King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal decree enacting the law that establishes the Ministry of Inspection on October 5. This followed its passage through the National Assembly in mid-September, a subsequent review by the Senate on September 21 and the Constitutional Council’s approval on September 28.

It now officially replaces the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection, with all officials and civil servants carrying on their duties and responsibilities, under the new leadership.

In an interview with reporter Samban Chandara, inspection minister Huot Hak expressed his strong commitment to enhancing governance, efficiency and the overall quality of national institutions. He emphasised the importance of curbing power abuses and combating corruption, aligning these efforts with the initial phase of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy, which is being led by Prime Minister Hun Manet.

Can you tell us why the government needs to establish the inspection ministry?

The Ministry of Inspection draws its historical roots from Cambodia’s era between 1953 and 1970 when it was known as the National Committee for General Clearance. Following the fall of the [Khmer Rouge] Democratic Kampuchea regime in 1979, administrative changes led to its renaming as the Ministry of State Affairs Inspection in 1981. It was later changed again to the Ministry of Supervision in 1987. During the first legislative session from 1994 to 1998, it took on the name General Secretariat of Royal Government Inspection.

The establishment of the Ministry of Inspection in the current seventh mandate aims to contribute to government reform. The inspection sector plays a pivotal role in enhancing good governance and elevating the quality of public institutions, ultimately improving the efficiency of government work, bolstering social justice, and advancing the nation’s development. The inspection functions as an integral component of the initial phase of the Pentagonal Strategy.

What is the significance of the inspection ministry and what will be its impact on the country, especially the functioning of the government?

The inspection ministry collaborates with the government to enhance and fortify governance. The ministry conducts comprehensive inspections across all sectors and addresses complaints within the government’s jurisdiction. Its role involves preventing, mitigating and remedying issues while taking necessary action against civil servants and members of the armed forces who are accused of neglecting their societal duties.

The ministry actively partners with the government in confronting, combating and eradicating corruption, which poses a significant threat to the government’s development policies aimed at meeting the needs of the people.

In addition, the Ministry of Inspection holds a crucial position in enhancing the governance of institutions at all levels. It also plays a key role in reinforcing the enforcement of laws, ethical standards and mechanisms within the labor sector. The ministry’s responsibilities extend to improving the effective and efficient delivery of public services to the people.

The ministry collaborates closely with the government in addressing disputes that are responsive to the real-world challenges of society. Inspection serves as the vigilant eyes and attentive ears of the upper echelons of leadership while serving as a symbol of transparency and accountability at lower levels. It’s important to note that inspection is irreplaceable when it comes to building trust in the system.

Can you explain briefly how the inspection ministry will function?

The Ministry of Inspection has divided its plans of action into two categories: developmental actions and skilled working actions. First, regarding the developmental actions of the ministry, there are four key points.

The first point aims to strengthen institutions, improve and organise ministries and inspection departments in both the capital and provinces, following social digital standards.

The second point focuses on building human resource capital, which involves training civil servants from ministries and inspection departments in the capital and provinces, ensuring that they possess the necessary capabilities, professionalism and dignity to execute their tasks and maintain exemplary conduct as inspection officials.

The third point involves the development of legal documents, with a particular emphasis on studying legal standards that support the inspection sector’s functions.

The fourth point seeks to establish internal harmony by fostering solidarity, unity, collaborative working methods and fostering good relations throughout all levels of the organisation.

Secondly, the Ministry of Inspection will implement three main working actions.

Firstly, the ministry will disseminate laws more extensively among the general public, civil servants and members of the armed forces to prevent illegal activities proactively.

Secondly, it will monitor the performance of ministries’ institutions at both the highest and local levels. The ministry will maintain a forward-looking approach, listening closely to make accurate judgments and identify the root causes of difficulties and errors. It will actively contribute to the improvement and rectification of misconduct, setting good institutions as examples to follow.

Thirdly, the ministry will closely monitor and assess the progress in the execution of tasks and duties by ministries, institutions and sub-national administrations.

As the Minister of Inspection, how do you plan to oversee the performance of government officials, particularly in their efforts to combat corruption, as outlined by the goals set by the new government?

I am committed to implementing the political programs of the new government and the initial phase of the Pentagonal Strategy. My dedication lies in further enhancing capacities and governance while improving institutional quality at both the national and sub-national levels. This commitment is aimed at ensuring the efficiency of delivering public services and fostering long-term economic growth.

I am also committed to strengthening governance within the private sector and enhancing the business, investment and trade environment. This includes pursuing five critical approaches to better governance through comprehensive reforms, which encompass self-reflection, scrutiny, exfoliation, treatment and surgical interventions.

The Ministry of Inspection is poised to take measures to prevent, combat and eradicate power abuses and corruption among civil servants and members of the armed forces that undermine the nation’s restoration and development efforts, as well as hinder the promotion of good governance.