Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Cambodia Perceived as Highly Corrupt, Despite Incremental Improvement

Civil society groups attend a press conference for the release of Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index in Phnom Penh on January 31, 2023. (CamboJA/ Pring Samrang)
Civil society groups attend a press conference for the release of Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index in Phnom Penh on January 31, 2023. (CamboJA/ Pring Samrang)

Cambodia mildly improved its score on Transparency International’s 2022 corruption index released Tuesday, but remains considered among the most corrupt countries globally.

Cambodia received a score of 24 out of 100 on the Corruptions Perception Index (CPI), a slight improvement over its score of 23 last year, which was the third-lowest position in the Asia-Pacific behind Myanmar (157th) and North Korea (171st). The Kingdom was also ranked 150 out of 180 countries and territories globally compared to its 2022 score of 157, according to the index. But in the past five years, Cambodia’s score has increased from a low of  20 in 2018.

Pech Pisey, executive director at Transparency International Cambodia, said systematic corruption remains a widespread problem complicit in the erosion of democracy. He noted Cambodia had tightened restrictions on fundamental rights, including loss of freedom of expression and corruption in the judicial system.

“If we look at the economic sector we are better, but if we look at the democratic process, rule of law and abuse of powers still remain problems,” Pisey said. “I emphasize systematic corruption as large-scale, especially in the form interwoven networks between powerful men and businessmen using abuse of power to promote self-interests.”

“This is corruption that we have not seen much positive progress and it is a key obstacle to prevent the development in Cambodia,” he added.

CPI’s conclusions are based on data from eight international institutions, including the World Bank.

Across ASEAN, Myanmar experienced the sharpest fall after its military coup, falling five points, from 28 to 23 in the past year, making it the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, according to the index. 

Meanwhile, Singapore ranked among the top five countries with least perceived corruption worldwide. 

Indonesia and Malaysia dropped, from 38 to 34 and 39 to 42, respectively. Thailand improved by one, from 35 to 36 and Lao, from 30 to 31. The Philippine’s score remained unchanged at 33.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin said there was no corruption in the judicial system because the ministry has a clear policy to fight corruption, which he claims includes cooperating with the Anti-Corruption Unit.

“We have gradually implemented [policies] for judicial officers who have committed corruption, they will be responded to with the law and punishment,” he said. “We have our mechanism to fight corruption, if there is enough evidence to show which officer committed corruption, [the public] can report, and a competent institution will take legal action.”

Om Yentieng, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Unit, declined to comment when reached by telephone. 

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