Cambodian citizens rate public sector corruption as the Kingdom's leading
problem, states a survey due for release later this month.
based on research conducted in November and December, 1999, "presents a detailed
analysis and diagnosis based on a large-scale, scientific governance and
Among the country's other problems, said
Cambodians, were a lack of leadership, a high crime rate, the cost of living,
the high cost of health care, and unemployment.
The survey's respondents
rated public sector corruption between 'major' and 'very severe'. Many said that
demands for bribes by public servants were on the increase.
servants agreed with that assessment: more than 25 percent conceding that
corruption was practiced in their organizations. They thought that on average,
around 10 percent of public funds were fraudulently diverted.
head of the Prime Minister's anti-corruption unit, said that the launch of the
Good Governance Action Plan later this month meant the public would soon know
the results of the inquiry.
"We would like several seminars to
disseminate that report, together with our good governance action plan. The
Prime Minister would like to launch it himself," he said.
funded by the World Bank and conducted by local NGO Lidee Khmer, was distributed
at donors' meetings in both Paris and Tokyo, but is yet to be publicly
disseminated, said Bonaventure Mbida-Essama, the World Bank's chief in
The survey found that corruption consumed around 2 percent of
household incomes. Respondents said they would willingly sacrifice a larger
proportion of their income if it meant eliminating corruption.
criticized institutions were the country's courts along with the customs
department. The survey noted that respondents who had direct experiences with
the courts or customs were the most willing to sacrifice a proportion of their
income in exchange for eliminating corruption.
Manith said the launch of
the governance plan would give the government the opportunity to respond to its
critics, some of whom have been particularly vocal recently. The government was
annoyed at comments given at a recent anti-corruption seminar, not least those
by US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann.
"What we would like to explain to people
who criticize the government is that we want to solve the problem holistically,"
said Manith. "We don't say there is no corruption in Cambodia, but [the
government cannot] solve the problem by just adopting laws. We have to take a
holistic approach. We don't yet have legal and judicial reform, so if we adopt
the law, who will enforce it?"
He said that the replacement of Ouk
Vithon with Neav Sithong as justice minister was an important step that
demonstrated the government's willingness to tackle corruption.
recognize that we have some weaknesses. We hope that the new Minister of Justice
will accelerate reform. This shows the government's will for reform, but it is
not as easy as someone from outside might say. To say things is easy, but to act
"We would like to have a Minister of Justice who has the
willingness to [implement] reform, which was too slow under the previous
minister. We hope the new minister will contribute more actively [to reform],"
For the record, not all institutions were criticized in the
report: NGOs and temples, as well as services for post, water and telephone,
received the highest ratings for integrity.