The share of the Cambodian public required to pay bribes in 2007 was among the highest in the world, according to a report released this week by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International.
The dismal findings from Transparency International, which were made public in Berlin on December 6 , cap a continuing stream of reports and polls that single out corruption as Cambodia’s preeminent social problem.
Inspection Minister Mem Sam An declined to comment on the report December 7 however leading CPP lawmaker Nguon Nhel said the finding was a gross exaggeration.
Of 1,016 Cambodian people surveyed in face-to-face interviews over 12 days in September, 72 percent claimed to have paid a bribe to obtain a service in the previous 12 months, according to TI’s 2007 Global Corruption Barometer.
That score was the highest of 10 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed and the second highest of 60 countries worldwide. Only Cameroon had a higher share of the public, 79 percent, reporting the payment of bribes.
According to the report, 44 percent of respondents in the Philippines, 14 percent in Vietnam and one percent in Japan also claimed to have paid bribes.
Cambodians singled out the courts, police, political parties and tax authorities as being the most corrupt institutions, according to TI.
Deputy National Assembly President Nguon Nhel said December 7 that Cambodia’s result on TI’s report was out of all proportion.
“I agree that there is a small percentage of corruption,” he said. “I don’t agree with a report that puts Cambodia at number two of 60 countries.”
The latest TI findings corroborated those of TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which in September ranked Cambodia 162nd of 180 countries worldwide.
A poll released last month by the International Republican Institute found that Cambodians described corruption as their overriding social concern.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann, chair of the Assembly’s anticorruption commission, said December 7 that it is necessary to sound the alarm about the “cancer” of corruption eating away at Cambodia. The government’s failure to seriously tackle the corruption issue has been no accident, he said.
“They can do it but the problem is they do not want to do it,” Yim Sovann added.