Cambodian MPs begin long-awaited anti-graft law debate

By: MSN News
Cambodia's parliament on Wednesday started debating a controversial and long-awaited anti-corruption law, more than 15 years after the legislation was first proposed.
Cambodia is consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and the government has repeatedly come under fire from international donors and activists over its apparent unwillingness to tackle the problem.
Copies of the draft law, first proposed in 1994 and approved by the government in December, were hand-delivered to all lawmakers last week.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An called
the graft proposal a "special law" aimed at "reducing and getting rid of corruption".
But local right groups and opposition party lawmakers said the draft was flawed and asked parliament to delay the debate, saying the law would be ineffective and offered whistle-blowers little protection.
If the legislation is passed this week, a national anti-corruption council and an anti-corruption unit will be created to oversee investigations, according to a copy of the draft.
Public figures face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of accepting bribes, it said.
Cambodia was ranked 158 out of 180 countries on anti-graft organisation Transparency International's most recent corruption perception index.
It was also ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian nation after Indonesia in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, seen by AFP on Tuesday.
Last year, a US diplomat said that graft costs the country up to 500 million dollars every year, an allegation the government rejected as "unsubstantiated."

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