As of January 4, nearly 8,000 of some 20,000 government officials have declared their assets and debts and submitted the relevant documents to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).
This follows an ACU notice on October 17, last year, to nearly 50 ministries and institutions in the capital and provinces, reminding officials that they were obliged to declare their assets and debts between January 1 and 30.
And in a notice on January 4, this year, the ACU said that in principle, those who declared their assets and debts in 2018 have to re-declare them every two years.
“On Saturday, January 4, the asset and debt declaration department received documents from 69 officials. As of January 4, a total of 7,791 officials have filed their asset and debt declaration documents,” the notice said.
Khoy Limhong, the assistant to the ACU, told The Post on Sunday that it has only been five days since the notice was issued, but the figures reflect the fact that some officials had declared their assets and debts much earlier.
He said the department had been receiving the documents since December last year. This year, he said, least 20,000 officials are obliged to declare their assets and debts.
“Some officials are very busy this month. Some others have the initiative of declaring them before the deadline. So, more than 5,000 came forward to declare their assets and debts before January 1,” he said.
Limhong said according to the anti-corruption laws, government officials who ranged from department directors and above and whose appointment was made by a sub-decree or royal decree are obliged to declare their assets and debts.
Members of the armed forces – from colonel and above – are also obliged to do the same.
Likewise, he said the law also requires commune and district council members to declare debts and assets when summoned by the ACU, especially when suspicions of corrupt practices are raised.
Meas Sophorn, the spokesman for the Ministry of Information whose officials are required to make their declarations in the first week of January, told The Post on Sunday that they had done so as dictated by law.
He said the declaration was necessary and also encouraged by the ministry, as well as it is a step towards stopping corruption.
“All officials from the Ministry of Information who are obliged to do so have adhered to the formalities. I have already declared my assets and debts,” he said.
The anti-corruption laws also spell out that anyone who failed to declare their assets and debts according to the deadline could face fines and imprisonment ranging from one month to a year.
Limhong said that no one had so far been fined or jailed as those who failed to make their declarations in time had informed the ACU and provided good reasons for not meeting the deadline.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the anti-corruption laws still had loopholes. As asset and debt declarations are being made in confidence, he called for the terms and conditions of the law to be re-examined so that declaration becomes public.
He further said the declaration was only a mechanism that had been set up according to the law. But other offences involving corruption were mostly in the form of abuse of power and forest crimes which continued to occur.
“We want to see asset declaration made public by amending the anti-corruption laws,” he said.