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US Asean Ambassador Encourages Strong Law, Low Corruption in Region

The US ambassador to Asean met with other regional leaders in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, encouraging them to fight against corruption and strengthen the rule of law in their countries.

Ambassador David Carden addressed about 70 officials from 10 Asean countries as part of a seminar on legal information networks in the region.

Decreased corruption and strengthened law can help draw investors to a country, Carden said.

“If outside investment comes from outside of Asean, or within Asean, Cambodia has to protect those investors,” he said. In the US, he said, “we respect people who come in to invest in our country and create jobs for our citizens, and we will protect them in the court.”

Asean groups nearly half a billion people together under 10 countries, which are seeking great economic unification. But observers say some member countries are facing a challenging gap between the rich and poor, and that different countries have differing levels of legal structure.

Ang Vong Vathana, Cambodia’s justice minister, said Asean’s members are better cooperating legally, but they have not yet fully developed an integrated legal system.