The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt.
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”.
Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the bottom of a list that ranks 180 countries according to their perceived corruption. This year, Cambodia ranked 162nd, dropping one place from last year’s ranking and coming just above Afghanistan and North Korea.
“The government does not care about this report. It doesn’t have any legal value to us. We haven’t seen their methodology,” Siphan said.
“Corruption is not easy to see. To assess the level of corruption here, they should work with the Anti-Corrupt Unit. If they do so, we will take immediate action [to stop any case of corruption],” Siphan said.
TI released its 25th 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) on Thursday. The report is based on the assessment of experts and business executives, and gives countries a score of 0 to 100, with 0 being “very corrupt” and 100 “very clean”.
This year, the Kingdom received a score of 20 – the same as last year.
“Cambodia’s result indicates that although Cambodia has made some progress in certain areas such as resource mobilisation and improvement of local public services, the progress has not changed the overall perception of experts and business executives especially with grand and political corruptions.
“Key structural and systematic reforms – in particular with regard to strengthening rule of law and justice – have made little to no progress,” TI said in a press release.
Siphan rejected the report and said Cambodia is strengthening media freedom and human rights. Cambodia was open and accepted civic participation online and on social media, he stressed.
“People can even report their problems directly to the prime minister. The economy is booming and revenue from tax is increasing. The report is just an excuse to justify its presence here,” Siphan said.
TI Cambodia acting director Pech Pisey said the Kingdom’s score was low compared to other Asean members.
“Cambodia has made some positive steps to address sectoral corruption which has yielded some encouraging results. For instance, petty corruption has decreased and revenue from tax collection has increased.
“However, if grand and political corruptions are not properly addressed, they will continue contributing to social injustice and development risks,” Pisey said.
He said the government should make some amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law, enact a law on access to information, strengthen the rule of law, enable civil society organisations and the media to join the fight against corruption, establish accountability mechanisms, and promote transparency.
In the report, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia were deemed less corrupt through their scores (from 47 to 53; 33 to 37, and 38 to 40 respectively).
The Philippines was the only Asean country that was deemed more corrupt compared to the previous year, with its score going from 36 to 34. Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia kept their same scores as last year.
While Cambodia scored the lowest in Southeast Asia, Singapore was ranked the fourth cleanest country in the world, corruption-wise.