1st February 2012
The Kampuchea Thmey Daily reports Vice-President of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Sean Borat, boasting that his organisation is saving the government almost $US6m a year lost in graft in various ministries.
He said that since its establishment, it had uncovered improper expense claims and ghost budgets at twenty-four of the Kingdom’s institutions. He also claimed that those committing corruption were gradually being discovered and arrested, citing the recent example of the Kandal Provincial judge caught red-handed recently extorting $US5,000 from a victim by threatening to execute an arrest warrant on her if she didn’t pay up.
Many observers are understandably skeptical that the Unit, run by a close associate of the premier, is really capable of effecting real change in the climate of impunity that feeds the patronage networks that are central to how the bureaucracy operates here. This would require real and dramatic public sector reform with real wage increases to replace the informal systems of cash transfers that currently crease the system, they say.
(Donors have been ‘requesting’ compensation reform for at least the last year, given the numerous distortion of the current system of supplementary payments, but this is apparently opposed by the Ministry of Finance that prefers the status quo.)
However, even if it is true that most of those currently being “caught” by the new anti-graft unit are not part of any of the major networks and therefore lack the necessary protection afforded by their links to the “right people”, the actions of the Unit must be starting to shake things up.
No doubt one of the consequences will be to strengthen the hands of the most powerful factions in the CPP by culling the weaker ones or forcing independents into the fold, nevertheless if the Unit can point to such finance successes, it may well strengthen its position and therefore, its freedom of action.
Then if could yet prove the have real teeth. Another indication, perhaps, that the country is slowly on its way to becoming normal?