Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia drops in corruption index, taking bottom spot in Asean for third year running



Cambodia drops in corruption index, taking bottom spot in Asean for third year running

Cambodia was perceived to be the most corrupt country in Asean and ranked 164 out of 180 countries globally, according to a new corruption index.
Cambodia was perceived to be the most corrupt country in Asean and ranked 164 out of 180 countries globally, according to a new corruption index. Pha Lina

Cambodia drops in corruption index, taking bottom spot in Asean for third year running

A global corruption perceptions index has ranked Cambodia 161st out of 180 countries, with the report specifically pointing to weak press freedoms and NGO protections as facilitators of graft – issues that commentators have repeatedly raised as concerns in the Kingdom.

The Corruption Perception Index was released by Transparency International yesterday and ranks countries based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, with Cambodia dropping five places from last year to rank near the bottom of the Asia-Pacific region. It was ranked below all Asean member states for the third year in a row.

Singapore was the top-ranked Asean state for least perceived corruption, at sixth place worldwide. Just above Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos rounded out Asean’s bottom three, at 130th and 135th place, respectively, in the 10-member regional bloc.

An analysis of the report by the authors reveals that countries’ failure to protect journalists and the obstruction of NGOs meant they were more prone to corruption. “Further analysis of the results indicates that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption,” the report reads.

The Kingdom embarked on a government crackdown in the past six months that has seen not only the dissolution of the primary opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, but also heightened pressure on NGOs and the closure of many independent media outlets.

Last year, two Radio Free Asia journalists and an independent filmmaker were arrested on “espionage” charges, the fiercely independent Cambodia Daily newspaper was forced to close after being slapped with a $6.3 million tax bill and more than a dozen independent radio stations were taken off the air.

An Amnesty International report, also released yesterday, called the attack on the opposition and NGOs the “misuse of the criminal justice system” to hamper activities ahead of the July national elections, and also pointed to the silencing of radio frequencies and shuttering of news outlets.

Preap Kol, director of Transparency International (TI) Cambodia, said it was not encouraging that Cambodia was at the bottom of Asean for the last three years, with only petty corruption related to public services seeing some improvement.

The Cambodian People’s Party-led government professed its commitment to tackling corruption after the party’s surprising near-loss in the 2013 elections, Kol said in an email, “But these improvements are much below the expectation of the general public especially when grand corruptions were not tackled effectively yet.”

He also agreed that consistent attacks on the media and NGOs, as witnessed during last year’s crackdown, hampered efforts to highlight corrupt practices.

The TI report cites data from the Committee to Protect Journalists that shows that from 2012, of the 368 journalists killed pursuing stories, 96 percent were from countries with corrupt public sectors.

The cut-off for being deemed “corrupt” is a score of 45 on the index – Cambodia has scored a consistent 21 over the past three years.

Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng could not be reached yesterday.

But ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan was quick to dismiss the rankings, saying it did not matter where Cambodia was placed, only that the country was developing, a frequent government refrain.

Development, he maintained, “reflects that there is no corruption, and that it’s not like what they said”.

Updated: 6:32am, Friday 23 February 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Cambodia's 2017 ranking. It was ranked 161st. This has been amended.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from