Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fraud found in demobilization process

Fraud found in demobilization process

Fraud found in demobilization process

A World Bank evaluation has noted serious problems in the $42 million donor-driven

demobilization program. Some of those flagged for demobilization were 'ghost' soldiers,

while genuine soldiers who wanted to leave were paying their commanders to get on

the list for the second phase. Additionally, none of those stood down in the first

phase had as yet received their reintegration packages.

"There is a growing body of evidence, including the findings of several field

visits by Bank missions, that suggests ... some of those on the database have never

served in the armed forces or received salaries from the military, and others have

served in the armed forces but do not receive their whole salaries," the report

states.

The admission came in a summary of mission findings published for an October 22 meeting

between World Bank officials and the Council for the Demobilization of Armed Forces

(CDAF), the government body that oversees the demobilization program.

Critics of the program, which is mainly funded by foreign donors, have frequently

accused military officers of padding the lists of those under their command, allowing

them to pocket the initial $240 severance paid to each demobilized soldier.

The Post understands that donors have not been able to cross-check the database used

by CDAF with that used by the Ministry of Defense. The report seems to confirm this,

noting that it was "not possible to make any further independent or definitive

check of the extent of this issue".

The World Bank's team leader, Gillian Brown, said proper implementation of the program

was vital if it was to achieve its broader aims.

"This is the essential piece to ensure that the project achieves what it is

supposed to: transferring funds that had been used for military expenditures towards

much-needed social spending, and helping demobilized soldiers and their families

lead more productive lives," she told the Post.

Opposition MP Son Chhay, a frequent critic of the demobilization program, applauded

the report for recognizing corruption.

"I'm glad they know they made mistakes but what they're going to do about it

is another question," he said. "The whole process has to be revised and

reconsidered."

The Bank called for better communication to make the nature of the demobilization

program clear, and said the non-political nature of the scheme should be stressed

particularly given the general election scheduled for July 27, 2003.

"As this is an election year," it stated, "the communications strategy

should also include a campaign to explain that the project is funded by donors for

the people of Cambodia and is not linked to any political party."

CDAF head Svay Sitha said he could not comment until he had spoken to his superiors.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the