Monday, November 21, 2011

Korea : 'Social media promotes transparency'

With the growth of social networking sites, corrupt governments and traditional media with low journalistic integrity will face an increasingly difficult time to convince the public why they should continue to exist, according to Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International (TI).

“People have begun to have increasingly high expectations of social media,” Labelle said in an interview at the Shilla Hotel in downtown Seoul, Sunday.

“It has been a very interesting and chaotic year. The ‘Arab Spring’ followed by an Indian summer and trailed by the European sovereign debt crisis.”

The former Canadian transport deputy minister claimed that the crisis of governance in many parts of the world reflects people’s longing for transparency in handling public interest and taxpayers’ money.

She said more people will seek social networking sites as alternative sources of receiving and communicating information over the existing media.

“Overtime people notice, act and reject certain media that are not independent, responsible and professional,” Labelle said.

“The media is putting itself in a vulnerable position if it does not reform itself.”

She said the world will undergo a massive social change as more people will realize that information that they have been fed is biased or fabricated and certain information has been kept secret from them by those with vested interests.

Labelle claimed that many corrupt corporations will soon have to take responsibility for their unethical business practices.

“It is a matter of time today before they are caught,” she said. “Companies playing under the table in order to gain contracts are making themselves highly vulnerable.”

She argued that when employees see their bosses do not live by the law, they are most likely to do the same in the company.

“Leaders who do not adopt a clean strategy are doing so at their own peril,” she said “Some of your staff will steal from them, while others will find another job and later come up with documents that make them stand trial.”

Labelle urged businesses to adopt a clean, transparent business policy, and join the United National Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative for businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles.

“The minute you start paying bribes, your hand is in the grinder and your whole body goes with it,” she said, adding that most of nations have criminalized bribery.

Labelle said that she has been focusing her efforts on educating the youth about the importance of the anti-corruption drive.

“If they have a strong moral compass, they will be able to differentiate what is right and wrong,” she said.

“I want young people to see themselves not as a victim of corruption, but as a person who provides solutions.”

Labelle arrived in Seoul Saturday to attend the Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Conference 2011, which starts today for two days.

TI's latest corruption perception index, which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption, ranks Korea 39th among 178 countries surveyed.

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