Conflict of interest

Updated May 2020

The 2019 Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index[1] describes efforts made by governments to insulate themselves against tobacco industry interference, which remains a great concern particularly in developing countries. Conflicts of interest arise when senior government officials cooperate with tobacco companies to promote the industry’s interests during tobacco control policy development and enforcement.

Conflicts of interest reported in the ASEAN region are:

Country Conflict of interest
Cambodia[2]The president of the LYP Group – which owns the cigarette business, Hero King Co., LTD – is currently a senator. The government does not prohibit political contributions to parties, candidates, or campaigns from the tobacco industry or any entity working to further industry interests, or to require full disclosure of such contributions.
Indonesia[3]Hanafi Usman, a retired Director of Audit of the Directorate General of Custom and Tax was reappointed to Sampoerna’s Audit Committee in 2015.
Lao PDR[4]There are no political campaigns in Lao – hence no political donations. However key government officials in the Ministries of Finance and Industry & Commerce are currently sitting on the tobacco industry’s Joint Venture Board of Management.
Malaysia[5]Since 2017, Malaysian Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Aseh bin Haji Che Mat has been an independent non-executive director and chairman of the board at BAT Malaysia. He has held several civil service positions since 1974, and served as the Secretary General of the Ministry of Home Affairs from 2001-2007. There have been no other recent appointments of government officials to tobacco industry positions.
Malaysia’s employee provident fund (EPF) continues to hold shares in BAT Malaysia.
Myanmar[6]The government does not prohibit contributions from the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests. Retired senior government officials have historically been a part of the tobacco industry in the country.
Philippines[7]The existing election law (Batas Pambansa 881) only bans political contributions from corporations but still allows individuals – including representatives of the tobacco industry – to contribute to political parties, candidates or campaigns.
Thailand[8]Retired senior government officials are regularly appointed as Thai Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) board members. Current government officials such as senior officers from the Excise Department and the Ministry of Finance are current TTM board members. Since the TTM is a state enterprise, the appointment is seen as normal.
Vietnam[9]Vietnam is a unitary / single-party government, hence there is no need for competitive election campaigns and / or political donations. There is no available current evidence of retired government officials joining the tobacco industry. Regardless, this practice has occurred previously, and most government officials appointed in the past are still connected with the Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba).

 

[1] Mary Assunta (Author). E. Ulysses Dorotheo and Christina Hipolito (Editor) Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC). Bangkok, Thailand. Sept 2019. https://globaltobaccoindex.org/
[2] Cambodia – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/3c1zYGg
[3] Indonesia – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/2WakwRD
[4] Lao PDR – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/2ybIioo
[5] Malaysia – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/3bQptpq
[6] Myanmar – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/2YhnzKp
[7] Philippines – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/2WhfXoS
[8] Thailand – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/3bP6onD
[9] Vietnam – country summary, Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019. https://bit.ly/2WdGsv0

Revolving door: Appointing Influential People on tobacco company boards

Thailand

As a government owned entity, former or current government officials are appointed to or employed by TTM. In 2014 the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Interior was on the Thai Tobacco Monopoly’s executive board, while a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office owned a tobacco leaf business.[1]

Having government officials in TTM’s Board of Director is normal for TTM since it enables the company to establish collaboration with government officials and provide opportunities for the company to have a say in relevant public policies. Government officials working for TTM are liaisons between TTM and other policymakers. Currently, the chairman of TAOT is a retired Lieutenant General. The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance is the vice chairman of the company. Among the 18 Board of Directors, nine are current government officials or are serving in the army, three retired government officials, two academics and two are business representatives.[2] TTM also engages with public officials through its CSR activities.

[1] SEATCA. (January 2014). Tobacco Industry Interference Index: ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3. Retrieved from https://seatca.org/dmdocuments/SEATCA-TI%20Index%20 Report%202014.pdf
[2] TTM. 2017 Annual Report. pp. 32-40.