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Anti-graft legislation in sight: govt

Anti-graft legislation in sight: govt

Passage of penal code hoped to lead to anti-corruption law

THE Council of Ministers is in the process of reviewing a new draft penal code, the passage of which will pave the way for the Kingdom's long-delayed anti-corruption legislation.

But with only 40 of some 700 articles examined so far, critics say this is just another ploy to avoid passing the graft-busting decree, which has been a key demand of foreign donors.

"The Council of Minister currently has reviewed more than 40 articles of the 700 articles of the draft penal code," Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told a conference Monday.

"After reviewing the draft [penal code] the government will continue to inspect the anti-corruption law," he added, without specifying a date that the review would be completed.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and spokesman Son Chhay said that while the opposition welcomed the review of the draft penal code, they urged the government to finish the job "sooner rather than later".

"We are very worried as this fourth-term government has more than 500 members," Son Chhay said. "If we have don't have an anti-corruption law and penal code, we will have difficulty punishing corrupt officials," he added.

Ny Chakrya, head of the monitoring section for the rights group Adhoc, said, "[Reviewing the penal code first] is the CPP's pretext to avoid making the anti-corruption law. They have a real purpose to delay [this] debate."

According to Ny Chakrya, the government's lacklustre commitment to passing anti-corruption legislation is shown in the fact less essential laws - such as one banning adultery - were passed first. 

Bun Uy, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, told Post by phone Tuesday that government has no reason to delay the passage of the anti-corruption law. "We need to pass the new penal code first because punishing crime is related both to the penal code and the anti-corruption law," he said.

Unless the penal code was passed first, the anti-corruption law could end up conflicting with it, he said. "The relevant ministries are working very hard and had discussed this week [how to expedite the passage of] the penal code."