Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ACU takes aim at bribes

ACU takes aim at bribes

ACU takes aim at bribes

120509_04
Chhay Savuth, acting president of the Anti-Corruption Unit, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The Anti-Corruption Unit has set its sights on illegal fees paid at the commune level and intends to stamp out a decades-old culture of bribery within the next four months, ACU officials announced yesterday.

At a press conference, acting ACU president Chhay Savuth said that 22 ministries would be involved in the new initiative that would examine 2,000 services offered at the commune and sangkat level.

“The Ministry of Economics and Finance will set up a scheduled fee for each type of public service,” Chhay Savuth said. “We have already started to work on these issues and expect to complete our work within three or four months.”

He stressed that under the Penal Code, there were severe prison sentences for government officials or individuals involved in bribery.

“The culture of bribery has been in place for over 20 years, and now we have to illuminate a bad culture and change it to a good culture, and we will take legal action against any government official who continues to take bribes,” he added.

One of the first targets of the ACU after its formation in late 2010 was facilitation fees – a bribe paid to a government official to receive a public service such as road repairs or company registrations.

Chhay Savuth said the ACU was also appealing to individual NGOs, political parties, and associations who wish to fight bribery at the commune level to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the ACU to monitor bribery in a commune of their choice.

He called for NGOs and political parties to apply with the ACU for an MoU between May and October this year.

“The NGO and political party will need to employ their own human resources and budget to facilitate services for the people and monitor illegal fee paying within their commune,” he explained.

Transparency International Cambodia Executive Director Kol Preap welcomed the ACU’s move to work with civil society.

“NGOs will complement the role of the authorities and hold the authorities accountable, but the legitimate power and those who can implement regulations will be the government and the authorities,” Kol Preap said. TI has called corruption in Cambodia “systemic”.

“People become part of the problem when they proactively pay bribes without being asked. This is what is meant by systemic,” Kol Preap said. “This is one of the main issues – people don’t realize that exchanging an envelope for a service is part of corruption.”

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua of the Sam Rainsy Party said the government had lagged behind in identifying commune-level corruption as an important issue in the Kingdom.

“Corruption at the local level as been a huge problem for the poor for a long time,” Mu Sochua said, adding it was one of the core issues the SRP party intended to tackle.

“I hope it is the same for them, but we are 27 days away from an election right now,” Mu Sochua said. “I am a bit afraid that this is about the campaign and not addressing something that is rotten at the core.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Vong Sokheng at [email protected]
Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all