Civil Society Questions why the Government Releases the Anti-Corruption Draft Law so Late – Tuesday, 29.12.2009

Posted on 29 December 2009. Filed under: Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 645

“The draft of an anti-corruption law has not yet been publicly released, though one part of this draft law was disclosed last week by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers. When this part of the draft became widely known, it was either welcomed or mocked, as this law will require also staff of non-government organizations who earn little to declare their property.

“A point of this draft law likely aims at the director of an FM radio station who has lots of property, after he had received funds to support the station for nearly 10 years.

“However, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who asked not to be named, said that the draft has already reached the secretary general of the National Assembly.

“Officials of non-government organizations said yesterday that keeping the long-awaited draft law on anti-corruption out of the public eye is at odds with the spirit of a law that has to call for openness and transparency.

“Though the Council of Ministers approved the draft law to combat corruption more than two weeks ago, the secrecy that surrounds the law makes it impossible to properly discuss and analyze it, NGO workers said.

“‘I think the key approach is transparency,’ said Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

“‘I don’t know what the intent of keeping it secret is,’ he added.

“The Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan reiterated day-before-yesterday that the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public.

“‘This is the proposed draft used internally by the government,’ Mr. Siphan said about the law, adding that he did not know when the draft would be forwarded to the Assembly for debate and passage into law.

“One of the only details of the anti-corruption law that has been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets.

“‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Siphan explained day-before-yesterday, adding that the law will take effect 60 days after being passed by the National Assembly.

“A political observer and the former head of the Center for Social Development, Ms. Chea Vannath, said that following the spirit of the anti-corruption law, the legislation should be available for public viewing and inspection, since it is such scrutiny which helps discourage and expose corruption. Keeping it confidential counters that principle, she said.

“‘If it is not transparent, it’s like you are fishing in the mud at nighttime,’ she said.

“‘How can you comment on the law without having a copy of the law?,’ she asked. ‘It’s a strange process.’

“‘The word “fighting corruption” equals transparency, openness, access to information,’ she added.

“Soeung Saroeun, senior operations and finance manager of the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia [CCC], a professional organization of NGOs, said his group has requested a copy of the anti-corruption legislation, but like others has yet to see it. Having not yet seen the draft law, Mr. Saroeun said the CCC could not comment. Nonetheless, he said questions remain about the draft law, particularly how it defined assets for NGO staffers.

‘”If we have to declare our assets, what do they mean by “assets”?’ he asked.

“NGO Forum Executive Director Chhith Sam Ath said he could not speak about the law until after reading it and consulting with other members in his umbrella group of non-government organizations.

“President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Ou Virak echoed remarks that discussing the draft law was challenging, but he agreed that not only non-government officials should have to declare their assets.

“Mr. Virak said he had no problem listing NGO employees as ‘public servants’ and recommended more groups should also have to declare their assets.

‘”It’s a very positive step in the right direction,’ he said. ‘I personally welcome it.'” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #566, 29.12.2009; a major part had been published already by the Cambodia Daily on 28.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #373, 29.12.2009

  • The Asian Development Bank Provides US$65.2 Million for the Development of Four Provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake [there are projects to strengthen education by providing technical and vocational training, to develop small scale agriculture in the Tonle Sap area, and to develop the financial sector – US$30.7 million is provided by the ADB as loan and grant, US$19.1 million is from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and from the government of Finland, and $5.47 million is from the Cambodian government]
  • The Svay Rieng Court Rejects the Request of Mr. Sam Rainsy to Delay the Hearings to Wait for His Participation [over the removal of temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers – Mr. Sam Rainsy is at present abroad]
  • The Prime Minister Warned Overloaded Vehicles [saying that if some companies still abuse the law, those companies must be shut down and their operations will be stopped]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2136, 29.12.2009

  • The National Assembly Approved the First Chapter of the Draft on Expropriation
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Warned not to Misuse the Surname ‘Hun’ to Intimidate People [he said so during a ‘Hun’ family party at the Intercontinental Hotel]
  • Pneumonia Is the Major Killer Disease that Kills Nearly 2,000 Cambodian Children Each Year

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #706, 29.12.2009

  • America Condemned Siam [Thailand] for Deporting 4,000 Hmong Ethnic People Back to Laos [and warned that the United States might halt military aid and the joint Golden Cobra military exercises with Thailand]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #566, 29.12.2009

  • Civil Society Questions why the Government Releases the Anti-Corruption Draft Law so Late

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6843, 29.12.2009

  • A Man Raped a Three-Year-Old Girl – He Was Arrested [Kompong Speu]
  • A Thai General [Mr. Panlop Pinmanee] Announced to Demonstrate Requesting to Dismiss [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva [in late January or early February, if the people would be ready to fight for democracy]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #77, 29.12.2009

  • The Prime Minister Denies to Permit the 7NG Company to Construct a Bridge [connecting from Areyaksatr to the Hun Sen Park, saying it would affect traffic in the city and contribute to environmental impacts on the surrounding areas, creating noise pollution]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5085, 29.12.2009

  • Maternal Rate of Dengue Fever Declined 50% [from 67 deaths in 2008 to only 36 in 2009], but the Patient Rate Increased [from 9,232 cases in 2008 to 11,625 cases in 2009]
  • Three Monks Were Defrocked and Sent to Be Rehabilitated because of Drug Addiction [Banteay Meanchey]
  • An Australian Man Was Robbed and Killed in Sihanoukville [perpetrators are not yet identified]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1843, 29.12.2009

  • Parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party Adopted First Chapter of the Expropriation Draft Law, while the Opposition Party Opposes

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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