Bank of Thailand official stresses need for morality, good governance


In a detailed exclusive interview with the Integrity Way Team, Mrs. Roong Mallikamas, deputy governor of corporate development at the Bank of Thailand details her vision to create confidence for all sectors while adhering to good governance principles to protect the public benefit as well as promoting transparency and preventing corruption.

“Smart people are not difficult to find. But more importantly, the person must be smart and be a good person with integrity and morals. The person must have the courage to speak out loud about what is right, and what is wrong. We have to stand firm against a wrong thing by adhering with a principle and benefit of the nation as the main agenda,” Mrs. Roong Mallikamas, deputy governor of corporate development, Bank of Thailand, begins the conversation with the Integrity Way team with the words of Dr. Puey Ungphakorn, former Governor of the Bank of Thailand, who is regarded as one of the venerable persons of the country in particularly regarding of honesty and integrity.

Mrs. Mallikamas explained that Dr. Puey is the pride of the BoT and is a good example. He is an inspiration to all BoT employees as he has laid the foundation for working with transparency for the organization. The next generation of executives has always adhered to the same principles since the general banking system can survive by only being reliable, while a central bank can survive with the reliability and confidence of society as well.

BoT as the central bank of Thailand has a main task to manage the overall economic and financial system of the country to operate smoothly and to support the country's economy to grow with stability and sustainability.

Bank of Thailand official stresses need for morality, good governance

From the foundation, it has been adopted into three elements to create reliability for the present tasks:

(1) Having principles, adhering to the principle of rightness, and foreseeing the benefits of the country as key. 

(2) Creating transparency in the decision-making process.

(3) Creating an environment that allows the organization's officials to have morality and good governance.

The deputy governor elaborated that adhering to principles and considering the benefits of the country as the key has always been a tone from the top. At present, we still hear a supervisor repeating and teaching their subordinates that “The BoT never thought of taking advantage of any whether from the internal or external persons. We don’t work to please anyone or to seek popularity. Consequently, the BoT must explain our ideas and opinions. We will not do anything that cannot be explained to society. Anything we do or think, we have to be able to explain why we act or think this way,” she noted. 

Apart from having straightforward working principles, the BoT's task must also go through a process called "Think through, and be able to explain" so that alternatives can be sought and weighed appropriately, comprehensively, and able to answer the public's queries.

Bank of Thailand official stresses need for morality, good governance

The next thing is to create transparency in the decision-making process and make it auditable. What has changed after the Tom Yum Kung economic crisis is that the BoT will use decision-making in a collective format to prevent group think. There are checks and balances in the decision-making power of various committees, whether it be the BoT Board, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), the Financial Institutions Policy Committee (FIPC), or the Payment Systems Committee (PSC). Each of which has a higher proportion of external committees than the BoT’s officials, ensuring that the ideas of BoT officials cannot dominate policy decisions. The decision-making is transparent because there is a data storage and communication system so that it can always be traceable. For example, at the MPC meeting, minutes of the meeting are disclosed to the public. After every meeting, questions were answered, clarifying doubts in many forums.  

The third element is creating an environment that allows executives and employees to perform their duties according to moral principles, have good governance, and support people in the organization to be good and moral people. One thing that will help reduce the chance for corruption is providing appropriate remunerations and welfare so that there won’t be a loophole or at least reduce the chance that a person may exercise their power to benefit themselves or others.

“We must not discourage good people or not make our people feel that being a good person is difficult”. 

Mrs. Mallikamas added that apart from the BoT's regulations that meet the standards of the bureaucracy, another area that the BoT is very concentrated on is awareness regarding Conflict of Interest. The BoT set clear rules regarding the prohibition of investing in assets related to matters under supervision. Although some committees are not directly involved in policy decision-making, the BoT has notified the conditions for the committee to avoid having an involvement since the public doesn't know who is or isn't involved, which may have a scandal after that. Thus, we ask for refraining. Unless there is a truly necessary incident, there are rules to support what must be done in order to ensure that those are based on the principles of transparency and good governance.

Bank of Thailand official stresses need for morality, good governance

Although the BoT has never had any scandals regarding corruption, the BoT has established measures to promote transparency and prevent corruption. For BoT employees to use as a guideline for performing their duties. (Information from the BoT website The measures are included: 1. Measures for disseminating information to the public 2. Measures for stakeholders. 3. Measures to promote transparency in procurement. 4. Measures and guidelines for handling corruption complaints. 5. Measures to prevent bribery. 6. Measures to prevent conflicts between personal interests and public interests, and 7. Measures to inspect the use of discretion.

“Regarding the honesty and integrity that the BoT has always adhered with, besides a person must have those in mind, the framework of the organization must also pave the way for a person to be honest and integrity. An organization must help reduce the risk of employees falling into precarious circumstances while creating pride in that honesty and integrity to maintain reliability in the performance of the central bank's duties,” the deputy governor of the Thai Central Bank concluded.

*This exclusive interview and translation are funded by the National Anti-Corruption Fund (NACF).