Two months after the anticorruption law sailed through the National Assembly and Senate, the ruling CPP on Tuesday staunchly defended its anti-graft legislation and called critics of the law irresponsible.
In a statement published on the party’s website, the CPP outlined government plans to promote awareness of the law among the public, civil service, armed forces and private sector.
“The Royal Government’s strategy in the fight against corruption focuses on three essentially inter-related elements—education for the prevention, law enforcement and suppression of corruption offenses with massive participation and support,” the statement said.
The statement also condemned the SRP, the UN and NGOs for either criticizing the law itself or for taking issue with the short timeframe allowed to review the law’s contents before it was debated in the CPP-dominated Assembly.
The draft law was made available to lawmakers six days before parliamentary debate started in March, prompting civil society organizations and the UN country team to issue statements recommending that the government provide more time for people to consider the law’s details.
“Some in ill-intent circles and opposition circles have criticized and accused the draft law to be of shortcomings and that it would not be able to protect the people’s interest,” the CPP statement said.
“They criticized the law as lacking clarity while interpreting various points of the draft law to their ill-intent positions.
“Moreover, representatives of the opposition parties walked out of the session of the National Assembly that was in motion to adopt the law. This has clearly illustrated lack of responsibility from their parts for national and people interests.
“At the same time UN [country team] has issued an embarrassing statement seen to have exceeded its mandate and to interfere in the Cambodian internal affairs.”
After the release of the UN Country Team’s statement on the anticorruption law in March, the government threatened to expel UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick if the UN made any more statements that “interfered” in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday criticized the CPP’s statement and questioned why the party would continue to berate the UN so long after the fact.
“The UN has much experience dealing with corrupt countries around the world. They just want Cambodia to be more transparent,” Mr Sovann said.
Mr Sovann also said the Cambodian public does not believe the anti-graft law will stop corruption.
“The next step forward is for the people themselves. The people have to think about this when they go to the next election and consider what leader they think has the real political will to fight corruption,” Mr Sovann said.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said his party’s statement was aimed at scaring corrupt officials.
“This is a warning to halt corruption,” Mr Yeap said. “I have confidence that corrupt officials, they must stop corruption soon.”
Om Yentieng, chairman of the Council of Minister’s anticorruption unit, which is to be disbanded once the Anticorruption Institution called for under the new law is created, said yesterday that the CPP statement reflected the party’s national platform for fighting corruption.
“The CPP national platform is showing the government to go on the right way for providing social justice,” Mr Yentieng said,
Mr Yentieng said that his unit had achieved “tremendous achievements” over the past two years but said he could not discuss them on the phone with a reporter. When asked if the anticorruption unit was currently investigating any officials for corruption, he said, “we don’t talk before we take actions.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid Cambodian Defenders Project, was one of the civil society members who criticized the short time frame afforded to lawmakers, NGOs and the general public in the lead up to the Assembly debate on the anti-graft law.
Yesterday, he said that his argument criticized Parliament’s actions, not the government or CPP.
“I have no comment against the CPP, I want the Parliament to be responsible to ensure that civil society is given time to analyze and comment on laws after they are handed from the government to the parliament.”