The roots of the political and government corruption in Cambodia go deep. In its purest form, the world’s most corrupt governments exploit country’s natural and historical resources for their private benefits. Resources of each country should be used to benefit all of the country’s citizens but instead they are used to fund exclusive lifestyles and power-grips of the select few while ordinary people are abandoned to living in poverty. The government of Cambodia took the idea of corruption a whole step further and aside from feeding their own bank accounts at the expense of the people, it also uses the poverty instituted and maintained by their own corruption as a store front that attracts donations from developed countries.
Corrupt Cambodian Leader
Dictator Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia and one of the most dangerous criminals on this planet responsible for torture and deaths of thousands of people surrounded himself with personal allies who stuff money that should go to the treasury to provide for the people, into their own, deep pockets. Hun Sen has been murdering people since his young age and has no problem living with blood on his hands. Everyone daring to oppose him is removed, while his closest compatriots reap the benefit of billions of dollars Cambodia generates every year. The economy is purposefully kept stagnant so the people remain poor, while select few enjoy lifestyles beyond imagining, staying completely and entirely untouchable by law.
Millions of Victims
Dictator Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party have more blood on their hands than just blood of those killed directly upon Hun Sen’s command. There are millions of lives lost to Hun Sen’s greed by the extent to which Cambodian corrupt government diverts revenues away from the people. Cambodian public is deprived of health clinics and educational resources keeping them in the dark about the diseases and their possible prevention. As a result, millions of Cambodians who are not part of the elite die way before their time. According to the demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook, marginal age in Cambodia is 22.1 years (21.4 years for males and 22.8 years for females) based on the data from 2009. CIA World Factbook also ranks the degree of risk of major infectious diseases in Cambodia as “very high”. It is because Cambodian government is the most corrupt in the world and only cares about their own pockets, not public health so people die way too young.
Estimated 12 million Cambodians live below the line of poverty. One by one they will die, indirectly by the hand of their corrupt government that deprives them of basic health care and availability of safe food and water. During the course of my stay in Cambodia I had made valuable friends, but our friendships didn’t even last until my departure. They died before I could move on.
Western Sponsorship of Cambodian Corruption
In 2009, Cambodian government received $1 Billion in donations from western governments. This money which comes from taxes paid by people like you and me was given to the Cambodian government as funds for reconstruction of the country and alleviation of poverty. After decades of such yearly donations, the efforts to alleviate poverty and accelerate the development of Cambodia have failed. Corrupt Cambodian government receives the money, but it is laundered (usually via dubious property purchases) to make it impossible to trace and once safely untraceable, it ends up in the bank accounts of corrupt senior officials close to Hun Sen. All efforts to alleviate poverty in Cambodia are thus hindered, completely wasting tax-payers money.
Exploitation of Resources
Through its cultural and historical heritage at Angkor Archaeological Park Cambodia attracts millions of dollars in easy revenue. Through the use of country’s natural resources, billions more are earned. If there were no corruption in Cambodian government, and if the government utilized the monies it collects through tax programs, customs and its historical and natural resources, reforms could be implemented that would vastly improve country’s economy and alleviate much poverty even without foreign monetary assistance. For now, deforestation continues at a rate not seen anywhere else in the world while all of the proceeds are kept by the corrupt Cambodian elite.
Unfortunately, at present time, funds from international donors are not used to help the people in Cambodia, but are instead diverted to the pockets of the Cambodian elite close to the prime minister Hun Sen. Cambodian leaders are plain and simple stealing from the people of Cambodia and even though most ordinary people are well aware of it, the riches accumulated by the senior officials as well as their firm grip of Cambodian military forces makes any real chance of change nonexistent. All opposition, people who dared to point fingers at Hun Sen or any of his close men were silenced, imprisoned, assassinated or simply disappeared without a trace. Uprisings are suppressed with military force to send a clear message that the power is firmly in the hands of Hun Sen and anyone looking to take it away from him will face the barrel of a gun.
Corrupt Cambodian Judges
The corrupt government of Cambodia likes how untouchable they are and enjoys their unlimited and undisputed power their positions provide. Judiciary system of Cambodia is not independent. It is owned and controlled by the government. Judges are appointed based on their political affiliations. Corruption can be found in all walks of life in Cambodia, but with the justice being part of the corrupt government, nobody has any real chance at freedom or justice and no signed contracts or land titles have any value as it’s always and only he who has better connections that wins the case.
To add insult to injury, there is an anti corruption office on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh, nation’s capital city. I can only imagine what the purpose of an anti corruption office would be – to decide who is going to be fined and who will not be touched, based again on connections of the person who is complained against. Fighting corruption with corruption must be the biggest joke and the biggest insult ever. People running the anti-corruption office are appointed by the government based on their political affiliations. They are owned and controlled by the corrupt Cambodian government and are clearly there only to ensure that there appears to be an institution that fights corruption, but their decisions are the decisions of the government. Would you dare to report corrupt senior elite member to such anti-corruption office?
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index
According to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia remains one of the world’s most corrupt countries yet over the last few years, the ratings of the country rose a little bit. People behind the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index must have missed something or got bewildered by skewed statistics or sweet talking of the Cambodian government. Nothing has changed about Cambodia. The government here is as corrupt as ever – actually no! It’s more corrupt. It’s stronghold gets mightier every day as does its grip of the military and its accumulated riches. This government is so corrupt, thinking that after all the murders and abuse they would magically turn around and become nice officials willing to give the power to the people is laughable.
One more thing about the government corruption in Cambodia. Due to international pressure, the government has approved what they call the “corruption law”. This came 15 years after it was first proposed, but if you ask any Cambodian who’s not a member of the ruling elite, they will tell you that there is a reason why it is called the “corruption law” – it is because it’s not meant to be an “anti-corruption law”. As something that could be expected from the world’s most corrupt government, the Cambodian corruption law is intended to iron net and protect corruption, not fight or eliminate it. Just as is the case with already existing anti corruption office in Phnom Penh, since it’s not an independent institution, but rather a government controlled body, the effectiveness of their actions is bound to be a joke. And so is the “corruption law”. After 15 years of building up the world’s most corrupt government but facing international pressure for it, Hun Sen came with an idea of introducing a law that will buy him extra time, while changing nothing about the way he manipulates the country. The corruption law will not address corruption in Cambodia, it will only make it more difficult to pinpoint and fight.