Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Teachers, Ministry Official Charged For Selling Fake Certificates To Join Civil Service

Motorists ride past Cambodia's Anti-Corruption Unit in Phnom Penh, December 17, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
Motorists ride past Cambodia's Anti-Corruption Unit in Phnom Penh, December 17, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Two Takeo province teachers and a Ministry of Planning official have been charged for abuse of power under Article 35 of the Anti-Corruption Law at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 10, said court spokesperson Y Rin.

They have been placed in pre-trial detention. An investigation judge is handling the case now, Rin told CamboJA News.

Soy Chanvichet, spokesperson for the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), said the three individuals were high school teacher Nong Run, Sun Pich Somany, a primary school teacher in Takeo province, and Huy Piseth, a deputy chief of the Rural Development Office of the Ministry of Planning.

Chanvichet said the trio allegedly created fake certificate degrees and worked together to find people to use those fake degrees to work in the civil service. “First, the person prepares fake diplomas, then he recruits people to take the framework exam,” he added. The framework exam is an entrance exam set for individuals to qualify for employment in the public service.

“The three were arraigned by the ACU and brought to the court to face charges of abuse of power,” Chanvichet said last week.

According to the court order issued on May 9, the individuals conspired to commit a crime between 2023 and the beginning of May 2024 by forging high school diplomas, bachelor’s degrees diplomas, and doctorate diplomas from $450 to $1,500. They also recruit people into the state framework from $11,000 to $16,000 depending on the type of jobs.

In fact, the three individuals “successfully” helped a man to join the civil service through an entrance examination for higher education teachers on September 9, 2023, for a fee of $16,000.

In another case in 2023, paperwork was prepared for a man in Mondulkiri province, who wanted to become a teacher, but he failed the exam. The trio organized another teacher’s entrance exam on May 2, 2024 for $16,000, which was the same amount set during his first attempt. However, he spent $1,000 as a booking fee while waiting for the announcement of his results to pay in full, according to the court document.

Chanvichet said there have been several other criminal cases in January and February this year, but he did not disclose the data. The ACU starts by collecting the evidence and builds a case to be sent to court following tip-offs.

To fight corruption, Chanvichet said the ACU uses three main strategies – education, prevention and suppression. The unit guides, explains and educates the public about laws relating to corruption.

He added that there are other measures to prevent corruption. “Ultimately, our strategy is to crack down […] Yes, it’s reached a level where we have to enforce the law, and we’ve enforced the law. In this case, we are building a case to send to court.”

Am Sam Ath, operations director of human rights NGO Licadho, viewed the action by the authorities against individuals who commit wrongdoings as a positive development.

He asserted that incorporating individuals into the state employment framework using fake certificates is linked to corruption and can significantly impact human resources and Cambodian society.

“It seems that it will seriously affect our society if people enter state [institutions in a corrupt way]. It will affect the public service,” he said.

“Regardless of a person’s rank, as long as they are involved in corruption, which destroys a nation’s resources or budget, it [ACU] must act in a transparent and fair manner [to prosecute them],” he added.

The government should increase cooperation to suppress and prevent corruption, because it can destroy society.

According to Transparency International’s 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia ranks 158th out of 180 countries, scoring only 22 points. This marks a decline from its 2022 ranking, where Cambodia placed 150th with 24 points.