In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo made the following comments on source of corruption, bon how accurate information and transparency help make bribe free and clean investment, corruption as one of the oldest diseases in the world, and appreciating any first coming investors.
No Corruption in 1980s
The central office of the Anti-Corruption Unit is formerly the command headquarters of the armed force since the French time. I would remind you that from this command headquarters, war was made under the French colony and later the war between 1970 and 1975. Later than that this place was also used for war matter. Now we have used this place as command centre against corruption. If delegates have time, maybe it is a good idea how we make war command centre into central office of Anti-Corruption Unit.
As far as corruption is concerned, I wish to remind you that in the 1980s, corruption was not a buzz term because there was nothing to crave for. In 1979, there were no human in Phnom Penh. Anyone happened to return to Phnom Penh could have claimed a couple houses if they wished to. Phnom Penh was not congested with traffic and human as the one we have now. Phnom Penh that we rebuilt from scratch was a ghost city. There was neither running water nor electricity. At the seaport of Kompong Som, workers who carried rice in bags made holes and let rice go into their tied end trousers. They stole rice to feed their families’ members. Corruption was not there after Pol Pot.
Bribes Free and Clean Investment
Assuming the post of Prime Minister, I started political and gradual economic reforms. We turned in steps reform of the economy from centrally planned to market one. On political front, I started the negotiation for political settlement to cease war and to initiate national reconciliation. While promoting economy with private participation, corruption appears. I am calling on the private and public sectors to cooperate on this matter. The public sector should work to use national budget according to what it was planned for and to use it efficiently. As for the private sector, I am calling them to cease the habit of bribe giving. The public officials would not have money to bribe anything or anyone.
This calls for cooperation from the private sector by adhering to principle of bribe free and clean investment. It is an important issue. I am calling on the private sector to take a clear stand. I request that in every annual state and private sector meeting. I am asking them to pursue honesty and transparency as principle. Other actors involved – people, press, etc, should also help in these issues. In education, we can also incorporate the topic into the curriculum. As for the press, they have very important role to play but they can also cause chaos too when it comes to twisting the fact in information sharing or rumor without proper investigation. We need proper and comprehensive information provision that will cause no disrepute by the press, civil society or political party. That will help a lot in taking measures.
Corruption – World’s Oldest Disease
Corruption is the world oldest disease. The second in line is prostitute. It is not easy to eradicate corruption. It requires determination, will and proper judicial norm. How do they define corruption? When children buy presents for parents, do they define this action as corruption or not? There must be a clear distinguishing of actions or children would stop buying things for parents. I was also surprised to have learnt from the press that Ms Christine Lagarde, currently Head of IMF and formerly Minister of Finance of France, is accused of being corrupted. I have not heard anything yet about ADB. I hope ADB will not suffer bad reputation like IMF or World Bank.
As far as ranking is concerned, some countries overreacted when their ranks demoted from A1 to A2. Those countries are the ones to rank the others at will. When ranking is twining with political reason like that, how are we going to fight corruption? We have to start with fact, the truth. I suggest that you work it out with concerned parties for an internationally accepted standard for ranking. Some rankings made because of political reason, for example by international organization, on so and so governments. They kill other countries’ reputations. As sovereign nations, they would not stay quiet. There comes a problem to distinguish between true and false.
To wrap this up, all we need to fight corruption is to base on truth. I am asking it from the Press, non-governmental organization, political parties that are not in the government. We just need the truth – no more and no less.
Cold War Is Alive
The world is in difficult circumstance. The cold war era said to have died with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. However, in reality, it is still alive and kicking. We still see cooperation along with frustration and confrontation. Confrontation leads to denouncing one another. Fact becomes false and vice versa. Take for instance in Cambodia, we have not had a drop of oil yet, they launched a seminar in Cambodia on topic whether Cambodia is cursed by oil. Everyone comes to me always brought budget from oil with me.
Finally, I clarified that this is not the stage to talk about how to spend money from oil because we have not made a penny from it yet. We have not had a drop of oil yet. Chevron does not take it out and even sell its shares to Singapore. Some countries, in some instances, have their Ambassadors discussing with us about investments and they all want bigger shares for their countries. I have never heard yet any Ambassador talking to me about big profit margin for Cambodia. I only heard they ask for their company’s bigger shares.
Catch Any Coming Fish
Some say visitors coming before them are not honest or bad investors. That is why there are two companies from one countries and I do not say who. We allowed one company to manufacture hi-tech product and the company asked for five years monopole. Later, a bigger country came and told me the former company is small and Cambodia should not allow it. Let me affirm on two points. Firstly, I do not wait for big fish or small because I do not have fish in my pan. Whatever fish comes by, I catch it. I urge people not to blame companies doing business in Cambodia from 1980s as corrupted. Secondly, I advise that if the Royal Government were to abuse the rights given to one company, it may do the same to yours.
I may bring up another story. An international institution asked us to privatize custom service. I did not agree. They were unhappy. Are there any countries in the world that privatize custom? Custom service is a sovereign authority, which has the rights to use weapons, aircrafts and marines. I still keep the document with me. Two experts wrote letters to me too. I gave my instruction to HE Keat Chhon to annul the meeting immediately. This sort of problem should not have happened. Fighting against corruption requires accurate information, transparency and accountability. To fight it with political agenda would disappoint many./.