Annual Polygraph To Test Anticorruption Unit Officials

A yearly polygraph test will be used to assess whether officials from the newly created Anticorruption Unit are engaging in corrupt activities, ACU Chairman Om Yentieng said yesterday.

Speaking at a Cambodia-Korea-Transparency International symposium on anticorruption activities in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Yentieng said a range of measures would be introduced to ensure that ACU officials acted professionally at all times.

“All investigation officials will be supervised by a small unit that will monitor them…to make sure they are not corrupted,” Mr Yentieng said. “Staff will have to [be assessed] by a polygraph annually…. The machine will question whether they are lying or not.”

Mr Yentieng also that ACU officials would be forced to declare where they went to lunch and dinner and who they met. “We have a small secret unit to monitor them and they must declare their conflicts of interest,” he said. “They cannot go anywhere…having food or eating with anyone without our authorization.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the symposium yesterday, however, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the measures announced by Mr Yentieng did not improve the public’s confidence in the ACU.

“I think it is important that our government must start clearly saying what they are going to do to actually fight corruption,” Mr Chhay said. “For example, they should be saying what they are going to do to clean up the public service…. There are a lot of ghost officials on the payroll.”

The government is currently tallying the number of civil servants who do not show up to work. After counting about 20 percent of the workforce in May, a Council of Ministers officials said about 2,000 “ghost workers” had already been identified.

Mr Chhay said Mr Yentieng’s concerns about monitoring his staff would be better directed at informing the public about how the staff were chosen in the first place.

“The procedure of how we recruit staff is not clear…. There is no transparency,” he said. You have to be clear with the public about how you recruit staff and what their backgrounds and qualification are before we can move to the next stage of making them committed to doing their job properly.”

The Anticorruption Institution-comprising the ACU and the National Council for Anticorruption-were set up after the government’s long-awaited Anticorruption Law sailed through the National Assembly and Senate in March.

Yesterday’s symposium, titled “Fighting Corruption to Achieve Development,” was hosted by several agencies, including Transparency International and the Korean Association for Corruption Studies.

Transparency International representative Kulan Amin said she was pleased to see that a government representative had attended the symposium and that a regional exchange between Cambodia and Korea was developing.

Honorary South Korean congressman Shin-Bom Lee told the symposium that Cambodia could take heed of the lessons learned by South Korea in its fight against institutionalized corruption.

‘With the blooming of democracy, South Korea has faced many new challenges, but has successfully overcome them…. I am convinced that Cambodia can achieve far greater successes in the future,” he said.

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