|A man walks past the Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters in Phnom Penh. The unit issued a request for all newly elected commune chiefs to declare their assets. Pha Lina|
Andrew Nachemson and Niem Chheng
The Phnom Penh Post, Thu, 13 July 2017
The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has demanded that all new commune chiefs and councillors elected at the June 4 local elections submit asset declarations to the unit and reminded those who were re-elected to update their declarations.
In two statements signed by ACU Chairman Om Yentieng, the body requested that the Interior Ministry submit a complete list of all the names of newly elected officials and informed all officials of the impending submission deadline.
“The ACU is honoured to inform all members of the commune council . . . that the ACU will organise an asset declaration event within 30 days after taking office,” one statement says. It tells incoming officials that they will have a month from July 15 to submit their assets. Officials who retained their seats have to resubmit by January, it says.
The process has been previously criticised as ineffective – and even pointless – due to the fact that the asset declarations are not made public. Instead, they remain in a sealed folder at the ACU and are opened only in case of an investigation.
“We have been advocating and will continue to advocate for an amendment of the Anti-Corruption Law to require asset declaration be made publicly accessible,” Transparency International Cambodia Director Preap Kol said. “We hope the Government and concerned parties will consider this proposal.”
The organisation Accountability Cambodia last year appealed to Cambodia’s politicians to voluntarily disclose their assets, publishing the financial records from a CNRP lawmaker and the president of the minor Khmer Power Party.
Twelve council candidates from the Grassroots Democracy Party also made declarations, although little success was had in getting declaration from the major parties.
Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Mu Sochua said the opposition intends to require public declarations should they win power at the July national election.
“It doesn’t show accountability to the people who we’re supposed to represent if we hide the facts,” Sochua said, dismissing the idea of the CNRP taking the lead in issuing public asset declarations for its own elected officials.
“We’d rather not make it an exception, we’d rather it be the law.”