As one of the more stable economies in South East Asia, Malaysia has slowly and consistently built up its social and aid services at a consistent rate. As more Malaysians dedicate time, effort and money to developing and helping society, we see an increase in Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Social Enterprises.
These organisations, and the people employed there as staff or volunteers, have very important roles to play as they often engage with the poorest and least privileged people in the country.
Just take a look at the amount of people requiring humanitarian aid efforts in Malaysia. As of August 2018, there are some 161,140 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. Over 42,000 of these are children. Aid workers or volunteers can play a significant part in the betterment of these people’s’ lives by offering the necessary help in providing food, necessities, education and security.
For the most part, such NPOs and NGOs are governed by the Registry of Societies of the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs. The registry mainly controls and supervises societies so as not to become incompatible with peace, welfare, security, public order, decorum or morality of Malaysia as well as manage and keep registration records relating to registered societies and their branches. However, these regulations for aid workers are not set in stone which leaves too much room for interpretation.
While we’ve not had any cases of aid workers abusing their positions in Malaysia, we’ve seen some horror stories in other parts of the world. From accusations of sex abuse to fund misappropriation and embezzlement in reputable organisations such as the UN and Oxfam, these issues highlight that NPOs and NGOs, if not properly governed, can lead to huge repercussions on the very people they are supposed to help.
There are 2 ways to go about preventing these sort of problems, both of which are preventive.
The first should be to provide adequate training and protocols to ensure all employees and volunteers are aware of the correct code of conduct. On the other hand, background screening is also an essential and effective process that should take place prior to training. By having pre and during employment background screening, organisations would be able to verify if an employee or volunteer is genuine in their intention to help the less fortunate.
Some might find this process to be an additional hassle, as volunteers of NPOs or NGOs generally do not demand high salaries. Why would you doubt someone who would gain so little by sacrificing so much time and effort?
Earlier this year, a whistle blower revealed that UN staff were responsible for 60,000 rapes in the last decade as aid workers indulged in sex abuse unchecked around the world. The report also claimed that over 3,300 UN staff were paedophiles. People with predatory tendencies and those that have been caught in monstrous acts against their charges have been found to have taken on roles such as aid workers precisely because it gives them more authority and access towards those that are powerless.
Thus, if the role of NGOs and NPOs are to help the underprivileged, then the number one priority should be to ensure they are protected from wolves in sheep’s clothing and are surrounded by the right kind of people.
NPOs and NGOs should take a keen interest in knowing who they have working with, especially in terms of financial history, criminal history and verifying their references. Do you really know your volunteer?
Do you agree with our suggestions for NPOs and NGOs? Let us know. We have new articles each week, visit www.verityintel.com to stay tuned to our blog.