The long anticipated anti-corruption bill received government approval Friday and is expected to soon go to the National Assembly for debate.
“We will send the [anti-corruption] draft law to the National Assembly [this] week,” said Leng Peng Long, who sits on the Council of Jurists within the Council of Ministers.
“We have no intention of keeping it here. We need it to be approved, but we need to correct and add some points, and later the prime minister will sign it before it is sent to the National Assembly,” he said.
International donors complained in June 2002 about the government’s lack of progress in fighting corruption. World Bank Country Director Ian Porter said at last year’s donors meeting that if the government did not make significant progress, donor “support will not be at the same level.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen promised donors at the time that the government would have an anti-corruption law ready for debate by June 2003.
A statement issued by the Council of Ministers on Friday said the law is intended to prevent and eradicate corruption and promote effective, good governance.
“This law is very important for our country and people because corruption has happened for years,” said Ok Socheat, a Funcinpec parliamentarian. “I have not seen the draft, but it will get to the National Assembly and we will amend it [to meet] international standards.”
He added that Funcinpec is pushing to impose term limits on the office of prime minister, a move that would require amending the Constitution.
“When the law says that a prime minister can take only two terms, it will help eliminate corruption and dictatorship because [the prime minister] will worry about being accused [of crimes] after he is out of power,” Ok Socheat said.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay sounded more pessimistic on the anti-corruption legislation. “This law is under the control of the current government. The government creates it, and it protects the government,” he said.