Prime Minister Hun Sen has selected Om Yentieng, head of the Council of Ministers’ anticorruption unit, to be the country’s first official anticorruption chief, Mr Yentieng said yesterday.
The SRP criticized the seemingly lateral move, saying that Mr Yentieng’s appointment under the recently passed anticorruption law indicated a lack of political will to seriously tackle corruption.
Mr Yentieng said that King Norodom Sihamoni officially appointed him nearly two weeks ago as chairman of the government’s new Anticorruption Unit, which will form part of the National Anticorruption Institution. The institution is to be made up of the unit and the National Council for Anticorruption.
Under the recently promulgated anticorruption law, the unit will be charged with investigating all instances of corruption in Cambodia.
The anticorruption law states that the unit, among other functions, will “investigate and monitor all corruption offenses in government, public as well as private institutions, and to take actions according to procedures in force.”
As chairman of the unit, Mr Yentieng will also be automatically named as a member of the council, the body that will oversee and advise the unit.
Mr Yentieng said that King Sihamoni signed off on his appointment after Prime Minister Hun Sen recommended him for the top post—as per the procedure detailed in the anticorruption law.
“The King has appointed me to head the new anticorruption unit,” he confirmed, vowing also to work hard to fight corruption.
“I will read the law and implement the law,” adding that he would work with international organizations to implement the law effectively.
“I will participate in improving the economy, justice and the rule of law,” he said. “This is the real mission of the anticorruption unit.”
When told of Mr Yentieng’s appointment last night, SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said there would be no change in the fight against corruption.
Corruption did not diminish when Mr Yentieng was president of the Council of Minister’s anticorruption unit, Mr Sovann said, adding that he didn’t expect much to change when Mr Yentieng takes over his new position.
“There were no big achievements and the corruption only spread,” Mr Sovann added.
News of Mr Yentieng’s appointment came yesterday as the Senate announced that it has started its own hunt for a candidate to occupy a chair at the yet-to-be created anticorruption council.
Senate Secretary Oum Sarith said that the candidate search had started in earnest.
“We are looking for a candidate according to the anticorruption law,” Mr Sarith said, noting that the chosen senator would be voted for in a secret ballot of all senators.
The Senate’s announcement called for a candidate that is no older than 45, had 10 years of parliamentary experience, good ethics and had finished a higher education course.
Mr Sovann said he did not believe that the CPP-dominated Senate would vote for any independent candidate.
“The Senate will choose a candidate that is a CPP member,” he said, adding that the National Assembly should change the anticorruption law to allow for more independent members on the council.