President’s speeches

Taipei Corporate governance conference – March 2019

Practical Corporate Governance Conference 2019, Taiwan
Guests of Honour Speech
Edith Shih, International President, ICSA

Thank you Mr Maa and Samantha Suen. Distinguished guests, members and friends, good morning. 

I am absolutely delighted to have the privilege of joining our friends and colleagues here in Taiwan at this first-ever jointly organised corporate governance conference.  Whilst extending a very warm welcome to our local attendees here, may I also take the opportunity to introduce our colleagues from The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries (HKICS) who have travelled from Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK to be with us, as speakers, panelists and attendees.

Today for me, is a dream come true – from the first encounter with our colleagues here including Mr Maa, Prof Faung, Prof Tsang and Prof Chu some 3 years ago.  This forum comes at a very timely moment in the development of corporate governance in Taiwan, following the launch of the Corporate Governance Best-Practice Principles for Listed Companies by the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the Taipei Exchange in December 2018, before that, the New Corporate Governance Roadmap (2018–2020) in April last year.

Taiwan's new governance regime is the hard work of the government, the stock exchanges, regulators and also of course Taiwan's corporate governance community represented here at this event. It seeks to combine international best practice with regulations based on local characteristics and requirements. Board structures, together with the basic infrastructure of law and enforcement differ around the world, but amid all this diversity, there has been remarkable convergence around the core principles of transparency, accountability and fair treatment of shareholders and other stakeholders.

The importance of our roles as governance professionals is not always acknowledged in law or governance requirements. At a practical level, however, good governance is all about just getting the details right.  It also means building and maintaining effective internal controls, risk management and board structures and procedures. Having appropriately qualified governance professionals on board ensures that these 'details' get the attention they deserve.

In this context, I am very glad to see that the Taiwan Stock Exchange is bringing in a requirement for companies listed on the Exchange with paid-in capital of NT$10 billion or more, and those in the financial industry, to appoint a company secretary. Moreover, the Exchange's revised best practice principles are explicit about the importance of the work of governance professionals in ensuring proper governance and compliance.  It is therefore most crucial that there is an adequate number of governance personnel with appropriate qualifications.

The ICSA has been working for many years in this space of corporate governance.  It is in fact the only global qualifying body for company secretaries and governance professionals. We have about 30,000 members worldwide, and we are represented in more than 80 countries, covering all five continents.

While historically our membership mainly comprised company secretaries, in recent years, we have been widening our membership base to become the home for all governance professionals. Last year, we launched our Chartered Governance Professional qualification and we are now in the process of changing our name to The Chartered Governance Institute. We have also been building our international website as a global resource in governance thought leadership. If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend that you take a look at our website, which is open to everyone, not just ICSA members. There you will find recent papers on, amongst others, shareholder engagement, minute taking practices, Artificial Intelligence and hybrid models of AGMs (deploying both virtual and face to face elements). 

In conclusion, I am honoured to be taking part in this conference, which, as Samantha pointed out in her introduction, is a perfect example of the potential we have when we come together as a global community of governance practitioners, to share our expertise, skills and insights. At this time of global political and financial uncertainty, we need more than ever to promote and adhere to the value of the good governance principles which is the foundation of our profession.  I hope that you will find this conference a practical one – the speakers and panelists today are seasoned practitioners in governance who have culminated years of real life experience in their practice.  I very much look forward to our sharing and cross-fertilization of learning and insights.  Thank you very much.


Taipei, Taiwan
29 March 2019