Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, it is my great pleasure and honor to join you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the opening of the seminar on the Draft Law on Anti-Corruption which is organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appreciate the great efforts of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection in preparing this draft law on anti-corruption and especially in organizing this important seminar. I strongly welcome this seminar with three reasons:
1. From now on the public will be aware that the draft law on anti-corruption that the Royal Government of Cambodia has solemnly committed to create is now being formed. Remaining doubts on this matter will be finished.
2. This earnest and important seminar today, joined by national and international experts, law makers as well as experts from countries that have tremendous experiences in combating corruption, will provide this draft law with comprehensiveness and transparency.
3. It is clear that straightforward comments and ideas emerged from this seminar will provide encouragement and support to the Royal Government’s commitment in having an accurate and good law on anti-corruption.
We are all clearly aware that corruption is the factor that entices individuals to act in opposite of their duties by using promises and bribes. Corrupt activities can be compared to illegal collection of fess from the people. Moreover, corrupt activities are complicity between individuals in carrying out malicious and illegal actions. For this reason, many countries have identified these kinds of activities as illegal and classified them as crimes. In human history, corrupt activities rooted back since ancient time. Today, nearly every country and political regime are affected by corruption in different levels. The force of destructive capability of corruption varies accordingly to these levels of gravity.
Talking about destructive capability of corruption, we all are aware that corruption in different levels – small, medium or large scale – always has negative impacts on society. Corruption affects efficiency in production as well as implementing law. Without virtue in their conducts, some individuals and public servants involve in activities that are against their duties. This transforms public relations to some kinds of affairs between individuals for the sake of private interest to the detriment of public interest. This is against the fact that public servants’ duties are to serve the people and the state. Indeed, these attitudes loosen efficiency in the implementation of laws and regulations which paves ways for some individuals to stay above all legal rules. This kind of situation damages basic principles of democracy because it affects equity and justice in our society. Furthermore, if corruption is strongly rooted, it would give grounds for the expansion of the same kind of activities.
With the above mentioned reasons, it is not difficult for us to see the importance to combat against corruption which leads to the success of economic development of our country. I take this opportunity to clarify once again few main points on how to foster anti-corruption to be the first priority in all actions of national economic reform.
First- Experiences in economic management in our days have shown evidences reflecting clearly reactive impact of governance on national economy. In many cases, corruption is the main cause of revenue lost, quality of investment, public services, public confidence in government actions and losses of investment inflows. For this reason, leaders in different countries have agreed on the importance of good governance as to ensure success in all kind of implementations of economic reform programs.
Second– A lot of studies confirm the strong relation between the successful combating of corruption and economic growth. Within the context of globalization that private capital freely flows, it is observed in many cases that corruption and lack of transparency in economic management have direct impacts on capital flow either in term of quantity or quality of investment. In this sense, corruption—bad governance in other word—is the main constraint in directing investment to production sector and attracting long-term investment to sustain economic growth. The experiences of regional financial crisis also reflected the economic and financial tragedy as a result from corruption.
Third– Globalization needs good governance. The free flow of capital and economic and trade liberalization require clear rule of law and a serious and responsible government to work in the transparent, accountable and reliable way. These factors cement investor’s confidence and promote economic activities, as the result any country can exploit its advantages from the globalization.
Fourth- Another important factor required special attention, especially on combating against corruption, is foreign aid. Most of donor countries provide aid with clear objectives on how the aid is used in effective and productive manner as well as being able to control and monitor. That is why good governance is an important criterion for donor to determine size and type of aid to aid recipient countries. It is clear that corruptive, wasteful and inefficient use of its own resources would deter donor countries to provide further loans or aids.
The effect of corruption that we should not overlook is the lost of public confidence in the government which is a cause to weaken national unity and impede economic development. As aforementioned, corruption undermines confidence in investment, obstructs sustainable development and thwarts poverty reduction program that, as a result, Cambodian people will bear with these consequences. In short, corruption is the key constraint in development and poverty reduction that is the fundamental policy of the current government. In this spirit, the government has paid attention in combating corruption. The government takes real measures by creating a number of laws to strengthen public financial management and public procurement. The government established Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection in the purpose of combating corruption. At the same time, the National Audit Authority is also established. Currently, all ministries establish Internal Audit Department to conduct internal audit work in order to fight against corruption within ministry level.
