Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said Friday that corruption is ruining Cambodia’s reputation and the country’s leaders must set a better example.
“[Officials] must not use their positions to build their own interests as it gives a bad name to the government,” Sar Kheng said in the closing speech of a five-day national anti-corruption workshop organized by the Ministry of National Assembly Relations and Inspection and the Center for Social Development.
Calling corruption a “cancer” that will eventually kill society if it is not cured, Sar Kheng said, “We must study flaws in our administration and try to identify measures to stop corruption.”
While he would not name individual officials, Sar Kheng warned that those in the government who profit from corruption must be rooted out and punished.
“Punishment can reduce the potential for corruption….If we do so the public will participate happily [in the reforms],” he said.
According to Sar Kheng, anti-corruption legislation currently being drafted will be a historic step.
Khau Menghean, secretary of state for the Ministry of National Assembly Relations and Inspections, said the draft law would be completed next week and submitted to the National Assembly.
Catherine Sumner, a legal expert for the International Development Law Institute and a participant at the workshop, said Friday that unless there is clear leadership at the top levels of government, middle and lower-ranking officials willbecome cynical at anti-corruption reform.
“Leadership, integrity and honesty for leaders and officials is a basic first step to stop corruption,” she said.
Sar Kheng said after the workshop that he did not know if high ranking officials were involved in the Chinese smuggling ring. “If it involves high ranking [officials] or not, leave it to the courts,” said Sar Kheng, who Wednesday admitted Cambodia had a serious problem.