In the first event held at the new Anticorruption Institution in Phnom Penh yesterday, Anticorruption Unit Chairman Om Yentieng said that roughly 100,000 people would be forced to declare their assets and debts by November.
Presenting a summary of a three-day strategic workshop held last week, Mr Yentieng also said plans were under way to establish a 24-hour “hotline” telephone service for people to call and make complaints about corruption.
Under the Anticorruption Law, a list of political, government, judicial and civil society leaders have 60 days to declare their assets and liabilities to the Anticorruption Unit from the time operations are formalized by a sub-decree, which is currently being drafted.
“We will make the declaration of assets [required] before November,” Mr Yentieng said yesterday, adding that Anticorruption Unit officials were currently drafting the declaration form to be handed to government institutions.
“There will be about 100,000 people [required to] declare their assets,” he said.
Mr Yentieng said the new hotline would encourage more people to make complaints about corruption. Currently, complaints can be dropped in white boxes in several locations around the country, but the Anticorruption Unit chief admitted yesterday that only a handful of such tip-offs have been received.
“Last week, we got three anonymous complaints,” he said.
“We don’t have the hotline…yet, but we are preparing it” to be operational soon, he said.
Mr Yentieng also defended the Anticorruption Law’s provision forprosecuting people who make false complaints to the Anticorruption Unit, saying that he believed the figure would represent less than 1 percent of those who lodge complaints.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent of complainants are truly complainants…. If we do not protect our sources, it is like we destroyed our own pond, from which we will not have any more water to drink in the future,” he said.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann, who has previously complained about the lack of protection for whistleblowers in the Anticorruption Law, said yesterday that he hoped Mr Yentieng was right.
“If it is true, then I am very happy, but if we look at the past we see many victims of the unfair rulings of Cambodian courts,” he said.
Former Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption Deputy Commissioner Tony Kwok, who has assisted the Anticorruption Unit staff members in two recent training workshops sponsored by USAID and anti-corruption NGO Pact, said yesterday that the new graft-fighting body deserved support.
“In my opinion as an expert I think the [anticorruption] law is good,” Mr Kwok said. “They have got a very comprehensive strategy. It is important that everybody, including the media, should give their total support to the ACU so that they can do a good start.”