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Courage Needed To Fight Corruption, Advocate Says

Preap Kol, head of Transparency International Cambodia.
Preap Kol, head of Transparency International Cambodia.
Cambodians need to be more courageous in challenging endemic corruption, a development expert says.

Preap Kol, head of Transparency International Cambodia, told “Hello VOA” last week that the more people challenge corruption, the more likely it is they will free themselves from it.

“We also help change our society and prevent others from falling victim to corruption,” he said.

Cambodia remains one of the most-corrupt countries in the world, losing an estimated $1.7 billion annually to the practice. But Cambodians are also tolerant of the deeply rooted problem. Rarely do they challenge authorities when faced with corruption.

“I must admit, it’s not an easy thing to do,” Preap Kol said. “But if we have our own principles, I’m sure we can avoid paying or accepting bribes.”

Callers to “Hello VOA” said corruption tolerance is now a part of the culture.

One caller, Chorn, who now works in Malaysia, called to say he had to take bribes in Cambodia in order to pay off his superiors, so that he could retain his job.

People can pay up to $10,000 or $20,000 to get a government position, he said.

Preap Kol said the best way to defeat the practice is for Cambodians to live “in dignity” in their daily lives.

“We must put the value of ourselves above that of money and other materials,” he said.

People must dare to push the government to get rid of corrupt practices, he said. If it can’t, people have the right to choose a better government.

“The people are the evaluators of the government’s performance,” he said.