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Graft policy gets green light

THE Anticorruption Unit yesterday approved a policy that will require more than 100,000 government and military officials to declare their personal assets in a bid to fight the Kingdom’s endemic levels of graft.

“The National Anticorruption Council just approved the asset declaration policy,” ACU spokesman Keo Remy said.

“This policy is very important because it describes in detail which government officials in Cambodia will be required to declare their property in the near future.”

He said that officials including government ministers, senators, parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors, court clerks, military officers, police chiefs, security guards and drivers would be required to declare their assets by January 1.

He pointed out that ACU staff would be also be required to comply with the new policy.

ACU chairman Om Yentieng said yesterday that the new asset declaration policy was the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

“I hope that with this asset declaration policy we will able to show our government officials’ transparency and accountability, as well as reduce and prevent corruption in Cambodia,” he said.

He said yesterday that after the ACU completed its documentation of the assets of government officials, it would initiate a policy requiring members of civil society to declare their assets as well.

Critics, however, have been sceptical the policy will be fully enforced, and the spouses and relatives of officials will not be required to comply.

Ran Liao, Transparency International’s senior programme coordinator for East and Southeast Asia, said in August that asset declarations in Cambodia would need to be analysed to ensure their accuracy.

“In many countries, as a first step, they have an act which encourages government officials to declare their assets and other things, but there’s no monitoring system included,” he said.

The processing of 100,000 asset declarations could also put a strain on the ACU’s manpower. Tony Kwok Man-wai, the former deputy commissioner of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, said in March that the resources dedicated to fighting graft in Cambodia were “clearly inadequate”.

He pointed out that the 80 anti-graft fighters earmarked so far for the ACU were far less than the 1,300 employed in Hong Kong, which has half Cambodia’s population.

Cambodia passed its Law on Anticorruption in April, in a bid to combat the country’s endemic levels of graft. Last month, Transparency International ranked Cambodia 154th out of 178 countries for its levels of public-sector corruption.

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