Graft a threat to Asian nations


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 16 Jun 2005

KUALA LUMPUR: Corruption is a serious threat to Asian nations, said Harvard Business School Professor Daniel Quinn Mills yesterday. 

“Corruption is dangerous and has destroyed several Asian nations. It will destroy the economy first and then the nation,” he told about 250 CEOs and executives attending the luncheon talk organised by StarBizweek and Harvard Club of Malaysia. 

“Leaders in Asian countries talk about stamping it out and don’t do anything about it. Corruption continues to be a serious threat to Asian economies,” Mills said in a lecture on “Leadership styles in the US: How different are they from Asia?” 

He said that in the United States financial fraud among corporations was more notable, and corruption was much less important. 

MAKING A POINT: Prof Mills addressing the CEOs and executives attending the luncheon talkorganised by StarBizweekand Harvard Club of Malaysia at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said political connections were not unknown in America but were less important compared with Asia. 

“Political connections are so important for top business leaders in Asia, whether in democracies or one-party states. It is a characteristic of Asian top executives that they have such connections, which are important to their businesses.” 

In America, he added, chief executive officers of very large firms often have virtually no direct connections to top politicians – the government is treated at arms length. 

On corporate governance, he said: “In the West, it means oversight from regulators, boards of directors, even institutional shareholders. While Asia now has most of these regulatory institutions, they are not well established and not as significant, ordinarily, in the minds of top executives.” 

Leadership styles, according to Mills were more varied in America today than in Asia. 

He said that while in the United States businesses were mostly headed by professional managers, most Asian businesses continued to be led by members of the founding families.  

Earlier, when introducing Mills, The Star group chief editor Datuk Wong Sulong said the luncheon talk was the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between Harvard Business School and The Star to bring renowned speakers, corporate leaders and academicians, to share their ideas, experience and visions with Malaysians, particularly those in the business world. 

“Our Prime Minister has made it his agenda to change the mindset of Malaysians so that we will not be dismissed internationally as a nation with first world infrastructure but a third world mentality. To achieve that, our delivery systems have to be reformed and improved. 

“Through the Executive Lecture Series, The Star and the Harvard Club are doing their bit to help improve on our delivery systems,'' he added.  

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