Obviously, we haven’t obtained expected result in fighting against corruption since we do not have strong basis to effective fight with corruption. In general, development in Cambodia such as democracy, economy and society have become stronger than before.
In the present time, we are talking about fighting against corruption. I believe that we know that Law on Anti-Corruption alone would not be enough to tackle such issues because it is only a key to open a door and solve some specific issues. To free the society from corruption, I believe that we should have enough good quality of law and good governance in public management and private business.
As a result, the core of Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government is Good Governance which focuses on (i) combating corruption, (ii) law and judicial reforms, (iii) public administrative reform, and (iv) military reform. In the core of theRectangular Strategy, fighting against corruption is an inter-related factor and necessary to forge a common strategy toward development entailing Good Governance.
To wipe off corruption, to bring justice to society, to achieve value of democracy and human right and to promote law and judicial reform, the Royal Government has exerted utmost effort in creating law to be approved by the legislative institution. So far we have 203 laws and they are the basic and urgent legal framework for governing the state. In 2005, we continue to adopt laws which are the basic for judicial field and civil law. I would like to add that draft code of civil procedure with 600 articles have been adopted by the government and sent to the National Assembly in early July. This year, the government has sent draft of Civil Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code as well as draft Organic Law on the Organization and Functioning of Courts, Status of Magistrates, and Emissary of the Court. The effort to draft the law is short-term strategy to form a basic legal framework to improve the performance of judicial sector.
Further point is the Justice System reform aiming at raising population awareness of the law and judiciary, in particular enhancing the quality of lawsuit and related services by strengthening judiciary professionalism to support justice both within and outside the court rooms. At the same time, factor that should not be overlooked is to strengthen judiciary police, prison system, courts administration and other legal institutions, including training in legal and judicial fields as well.
Indeed, legal and judicial system reform of the Royal Government of Cambodia has a detailed action plan derived from vision and strategy appropriate for Cambodia. I am convinced that these reforms would contribute to an effective justice process, especially in implementation of law and resolving cases in courts. Undeniably, these reforms will support to a more effective fight against corruption. However, the above-mentioned reforms may face challenges or obstacles if there wouldn’t be public administration reform.
Within this framework, public administrative reform, in direct term is mainly about establishing good governance in public administration. This reform is an effort to enhance public services within our means to ensure sustainability of public service provision and continuity of government institutions. Public administration reform requires government to provide an improved service to population by ethnical and professional civil servants. These require an increase of civil servant salaries, development of human resource capacity and institutions as well as promoting application of information technology. Without doubt, legal and judicial and public administrative reforms are the reforms that vigorously contribute to combat against corruption, in particular the public administrative reform aiming at reducing corruption, red tape and gradual prevention rent seeking behavior. In this sense, I would like to appeal to all people, national and international, to actively support these reforms.
On behalf of the Royal Government and on myself, I have declared to combat against corruption in my addresses. Once again, I would like to emphasis that combating corruption, in all forms, is a firm commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Indeed, in order to combat against corruption we have to formulate an appropriate and effective legal framework, including monitoring and controlling mechanism to crack down on corruption and to ensure that implementation will yield good results by reducing as much as possible in the opportunity for rent seeking behavior by encouraging the participation from the media, especially through the news network with good moral ground and high accountability. In this spirit, we will continue this work with all relevant partners proceeding in accordance to the existing law and regulation.
Due to the effort made by Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection headed by Lok Chumteav Sr. Minister Men Samon, we have seen the new draft law on Anti-Corruption with according to direction identified by the above indicators. In fact, this is a preliminary draft law as key concept has not been reviewed yet. Despite this, I have noted that this preliminary draft preserves key concepts of draft law on Combating Corruption which the Royal Government of Cambodia has implemented during 2003 and additionally incorporated other concepts to follow the international standard. Aspects of the United Nation Convention Against Corruption and anti-corruption action plan for Asia Pacific were included in the draft law. Furthermore, the new draft law has undergone initial review from the international experts as well.
Today with present of Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen – lawmakers from Parliament, Senate, members of the Royal Government, governors, including national and international experts, representatives of the civil society as well as private sector that are attending this workshop, with great delight, I hope and believe that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen will utilize your knowledge and experiences to improve draft law on Anti-Corruption.
Finally, I would like to wish this seminar to have fruitful outcomes during discussion to contribute in comprehensive formulation of Anti-Corruption Law and may I wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished national and international guests, including all participants the five gems of Buddhist blessings. I would like to declare the opening of this seminar from now on.