Cambodia is still perceived as one of East Asia’s most corrupt countries, according to this year’s Corruption Perception Index from Transparency International, although it has moved up four places worldwide since last year.
Cambodia scored 21 out of 100 points in 2014’s survey, a one-point increase from 2013, and is now ranked 156th out of 175 countries, up from 160th out of 177 last year.
Cambodia and Myanmar both scored 21 points. Only North Korea, which tied with Somalia for last place worldwide, was ranked lower in East Asia.
“The improvement might be incremental but it shows that Cambodia is slowly heading towards a more transparent and accountable future,” said TI Cambodia chairman Rath Sopoan.
According to TI Cambodia executive director Preap Kol, Cambodia’s one-point overall increase was largely due to an 11-point jump in one of the seven indexes used to compile its score – the Global Insight Index, which assesses economic stability and risk.
Kol said a major reason for the jump was the end of political tension this year, which created a more stable business environment.
“Because of political conflicts during the election year, that posed a risk for business, but when [the opposition] joined the government it changed.”
However, Sam Rainsy Party senator and secretary for the anti-corruption committee Seng Mardi said political stability had no real effect on corruption in the Kingdom.
“I think there will be no improvement, even now that the opposition is in the parliament,” Mardi said. “I’m the secretary for anti-corruption and we cannot even ask for regular reports from the ministers.”
Mardi added that he thought the one-point improvement was insignificant.
“If you rank at the bottom of the class one year and are still at the bottom the next, even if you are tied with someone else, the result is the same.”
Kol said that despite the paltry improvement, the issue of corruption was gaining wider currency in Cambodia.
“Three or four years ago, those who want to talk about corruption were very few, but recently people have been speaking up”, he said.