>Hun Sen warned against confiscation of wealth from corrupt government officials

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31 May 2008 By Phan Sophat
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Courtesy of Ki-Media

Prime minister Hun Sen issued a warning today, saying that the illegal confiscation of wealth from corrupt government officials could create unrest in the country.

In a speech given during his meeting with people, Hun Sen (pictured) talked about his government being unable to prevent corruption, but he said that the forced confiscation of wealth belonging to the corrupt government officials will create problems.

Hun Sen said: “The corrupt officials, they ensnared me by telling me: ‘I am corrupt and I have ($)100 million…’ Then we have to confiscate (the corruption money) from them, so we confiscate back and forth, how do we do it? Will they agree (to the confiscation)? Then war will erupt from these confiscations. These guys, we confiscate from them, after confiscating for a while, all the rich people will all become poor, then more than 3 million people were destroyed [KI-Media: allusion to the killing under the KR regime], don’t play with that.”

In reaction to Hun Sen’s speech, Kem Sokha, HRP president, declared that this shows the ruling CPP’s unwillingness to fight against corruption, because the fight against corruption can be undertaken peacefully with an anti-corruption law.

Kem Sokha said: “If the leaders have the will and they promote the rule of law, we can adopt a law first, then everybody will be under the law. Next we can resolve this issue peacefully according to the law, there will be no revenge. Thus, there will be no war because those who are wealthy, they want to earn their money legally.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy also reacted to Hun Sen’s speech by saying: “Laws that are still missing, such as the anti-corruption law, we must have the National Assembly adopt it first, then we can put into full practice. When we put this law into full practice, then the corruption level will decrease.”

Thun Saray, Adhoc human rights President, said that governance is a difficult task, but the government must have the true willingness to eliminate the wealth gap caused by all illegal actions.

Thun Saray said: “This is unlike under the KR regime. The KR confiscated wealth from everybody, this is wrong. However, regarding governance in a free market society, the government has the duty to prevent any illegal income, such as stealing state funds; gain from illegal trades – like women or drug traffickings; accepting briberies, etc… for these cases, the government must take action against them.”

Currently, Cambodia is one of the countries with the highest problem of corruption in the world. Poverty and social injustice are blamed on this major corruption issue.

Recently, several NGOs have delivered more than 1 million thumbprints on a petition to the government and the National Assembly demanding for the adoption of the anti-corruption law which has been stalled for the past 10 years.

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