PHNOM PENH - Cambodia remains a county whose institutions lack transparency and accountability, putting it amid the world’s 20 worst countries again this year.
Only 18 other countries were ranked worse, in both 2011 and 2012. Cambodia’s overall index ranking improved, from 164th to 157th, but that’s because a number of countries tied each other in the bottom rungs.
Cambodia’s ranking puts it in the company of Burma, Laos and North Korea, the only other Asian countries in the bottom 20. Other countries that far down on the index include Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan.
Cambodia scored 22 a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 going to countries perceived by their citizens as “very clean” and zero going to the “very corrupt.”
Rath Sophoan, chairman for Transparency International Cambodia, said the score indicates a slight improvement for Cambodia, but he said it remains a “highly corrupt country.”
“Fighting corruption requires unwavering political will and the determination of the government,” he said. This includes building legal frameworks and mechanisms that minimize the opportunity for corruption and that are consistently enforced, he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the enforcement that matters.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the rankings, although they come from a well-established international watchdog. He pointed to a separate survey, in which 80 percent of Cambodians interviewed said they thought the country was moving “in the right direction.”
However, Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said corruption continues to hamper Cambodia’s development, costing anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion in lost revenue.