Anti-Corruption Petition Reaches Signature Goal

A petition demanding that the government pass the long-awaited anti-corruption law has fulfilled its goal of reaching more than 1 million signatures, organizers said Tuesday.

Funded by the US Agency for International Development, the One Million Signatures Campaign was started in 2006 but received more than 700,000 names since a renewed drive started in December 2007, bringing the total to more than 1,070,000.

Names have been collected from 19 provinces and municipalities and support has been strong, said Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace, one of the 11 NGOs organizing the petition.

The anti-corruption law has been in the drafting process for 15 years.

“We had no difficulty finding the signatures,” Yong Kim Eng said. “Everyone wants the anti-corruption law…. They just asked why the government has taken so long,” he said.

The anti-corruption petition reached 1 million names this month after the National Assembly closed its doors, reportedly until after the July election and without debating the long-awaited law.

Pok Puthearith, head of programs at the Khmer Institute of Democracy, said letters were sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking for an appointment to deliver the petition, which will be accompanied by a rally of 100 people.

“Corruption at the national level is a blockade to the country’s development,” he said.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said the NGOs were themselves cheating foreign donors by wasting money.

“This is shameful,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that the groups were making an unnecessary show of their work by waiting until the Assembly was out of session to deliver the petition.

Khieu Kanharith added that NGOs involved with the petition are actually reviewing the draft law at present, and that a rally is not necessary to deliver the signatures.

“If they are serious only one person can bring it,” he said.


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