Cambodia’s score in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index has slipped by one point placing the Kingdom 161 out of 180 countries surveyed, the same position it had the previous year.
TI yesterday ranked the Kingdom as highly corrupt with a score of 20, placing it on the lowest spot when compared to Asean countries and near the bottom when compared to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Singapore remains on top of the list, even gaining one point, moving from sixth in 2017 to third last year. Singapore remains as one of the world’s cleanest countries.
The Philippines is the only country in the region to gain two additional points, while Vietnam is the only country to drop by two points.
The report noted that Cambodia’s democracy points dropped significantly from 19 out of 100 in 2017 to only 12 out of 100 last year.
Preap Kol, executive director of TI Cambodia, yesterday said the Kingdom needs to speed up its fundamental and structural reforms in order to address issues related to democracy and corruption.
“The CPI 2018 makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy, which encompasses strong accountability systems, and a successful fight against public sector corruption,” Mr Kol said. “Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations and integrity systems are weak.
Vong Socheata, chair of TI Cambodia’s board of directors, yesterday said Cambodia’s results are indicative of efforts made to reform the sectors of education, corporate registration, revenue collection and basic public services.
Ms Socheata noted however that this progress has yet to change the perception of experts and those in the business community.
“If grand and political corruption is not addressed properly, corruption will continue to create social injustice and development risks for Cambodia,” she said.
In a press release, TI noted that in the past few years, the media, civil society organisations and democratic institutions were unable to serve as checks-and-balances against corruption.
Om Yentieng, chief of the Anti-Corruption Unit, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday dismissed TI’s report and called it a misinterpretation of the reality in Cambodia.
“Aside from a UN report, no report can be trusted,” Mr Siphan said. “I think in terms of fighting corruption, the government has proven, through its achievements, that transparency and accountability have increased in the public sector.”
He also said the Kingdom has garnered the trust of foreign investors due to trust and increasing confidence that corruption is progressively being rooted out of the Kingdom.
“I am sure that we did the right thing in battling corruption,” Mr Siphan said. “We will continue to cooperate with relevant institutions to further address this issue.”
TI Cambodia yesterday called on government officials to step up on its reforms by amending the Anti-Corruption Law, especially when it comes to articles regulating asset declaration.
It also said that adopting regulations that promote public access to information and the protection of whistleblowers will help the country in the long run.
TI Cambodia said the authorities need to strengthen institutions responsible for the promotion of the rule of law.