News / Asia

Cambodia Passes First Law to Combat Graft

Son Chhay, a legislator with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party
Son Chhay, a legislator with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party
Robert Carmichael

Cambodia's parliament has passed the country's first law to combat corruption, but critics say it is flawed, and could entrench rather than end corruption.

After 15 years of trying, Cambodia now has a law against corruption, which is a scourge in this impoverished nation.

Parliament passed the legislation on Thursday. Among other things, it imposes prison sentences of up to 15 years on officials convicted of taking bribes. It also requires politicians, military personnel, police officers, judges, and civil servants to disclose their wealth to a new anti-corruption body. Leaders of civic action groups also must report their wealth.

The government calls the new law an important tool in fighting corruption.

But many opposition politicians and civic activists are critical.

Yong Kim Eng is from the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, a collection of organizations fighting graft.

He says that since those serving on the anti-corruption body will be appointed by the ruling party and will report to the prime minister, there is the risk of political interference.

"Also we have questioned a lot about that as well - about independence, about what it will be accountable for. We want to have enough independence that this body can take action, can reduce the corruption in Cambodia," he said.

Son Chhay, a legislator with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, fears the law will be misused.

"Because the prime minister and the deputy minister of the Council of Ministers will have full control over who can be prosecuted. The target will be the opposition and civil society, or the group of businesses who are not willing to support the government, who are critical of the government. So they will be able to find something there to prosecute them," he said.

Critics complain the government ignored requests for the public to have a say in drafting the new law. Son Chhay says that among the changes the ruling party refused to consider was making financial disclosures public.

A government spokesman responded to the criticism by saying that the opposition will have the opportunity to propose amendments in the future, as with any law.  

Corruption is a serious problem here. Last year, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia said that $500 million is lost to graft each year, a comment that angered Phnom Penh. And the international anti-corruption group Transparency International ranks Cambodia as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

On Friday the U.S. Embassy welcomed the passage of the law and expressed hope that rules to implement it will "clarify and enhance" its aim of combating corruption in accordance with international standards.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid