Senior Officials Refuse To Declare Their Assets

The long-awaited Anti-Corruption Law, which will require government officials to declare their personal assets in public, will be submitted to the Council of Ministers by 2006, Minister of National As­sembly and Senate Relations and In­spection Men Sam An an­nounced recently.

But the disclosure of as­sets by the country’s leaders and elected representatives is likely to be a controversial issue judging by a straw poll this week of officials who were asked if they would volunteer such information willingly.

According to Dianne Cullinane, an­ti-corruption adviser for Pact Cambodia—the NGO coordinating the Inspection Ministry’s draft an­ti-corruption law review—public consultation on the draft should start in August and will in­clude publication of the law. Com­ments from the public will be ac­cepted, she said.

Cambodia Defenders Project Executive Director Sok Sam Oeun said he believes the National Assembly will ratify the law by the end of the year.

“The law will go ahead, but a problem will arise over the establishment of the Supreme National Council of Anti-Corruption and its Secretariat,” he said Tuesday.

The asset declaration provision will be in the final law, but some government officials will not be hap­py about it, Sok Sam Oeun said .

“They don’t want to [disclose] be­­cause they don’t want to be known for being rich from corruption,” he said.

Regarding voluntary disclosure of assets, Minister Men Sam An said Monday that the draft law has not yet been submitted to the Coun­cil of Ministers let alone promulgated into law.

At this point, Men Sam An said she would not volunteer information about her own assets but ad­ded, “I don’t have any wealth to hide.”

Agriculture Minister Chan Sar­un also said Monday that he would not disclose his assets until required to by the government.

“I am under the government, so if the government requires me to de­­clare, I will do it,” he said.

Environment Minister Mok Mar­­eth said he would declare as­sets if required.

“I am not afraid because the pro­perties are mine,” he added.

Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said that mandatory asset declarations would be a violation of a government official’s human rights.

“We don’t support this crazy and anarchic idea,” he said of the voluntary declaration proposal.

“I will only be prepared [to submit a declaration] to the authority that is approved by the government,” he added.

Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said opposition party members were taking a pro-active approach to the anti-corruption law and are preparing written declarations of their assets to be made public.

Voluntarily declaring his assets, Eng Chhay Eang said that, in addition to his $2,000 monthly salary as a parliamentarian, his wife earns $3,000 to $5,000 as a gold merchant and money-changer.

He also owns one apartment in Phnom Penh, land near national Route 4 and land in Siem Reap town.

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