Prime Minister Hun Manet has spotlighted his government’s commitment to fighting against corruption. In order to create “clean and prosperous society”, he has vowed to stamp out any activity that may affect the public interest.

In a statement released ahead of the upcoming December 9 International Anti-Corruption Day, Manet explained that anti-graft efforts require a concerted effort among members of the public and the private sector, as well as state institutions, NGOs and political parties.

Praising previous government mandates’ achievements in this area, Manet emphasised that his government will continue the slogan left behind by former Prime Minister Hun Sen: “Look in the mirror, take a bath, clean the body, get treatment, and undergo surgery”. 

“Apply this ‘Look in the mirror’ to see if we have gotten ourselves dirty. If we have, then shower to clean ourselves up. If unwell, seek treatment. If that fails, have surgery’ regularly. By so doing, our society and individuals will maintain the cleanliness of our socioeconomic development, as well as strengthen security, public order and peace in Cambodia.

“Anything that may affect the public interest must be prevented immediately,” he said.

Cambodia became a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on September 5, 2007, following the official formation of UNCAC on December 14, 2005. The convention now has 193 member states.

Manet said that as a signatory, Cambodia has worked closely with UNCAC, including receiving UNCAC experts to review and provide recommendations on the establishment and enforcement of legal standards, as well to follow up on the Kingdom’s enforcement of UNCAC recommendations.

He added that Cambodia has made historical achievements in anti-corruption work, through the creation of the anti-corruption law in 2010, followed by the formation of two anti-corruption authorities: the National Council against Corruption (NCAC) and the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). 

Manet explained that his government will continue the reforms and strengthen governance, with a focus on the cleanliness and transparency of public administration. He highlighted five top priorities that will be enforced.

First, the preparation and enforcement of professional ethics and standard operating procedures for public administrations, along with respect for the principles of incompatibility or conflicts of interest by civil servants.

Second, the government will increase effectiveness of inspection and auditing processes, by establishing frameworks that ensure the two processes are harmonised.

It will also strengthen the management mechanisms of public service provisions, with motivation based on meritocracy, ensuring that public services are provided to the public with trust and efficiency.

“Fourth, we are continuing to improve and expand our work on education, prevention and legal enforcement against crimes of corruption,” he said.

He also stressed the need for close cooperation between the ACU and public institutions, in order to spread education and prevent corruption, as well as to be ready to review and evaluate the strategic plan of each state institution, both at the national and sub-national levels. 

“Under our slogan: ‘Serve the public interests first: provide public service with transparency, easiness, trust and increased prevention’ for 2024, I call on all state institutions, the private sector and the public to support and cooperate with the government and ACU to fulfil our historic mission of achieving the goal of a ‘clean and prosperous society’,” he concluded.

The ACU held a public event at the capital’s Koh Pich on December 6 to spread the message about the importance of anti-corruption work.

In January, Transparency International (TI) released its 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which ranked Cambodia 150th out of 180 countries, an improvement from its 157th placing in 2021.

Then-government spokesman Phay Siphan rebuffed the rankings, saying its research and data collection methods were inconsistent with international principles and that it did not reflect scientific facts about Cambodia.

ACU spokesman Soy Chanvichet also rejected the ranking, saying the body has never recognised TI reports as they are “inconsistent” with international principles and “completely contrary” to the facts.

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said he supported the government’s commitment to ensuring cleanliness in the provision of public services, and its fight against corruption. He said Cambodia has three major issues which need addressing.

“The three things that need to be addressed are the effective enforcement of the law, the curbing of corruption and a reduction of bureaucracy. This will accelerate public service provision, and ensure it is transparent and clean,” he added.

“The government’s commitment to a clean society is an excellent strategy, and I and the other civil society organisations support the prime minister’s recommendation,” he continued.