This week’s Economic Reform Feature Service articles highlight the final two winning essays from CIPE’s 2011 International Youth Essay Competition. Riska Mirzalina and Ruth Nyambura, the second and third place winners respectively in the Corruption category, discuss how youth in their countries can engage in anti-corruption movements and advocacy to change the status quo.
In Riska Mirzalina’s “The Cost of Corruptions: A Tale from Indonesia” she points out that:
- While Indonesia is a land of abundant resources, corruption prevents the country as a whole from benefiting from them.
- The change from a centralized government to a decentralized government has not had the desired affect and has actually provided more opportunities and alternate paths for people to participate in corruption.
- Entrepreneurs, businesses, and associations must unify in their effort against corruption and bribery. The cost of not doing so is increased poverty, human suffering, and underdevelopment.
In Ruth Nyambura’s “Generation Now,” she talks about how:
- A large percentage of Kenya’s GDP is used to repay foreign aid. Much of the foreign aid is lost or misappropriated due to corruption.
- “Kitu kidogo” is a Kiswahili euphemism for a bribe. Bribes are pervasive in all facets of Kenyan life. As a result many entrepreneurs are choosing to leave the country, which has a negative effect on Kenyan society as a whole.
- The new generation will bear the brunt of corruption. Therefore the youth should refuse any form of corrupt practices including cronyism, nepotism and tribalism. By utilizing technology and adopting social media platforms the youth can fight corruption.
Thank you for everyone who participated in the 2011 competition! We recently closed the 2012 CIPE Youth Essay Competition, and look forward to reading them and announcing the winners in spring of 2013!
To add to the theme of International Women’s Day, here is a woman’s perspective on corporate social responsibility from Yanti Koestoer, Executive Director of Indonesia Business Links. She talks about this important issue in her CIPE Development Institute presentation (free registration required), focusing on the context of developing countries. Ms. Koestoer, who has developed and supervises numerous programs in business ethics, entrepreneurship and youth employment, and responsible natural resources practices, concludes that:
“Corporate social responsibility is important as an element of development because companies need to look after their communities. Companies have to look at that as part of their integrated strategy in doing business.”
In other words, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or corporate citizenship, is a business strategy that produces long-term benefits for both communities and businesses. Given the common misconceptions, it is crucial that the private sector, governments, and the public understand the meaning of corporate citizenship. It is not simply charity. Instead, it also focuses on contributing to the society through other means such as improving local human capital, protecting the environment, and developing the culture of accountability and transparency.
Ms. Koestoer adds that in her experience corporate citizenship should not be forced upon the private sector through legislation – it works better as a voluntary endeavor. Many small-scale enterprises have already been operating in that way for years but do not necessarily call it CSR. Therefore, it is important to keep them engaged in their communities without imposing excessive burdens. As good corporate citizens, all businesses in developing and developed countries alike can thrive responsibly.
You can learn more about CIPE Development Institute here.
Yesterday, I attended a roundtable discussion on the state of the media in Indonesia after Soeharto, held by the Center for International Media Assistance of the National Endowment for Democracy. Some interesting points relating to different types of media:
Print: Janet Steele (George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs; author of a book on Tempo, an independent magazine during the Soeharto years), praised the relatively free regulatory environment instituted by the post-Soeharto government and noting that the last remaining great obstacle is the civil defamation law and its enforcement. Citing a poorly educated judiciary with little understanding of press freedom, she told one story of how, when a rival print news outlet’s conglomerate owner was logging illegally in a protected area, Tempo Magazine’s front cover story on the subject wrought a defamation law suit upon them. Curiously, the plaintiff was not the conglomerate, but rather the president of the conglomerate himself, who claimed that “a trial should not occur by press.” No one was surprised when Tempo lost the lawsuit.
Radio: Munarsih Sahana is a senior reporter for Radio Republic Indonesia, the government-owned station now converting into public radio. He noted that over 1,200 registered commercial stations now broadcast across different regions of the country; however, registration remains the problem. Indonesia’s uniquely decentralized democratic structure gives frequency allocation powers to regional governments, while licenses are issued federally by the Ministry of Information and Telecommunication.