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Corruption Reform Remains Slow, Expert Says

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia.

Anti-corruption groups say Cambodia needs to do more to curb the practice. Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday that Cambodia is going the “right way,” but it needs to do more.

Corruption is no longer practiced so openly in Cambodia, a testament to changing attitudes, he said. But change is still coming “gradually,” where few people dare to speak out about corruption. Nowadays people don’t “show off” in their corruption, but changes could be happening faster, he said.

“What Cambodia is doing is in the right way, but it requires Cambodia to do more,” he said.

The government this week called on its various offices and agencies, including the military, to declared their assets to the Anti-Corruption Unit in January.

Transparency International says Cambodia has slightly improved on its Corruption Perceptions Index, “showing that the country is slowly headed in the right direction.”

However, efforts to stamp out corruption need to be sustained and strengthened,” the group said in a statement. Cambodia ranks 156th out of 175 countries ranked on the index this year. Last year it ranked 160th.

Many Cambodians remain angered by the corruption in the public sector. Callers to “Hello VOA” on Thursday said the executive branch maintains power over the legislative branch, making it hard to hold officials accountable for high-level corruption.

Preap Kol said beating corruption requires long- and short-term strategies, which include raising awareness, conducting outreach and prevention and bolstering law enforcement efforts. Countries that succeed in reducing corruption do so through political will, he said.

“Governments are open, they publish information widely online and in the media, and they have laws over access to information,” he said. “When one needs information, they give it according to the request.”

“Social accountability” is another trait of less-corrupt countries, he said. “When officials and institutions violate the law, they quickly convict them with the existing mechanisms. So, the judicial system, the governance system, and the sharing of information are compatible advantages to making those countries better than others.”