KUALA LUMPUR: The lack of political will to eradicate corruption remains a major stumbling block to development in the region, delegates at the Fourth Regional Anti-Corruption Conference for Asian and Pacific Countries concluded.
In reviewing the progress of the 21 participating countries since endorsing the Anti-Corruption Action Plan at the third conference in Tokyo in 2001, participants said the lack of political will would hamper social and political reforms and delay poverty reduction.
To sustain ongoing anti-corruption efforts, delegates called for stronger regional co-operation and the continuous sharing of expertise and experience.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development anti-corruption division head Enery Quinones said there had been signs of greater political will among member governments over the last few years.
What we dont want is for governments to be complacent. Political will needs to be renewed constantly.
It is not enough to talk about it and then forget it because fighting corruption requires an enormous amount of effort, she said after closing the conference here yesterday.
Asian Development Bank governance and regional co-operation division director Jak Jabes said the three pillars for combating corruption identified under the action plan were transparency in the civil service, efforts to reduce bribery while promoting integrity in businesses and the participation of civil society.
There has been quite a bit of work done on the first and second pillars, although I am not saying everything is rosy. But the third pillar needs to be worked on, involving civil society in the decision-making process, he said.
He said although some countries might not be ready for direct participation, the people must be heard.
Citizens elect governments into power. It is important for them to have channels through which they can voice their concerns and governments can use their opinions to develop strategies to combat corruption, he said.
He praised Malaysia, saying that numerous participating nations admired its initiative in combating graft.