Anti-graft group Transparency International is launching a project to encourage young people to combat corruption.
Cambodia consistently places towards the bottom of global anti-corruption rankings, coming 150th out of 168 counties in TI’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.
More than 60 high school and university students took part in a workshop to launch the project on June 30, which aimed to help participants identify and challenge the authorities on corruption issues.
Khon Sonita, 21, a University of Cambodia student studying international relations, said: “I think this workshop offers me a great chance to meet my fellow TI youth leaders and from there we can discuss the plan and things we can do to next, because we learn what is integrity, transparency and proposal writing.”
In April, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned civil servants they would be prosecuted if they gave the government a bad name after a series of high-profile arrests of officials, including the country’s ambassador to South Korea.
Venerable Yean Piseth, 27, who studies management at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, said he had learned a lot from the workshop.
“I learned more knowledge of anti-corruption. Before, I had no idea what kind of situations or shape or form corruption tiers. However, after coming to this workshop, I have learned more about how to report and how to spot corruption. I know what is integrity, transparency, this seminar taught me a lot.”
Similar workshops have been held for government officials since 2013.
Pech Pisey, TI’s director of programs, said the organization had trained an estimated 20,000 young people across the country since 2013.
“We conduct workshops to let them exchange ideas on addressing social issues, and to plan more for the next three years.”
Tim Malay, president of the Cambodian Youth Network, an NGO which educates young people on advocacy, good governance, the environment and human rights, said that if more young people stood up to corruption things would gradually change for the better.
“If some youths, or any youth in Cambodia start to take a look at injustices in their community, that community will be improved. At the same time, the young people will have justice for themselves. And the social problems will be heard and paid attention to.”