansion with a zoo and a full size Spanish galleon ship. What was revealed was a chain of shell companies in Vienna, London and Lichtenstein that concealed the vast wealth he was stealing from the country. Ukraine’s Chief Prosecutor has said that there is evidence that at least $350m has been stolen…it could be much more.

He and too many corrupt politicians and business people use shell companies to conceal their money. That is why we will talk at length at this conference about the need for public registers of beneficial ownership.

It is collective action that can challenge impunity.

In France, after a campaign our chapter, 300m euros of assets stolen by the former President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea were frozen by the courts.

Now in Guatemala, after a mass campaign, the former Vice-President is in jail awaiting trial accused of conspiracy and bribery and yesterday the immunity from prosecution of the President was removed and a judicial order was released so he cannot leave the country.

And in Brazil, where one million people took to the streets for the Petrobas scandal has seen five politicians arrested and criminal cases brought against 13 companies, including the head of the world’s largest construction company. And our movement is now working across 7 South American countries to uncover how far the Petrobas scandal has spread, while politicians and heads of these companies have been arrested.

The web of corruption shows very clearly that this is not confined to developing countries. Many companies in Europe and the United States are being investigated for bribery.

Fighting against corruption takes courage.

We should pause at this moment and remember those who paid a terrible price for speaking out against corruption.

Danilo Lopez and Frederico Salazar, two courageous journalists were murdered in broad daylight in Guatemala. For more than a decade Lopez had exposed corruption and the misuse of public funds by corrupt politicians. And a month and a half ago an anti-corruption activist was killed in Mexico.

This year 24 journalists around the world who have exposed corruption and human rights abuses have been killed. 24.

In Azerbaijan, as we meet, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced yesterday to  seven and half years for “economic crimes.” These are typical of the bogus charges brought by goverments to shut down those who speak out against corruption.

Khadija exposed how the government awarded the rights to a lucrative gold field to the President’s family. In a statement she just said: “I might be in prison, but the work will continue.”

That is the work that everyone in this conference is dedicated to take forward.

Press freedom and freedom of expression are the pillars of democratic societies and journalists must be able to work without fear. We stand with them.

Our movement has shown that it can fight back.

In Cameroon, Paul Kingue was freed from prison after a sustained campaign by local and international groups.

His crime?

Exposing a French-owned banana producer for tax fraud.

In Angola the most serious charges against Rafael Marques de Morais were dropped after a sustained international campaign.

His crime? A book  exposing corruption and torture in Angola. For that he could have faced nine years in prison. Just for writing a book.

There are many more activists around the world and many are here present in this conference. Let me pay tribute to you, for your courage, for your honesty, for your integrity.

Change can and does happen.

Why are we so passionate about the change we want to see?

We share many values. We want to see an end to poverty, we want all children to be able to go to school. We want people to have access to healthcare and live in decent homes.

That is why we are here and why we fight corruption.

Because the price of corruption is paid for by all of us but especially by the poorest in our countries.

The private jet that is paid for by the school that is not built.

The luxury house that is paid for by those who cannot get the medicine they need.

The yacht paid for by the homeless.

How do we change that? There is much we know, and much you will debate this week.

No one can be in Malaysia and not be aware of the corruption allegations of recent months and how damaging they are to the country. There is a corruption crisis here.

As a global anti-corruption movement it is our role to ask questions, to challenge those who abuse their power, to champion those who cannot speak and to engage with those who sincerely wish to change.

Let us recall those two words – honesty and integrity.

What does that mean for Malaysia?

The government has taken measures and initiatives to tackle corruption. We will surely hear that from the minister.

We want to see more progress but that cannot happen while there are unanswered questions about the $700m that made its way into the Prime Minister’s personal bank account.

In recent weeks we have seen the Attorney-General who was critical of the government suddenly replaced, the 1MDB taskforce suspended, investigators at the Anti-Corruption Commission arrested or transferred, and newspapers suspended for reporting on the matter.

These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption.

We may well hear promises of reform. That is not what is needed at this time. And promises alone will not restore confidence and trust.

There are two questions that need to be answered:

Who paid the money and why?

Where did it go?

One man could answer those questions.

If that does not happen then only a fully independent investigation, free from political interference, can uncover the truth.

Until that happens, no claim from the government on anti-corruption will be credible.

I stand here today with you and say this is what the people want from government – honesty and integrity.

Our movement does not stand alone. We have common cause with all who speak up against those that would seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.

We are global.

We have a powerful voice.

We are together against corruption.

This conference will last three days, but our work will continue each and every day both in Malaysia and throughout the world.


Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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