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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More