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Cambodia: Anti-Corruption Advocacy of Bloggers

In denoting the International Anti-Corruption Day, annually celebrated on December 9th, the United Nation Office on Drug and Crime posted:

“Attitudes on corruption are changing. As recently as ten years ago, corruption was only whispered about. Today there are signs of growing intolerance toward corruption and more and more politicians and chief executives are being tried and convicted”

This phenomenon is reflected to some degree in Cambodia due to the fact that there are many discussions and awareness raising on corruption.

Borin who originated from Sihanouk Ville opened a critical discussion on the government’s claim that “Corruption is every where, even in the developed countries.” He accepted that corruption exists everywhere and varies in degree. While his blog’s commentators offered that there is the situation that corruption can be either acceptable or unacceptable, Borin resisted the fallacy of justification of corruption.

“Corruption is every where, but there are places that it is worse, and places that are better. So to say, a government is good enough because corruption is everywhere, is not acceptable. To say you’re good you must be ranked among the cleanest, not the dirtiest. To me there’s no acceptable corruption,” said Borin.

While acknowledging that corruption is hard to eliminate, Borin suggested that there must be an effort to reduce the degree of existing corruption, so that Cambodia will be ranked better in terms of anti-corruption.

KI Media recently posted a short article on the release of Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perception Index (CPI):

“Cambodia's rank moved to 158 out of a total of 180, a slight improvement over 2008 when Cambodia ranked 166. Among ASEAN countries, Cambodia ranks lowest along with Laos.”

Such ranking improvement signals a positive reform in the country while the Prime Minister Hun Sen also publicly announced that the long-awaited Anti-Corruption Law will be passed by December 11, which is apparently to coincidence with the celebration of the Anti-Corruption Day.

“I officially announce that the anti-corruption law will not be delayed anymore,” he said. “Within this year, the Cabinet will pass the long-awaited anti-corruption law,” reported VOA.

It is maybe also contributed by many efforts of the civil society movement ranging from the NGOs working group on anti-corruption to individuals who keep raising public awareness and advocating for the rule of law respect and “say no to corruption.” There is also an emerging blog advocacy initiated by more than 40 local NGOs with the funding from USAID through Pact-Corruption. This blog, with technical support from Open Forum, appears in both Khmer and English language under the name “Kampuchea Deumbey Pheap Saat Saam” or “Corruption-Free Cambodia.” Reading from the blog’s project, it says:

“The website, in short, is the important means to pave the way for the people, an information source to provide knowledge about the impacts of corruption, and an opportunity to all interested people to participate in the struggle to alleviate corruption and promote integrity.”

In his blog, Morn Vutha, a blogger and Project Coordinator of Open Forum of Cambodia, also launched a campaign to introduce the above Saatsam website with the appeal to the public to participate and give him feedback on blog design, so that it can better serve the public.

Similarly, a prominent blogher, Kounila Keo dedicates one of her blueladyblog.com’s content on corruption alone. In some posts, she shares her experience on facing corrupt officials and she keeps impressing that there are those who could become rich with honest business. In one of her anti-corruption articles, she ponders the root cause of corruption in Cambodia of which she attempted to link the role of trauma caused by the impact of civil war, poverty, and mainly the lack of certain education and greed. In her blog, she says:

“Between POVERTY and CORRUPTION, which one comes first? […] They both in fact complement each other. But in my point of view, a lack of certain education and moral value, greed and fear of anything bad that will happen to people again like wars are big contributors to corruption.”

She finally shared similar opinion to Borin that corruption does exist everywhere in the world and it is hardly to be stopped. However, she suggests the way that individuals can hugely contribute to reduce corruption by firstly stopping the evil within ourselves and persisting not to fall into the traps of corruption. In her ending post, she appeals:

“The nationals must feel sad about this ranking of Cambodia as such– or we can say, “Who cares?” .. But well, who cares for us if we don’t care for ourselves?… Without corruption, human rights value will be increased.

2 comments

  • The ministries of councils approved the long-awaiting draft law on Anticorruption. I still do not hope that the government cannot combat corruption effectively. They just approve it in order to please the donors and to take advantage of politics.

  • Visothpidor

    I agree that this is an act passed by the government to appease the national cry against the corruption that plagues the country of Cambodia. However, I see the importance of it and recognize that it is a first step in the fight to tackle corruption. If we all stand united and fight long enough, we can force the government to at least acknowledge that corruption and human rights violations are prevalent in the country and from that stance, we can start a dialogue to work on ending corruption.

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