THE Council of Ministers has approved the new draft Penal Code, which observers say they hope will pave the way for the passage of the government's long-delayed Anti-Corruption Law. During a plenary session Friday, the Council formally approved the 672-article draft law, which will now be sent to the National Assembly for adoption.
If passed, the new Penal Code will replace the UNTAC Law, which has provided the Kingdom's penal framework since 1992, adjusting it to new legal demands and updating it to "ensure freedom, prestige, social security and public order", according to a statement by the Council.
Civil society groups said the passage of the Penal Code left no excuses for the government not to pass the anti-graft legislation.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People's Centre for Development and Peace, an NGO, said that if the Penal Code is adopted, it should provide the supporting legislation government officials have long claimed is lacking.
"Very often, the government has promised that after adopting the Penal Code, [they] would send the draft Anti-Corruption Law to the National Assembly for approval. That is why we are observing this closely," he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed Sunday that the draft Anti-Corruption Law was at the Council and waiting for the Penal Code - which contains articles related to corruption - to be adopted by the National Assembly.
But he said that if the Assembly objects to some points in the draft, they could send it back to the Council for amendment.
"So the fate of the Anti-Corruption Law is linked to the fate of the Penal Code," he said.