Most Cambodians believe that corruption among civil servants, the military and police
is a normal way of doing things and are in almost unanimous agreement that corruption
should be stopped, according to a soon-to-be-released survey conducted by the Phnom
Penh-based Center for Social Development (CSD).
Billed as "the first scientific survey on Cambodian attitudes toward corruption",
the CSD surveyed 1,513 urban and rural adults between January and May 1998 to determine
public attitudes towards corruption, which the Center defined as "the misuse
of public power for private profit".
When asked if "Bribery is the normal way of doing things" 84% of the respondents
said ëyes', and 98% of the respondents said it was very important to end corruption
The survey also determined that Cambodians "believe that corruption hurts the
national economy (91%), reduces confidence in government (90%), and makes the rich
richer and the poor poorer (89%)."
As far as how to end corruption, 79% of those surveyed said that raising civil servant's
salaries was the best way to proceed. The report noted that the average wage for
the country's 174,000 civil servants was $20 per month and for the 140,000 military
personnel the figure was $25. Neither wage was sufficient to support a family.
Interestingly, the report states, "only 57% of National Assembly members and
75% of Cabinet members believe that bribery is normal." As well, only 59% of
National Assembly members saw raising civil servant's salaries as a remedy for corruption.
The report describes corruption as widespread throughout the government bureaucracy,
including teachers who demand payments from students, health care workers who won't
treat people unless bribes are paid, police who put the squeeze on motorists and
businesses, and judges who demand payoffs in return for favorable rulings in court.
In looking at ways to curb corruption, the CSD recommends massive education and public
awareness campaigns, the introduction of counter-corruption school curriculums, raising
governmental salaries and the passage of a national counter-corruption law, which
the report notes has been stalled in the National Assembly.
CSD says that the report will be officially released before the end of January.