Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Taking corruption to school

Taking corruption to school

Taking corruption to school

Less than a week after a leading international corruption index found Cambodia’s public sector to have the worst perceived level of corruption in ASEAN, the prime minister has announced a plan to add anti-corruption education into the national school curriculum. But unions, the opposition and anti-corruption advocates say what is far more urgent is stronger enforcement of anti-corruption laws.

In an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday and released ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day events today, the government pledges its commitment to fight corruption and urges the Ministry of Education and the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to embed anti-corruption education in the school curriculum by the next academic year.

“Corruption is the main cause of social injustice,” it reads. In it, the premier also calls on authorities at all levels and the private sector to “join together to clean out corruption to achieve the national development goals”.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, scoffed at that idea yesterday, calling anti-corruption education programs mere window-dressing by the government.

“What is important is the strong enforcement of the anti-corruption law and whether or not the ACU dares to investigate the corruption of the prime minister,” he said.

“Those who commit corruption are not normal people. It is not those who do not have any position. It is committed by the prime minister or ministers.”

But Preap Kol, executive director at Transparency International Cambodia, the global watchdog which recently ranked Cambodia 160th out of 177 nations in its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), said the government’s message was encouraging.

“This is not a new message, but I hope that the government leaders will hear this message more clearly and, more importantly, take the message into action by developing concrete action plans and measures to combat corruption sooner rather than later,” he said.

Kol added that the announcement was the first time the prime minister had issued an official message for International Anti-Corruption Day and that Transparency International had been working with the ACU to develop the educational curriculum.

“The work on education I believe is very important, but not very urgent.… While doing that, the government should pay more attention [towards] prevention and law enforcement.”

Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said anti-corruption education would be beneficial in the long-term, but slammed the ruling party-led government for failing to target graft within its own ranks.

“The ACU does not have a real willingness to prevent it effectively, because those who commit corruption are senior people in the [Cambodian People’s Party] ranks.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the Kingdom had anti-corruption “laws, mechanisms and policy” and that the purpose of educational programs was to help Cambodians work together to combat it.

“Corruption happens in every part of society. NGOs and the private sector as well,” he said.

“We have to be together. We don’t go with who is wrong and who is right, we go with what is wrong and what is right,” he said.


  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth