Despite the oaths taken by officials from the newly formed Anticorruption Unit that they will fight graft, the ACU will probably still be perceived as ineffectual – in the words of an opposition Sam Rainsy Party spokesman: “oaths to preserve territorial integrity, to fight corruption, to protect national assets – these are not enforced in practice....”
As well, a senior investigator for the local human rights group Adhoc asserted that as long as ACU officials are members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, it would be impossible to eliminate corruption in the Kingdom.
In interviews with the Post, students and grassroots activists who live on shoestring budgets expressed little hope that the newly approved anti-corruption law, as implemented by the ACU, will completely rid the Kingdom of corruption.
Too many instances of corruption are found in almost every government sector, but graft is especially problematic in areas related to public services, for example medical treatment, the judiciary, land management, traffic regulation, and even education and employment.
Because of this, corruption has become a part of the Cambodian identity – something that is known by all Cambodians and even abroad.
We, Cambodian citizens, really appreciate and support such unprecedented legislation as the Anticorruption Law.
But as I said before, we are worried because we know that many laws exist only on paper, especially those that are likely not to have any direct benefit for [government officials].
Many existing laws seem simply to be tools to serve the interests of government officials, rather than to work for Cambodia’s citizens or in the national interest.
We don’t want this condition to exist, but corruption has already prevailed in many cases. Now we are waiting to see how effective, transparent and just ACU officials are in executing this new Anticorruption Law, regardless of what oaths they’ve taken or vows that they have pledged.
Most cases of graft are typically buried in public entities for reasons such as: (1) insufficient salary for lower-ranking civil servants, (2) ambition and greed in the ranks of senior officials, (3) individualism rather than nationalism and, (4) networking by public officials for private business interests.
I know that these problems are not unique to Cambodia, but occur also in other developing countries.
In order to effectively implement the Anticorruption Law ... I support whatever ideas and procedures that are proposed by ACU, such as a drop box where people can lodge criticisms, a website, a property-declaration policy.
We roughly 14 million citizens are keeping our eyes on the ACU’s performance and are waiting to see its effectiveness and achievements. We do hope at least some changes will prevail.
Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.