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Prime minister says anti-corruption law not a 'magic pill'

Prime minister says anti-corruption law not a 'magic pill'

Speaking at the Business Roundtable in Siem Reap, Hun Sen says the law will only be introduced once the penal code is in place.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen told an international conference in Siem Reap on Monday that the long-delayed anti-corruption law would not be introduced before the penal code was in place.

He said the penal code had been approved by the Council of Ministers and would next be presented to the National Assembly for approval. He said the law would follow soon after but gave no concrete timeline as to when it might be introduced.

Speaking at the Business Roundtable - a gathering of government officials, business leaders and investors - Hun Sen told delegates that the anti-corruption law would not solve the problem of graft on its own.

"The anti-corruption law will not be a magic pill that will eliminate corruption," he said. "But the government does not need to wait for this law on anti-corruption because punishment of those who act illegally is already written into all issued laws."

The introduction of the law has long been a priority for NGOs and donors to the Kingdom. A recent report by the umbrella group NGO Forum on Cambodia complained that there had been even less of an effort to combat corruption in 2008 than there had been the previous year.

Benefits of the law

Sek Borisoth, director of the anti-corruption program at the NGO Pact,  said the law would only be meaningful if it was enforced.

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, said transparency and accountability were essential in democratic countries. Proper enforcement of an anti-corruption law, he said, is necessary for combating graft.

"All of our leaders must have the will to ensure this law is effectively enforced," he said. "An anti-corruption law is very important in helping to change a poor country into a developed country."

"We have seen that those countries that have cut corruption by 70 to 80 percent always develop and progress," he said. "When we have an anti-corruption law, we will have justice in society."