In separate conferences yesterday, Anticorruption Institution officials announced a “White Road” project to scrub graft from Phnom Penh’s Monivong Boulevard and pushed back the deadline for an estimated 100,000 individuals to declare their personal assets.
The “White Road” project would be aimed at teaching merchants and residents how to recognize corruption and report graft to the Anticorruption Unit, the unit’s chairman Om Yentieng told a group of NGOs during a meeting at the Anticorruption Institution in Phnom Penh. He added that the project would start in the next three weeks.
Vorn Pao, president of Independent Democratic of Informal Economic Association, said on the sidelines of yesterday’s meeting that his group planned to participate in the “White Road” project, saying that members of his group have had “problems” with traffic police along Monivong Boulevard.
The pilot education project drew an immediate criticism from the opposition SRP, however, with party spokesman Yim Sovann calling it a ridiculous idea. “I think they should concentrate more on the measures to end impunity,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, Keo Remy, spokesman for the National Council for Anticorruption, said individuals required to declare their personal assets under the anticorruption law would have until Jan 1 to do so.
The law, which was drafted and approved earlier this year, states that specified government, judicial and NGO officials “shall declare their assets and liabilities within 60 days” of the establishment of the ACU and NCA.
The bodies were established during a ceremony in mid-June, but Mr Yentieng said at least one more sub-decree had to be approved before the ACU became independent of the country’s previous anti-graft institution-meaning the postponement of the asset declaration deadline did not contradict the law.
Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project and a member of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said yesterday that the extension of declaring assets wouldn’t cause many problems. He added that it would be better for Cambodia to have a properly functioning Anticorruption Unit, than one that has trouble enforcing its own laws.
The NGOs were meeting with ACU officials yesterday to discuss allegations that residents were being overcharged when paying an annual road tax. Mr Yentieng told them that more information was needed before his unit could take action.
San Chey, of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability NGO, which participated in gathering the complaints, said he would have to talk to his group’s partners before commenting on what step the NGOs might take next.
(Additional reporting by Drew Foster)