CAMBODIA has improved its position in an international corruption ranking but remains one of the most corrupt countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the latest report from global corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).
In its annual Corruption Perceptions Index released in Berlin on Tuesday, the group rated Cambodia 158 out of 180 countries for public-sector
corruption, a marginal increase on 2008’s ranking, when Cambodia came in 166th.
Cambodia, which shared its ranking with neighbour Laos, was listed ahead of military-ruled Myanmar, which was ranked the third-most corrupt country in the world, but well behind Vietnam (120), Indonesia (111), Thailand (84) and China (79).
When contacted on Tuesday, Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, rejected the country’s ranking, saying it only took into account the negatives.
“They fail to address the anti-corruption measures we are taking,” he said, referring specifically to the recently passed Penal Code and the coming Anticorruption Law, which officials have said will be presented to the National Assembly next year.
“The ranking we don’t mind – we just care about the peace, harmony and happiness of the Cambodian people,” he added.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said there was “no doubt” the TI report painted an accurate picture of the country’s situation. He said the government had been promising an anticorruption law for 13 years and was sceptical it would be passed next year.
“The promise has been made for more than a decade, and so far it has not happened,” he said.
“Corruption has become the culture of Cambodia. The people who are corrupt are still enjoying their impunity.”
According to its Web site, TI’s annual corruption index is calculated from “a survey of surveys” of experts and businesspeople, based both in the country and abroad, covering the past two years.