Cambodia takes tentative steps to tackle corruption
Government Anti-Corruption Unit hints at crackdown on gift-giving.

Luxury cars and fancy homes are among the lavish gifts Cambodia's political and business elite shower each other with on special occasions but there are hints the government is moving to curb such excesses.

The government's Anti-Corruption Unit has strongly indicated the anti-corruption agency will soon start to monitor gift-giving, The Cambodia Daily reported Saturday.

Patronage has long been a problem in impoverished Cambodia, with bribery permeating every level of society from poor villagers paying a small daily sum to their children's underpaid teachers to government cronies given huge swathes of valuable land.

Kheang Seng, the Anti-Corruption Unit’s vice chairman, told the newspaper: "We can see that our Cambodian people in every party are always giving gifts. We must think: Does our society want this to continue... [or do] we need to put a limit on the value of gifts."

The unit will conduct "a survey" to establish the "suitable" amount to spend on presents before introducing new rules.

Preap Kol, who heads Transparency International Cambodia, told the paper "indirect corruption" was a serious problem.

He said: "When children of high-ranking officials have a party, the officials who attend give gifts such as modern cars, houses and land titles. Where does this money come from?"

The problem is not restricted to Cambodia. In neighboring Thailand Buddhist monks have been the focus of a crackdown on "inappropriate behavior.”

In June, the National Council for Peace and Order moved to tackle scandals involving monks, such as the case of Luang Pu Nenkham, who posted photographs on Facebook of him flying in a private jet clutching a Louis Vuitton bag. His 16 bank accounts were found to hold $6.1 million.

In China, a much-publicised 15-month anti-corruption campaign has just ended that was aimed in part at dealing with extravagant spending by communist party officials. The campaign resulted in 74,000 officials being punished.

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Last Modified: 2014-10-12 09:36:52
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