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Kingdom ranks high for graft

Some 84 percent of Cambodians say they have paid a bribe in the last 12 months, according to a global corruption survey released yesterday by German NGO Transparency International on International Anti-Corruption Day.

The report, titled 2010 Global Corruption Barometer, was based on polling of 91,000 people in 86 countries and focused on small-scale corruption.

Cambodia ranked among the leading nations where residents most frequently paid some form of bribe, based on surveys of 1,000 Cambodians conducted by Indochina Research in July.

The findings coincide with new efforts by the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit, established earlier this year to address chronic corruption in the Kingdom, and a growing perception among residents that such
efforts are effective.

Seventy-two percent of respondents ranked the government’s efforts to battle corruption as effective or extremely effective.

‘The survey findings are surprising,” Ran Liao, Transparency International’s senior programme coordinator for East and South Asia, said in a phone interview from Germany yesterday.

“I’m not sure why the respondent rate is so high as to why the government is so effective against corruption … in Cambodia. Seventy-two percent of respondents see the government as very effective, which is really above the average and quite high.”

The ACU convened a workshop yesterday to announce the implementation of a policy first introduced in July to require the declaration of all assets by more than 100,000 government officials beginning January1.

“We are starting to fight corruption from the lowest to the highest levels, from small groups to big groups,” said Om Yentieng, head of the ACU and close adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He added that the arrest last week of Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth and two of his bodyguards on charges of corruption, extortion and false imprisonment – the first official arrest by the national anti-corruption body – affirmed the unit’s commitment to battling graft.

Om Yentieng told the workshop that the ACU was also investigating additional corruption cases in Battambang but declined to provide details to delegates.

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