Cambodia has once again been ranked as the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia by anti-graft group Transparency International.
It gave Cambodia 21 points out of 100 in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2016, the same score it has received for the past three consecutive years.
Released on Wednesday, the CPI ranked Cambodia 156th out of 176 countries surveyed.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said that the score reflected a lack of reforms. “If we made changes to the right key points, the score and rank would have changed too,” he said.
“Combating corruption was made in some sectors; education and tax collection, for example,” he added. “However, the progress in some key areas—the judicial system and public service—is still slow.”
He said the upcoming commune and national elections are a platforms for politicians to show their willingness to combat corruption in Cambodia.
The closer to zero a country scores in the CPI, the more corrupt it is perceived by the people who live in it.
Myanmar scored 28, while Laos was scored 30. Singapore holds the highest score in Asean at 84, while Denmark and New Zealand had the highest score overall at 90.
Ok Serei Sopheak, head of Transparency International Cambodia, said during the launch of the report on Wednesday that the government has accepted that corruption is a problem in Cambodia. “Otherwise, he wouldn’t put combating corruption into the ‘rectangular strategy’ of the Royal Government of Cambodia.”
Cambodia has long been viewed as a country with endemic corruption, from the lowest levels of local governance to the highest officials in power. The World Economic Forum pointed out that 10 percent of Cambodia’s GDP was in the ‘black economy’.
Nuth Romdoul, a member of parliament’s Investigation and Anti-Corruption Commission, said: “The most corrupt cases are now happening at the sub-national level.”