Meet Le Hien Duc, she is seventy seven years young and a retired school teacher and community activist living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Last night she was honoured in Berlin by Transparency International as one of two recipients of the annual Integrity Awards. Le Hien Duc is a grass roots organiser who, over her twenty five years of activism, has never been afraid to represent the interests of her community against the petty demands of public officials even in the face of numerous death threats. She has become something of a celebrity in her native Vietnam and today the local media regularly seek out her opinion and follow her doings in her work to resist corruption.
Also honoured last night was Mark Pieth, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions and member of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the Iraq Oil-for-Food Programme scandal. Mark has been a tireless campaigner who has spoken out eloquenty and forcefully out when national government agencies have fallen short in their duty to fight corruption.
The awards were presided over by TI’s Chair, Hugette Labelle at a GTZ hosted reception. In honouring these two individuals, TI have highlighted the necessary dual approach taken separately by these individuals, grass roots and top down reform, towards fighting corruption. I was invited to this event on account of SAP’s long time support of and participation in Transparency International private sector engagement programmes. It was great pleasure to be present as these individuals were hnoured by TI. The cause of transparency can all to quickly get policy wonkish and technical and so we need to hear the stories of people such as Le Hien Duc and Marke Pieth to understand the day to day reality of the problem and to gain inspiration to do something about it.