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One Point for Cambodia's Transparency-Betterment

by Lay Vicheka

July 27, 2005

"Intellectual government is the government that draws conclusion from public opinion" - Lay Vicheka (2005).

More or less, Cambodia is seen domestically, regionally and globally, immensely favoring "liberal democracy", especially during and after the transitional period of UNTAC-backed election. As the result, a honeymoon government was born to enrich people's well-beings, perk up economic prosperity, preserve the remaining territorial integrity...etc.

With obvious written evidence, we see that the government is democracy-oriented; decentralization, accountability, balance of power (as stated in the constitution), market-based policy, open to constructive criticisms...etc. To better the procedure, I, really personally, would like to propose an idea to push Cambodia's democratic process, more specifically to push the power of transparency, which is one of the indispensable elements of democracy. But from the outset, we must have some notion about what is transparency.

What does transparency, in a practical way, mean?

Transparency, in accordance with my perception, is referred to "nude government". Government must have nothing to hide from public awareness. People must have access to every conduct of the government, whether it is national spending budget, government's foreign debts, international affairs, plenary session of the National Assembly, annual development targets, every courts' judgments, government officials' dismissing, government's failures/successes. The different between people and government is just that, ordinary people have no decision-making power, but they have access to everything, known by the government. People almost have every access to all of these information, but one negative point that I have seen is that people have no knowledge at all to the personal background (internal knowledge) of the high-ranking governmental officials, members of parliament/senate, as well as the court. With better awareness of these senior officials data, would bring in three benefits; fortifying trust, selecting best of the best officials, recording a good-model history.

I. Fortifying Trust

Without knowing the personal background of these senior governmental officials, members of parliament/senate, and judges/prosecutors of the court, people would loss confidence with their leaders, representatives and judges. This is one of the reasons that Cambodian people respect this senior officials in the physical manner and not in the mental attitude. If these senior officials' personal data were widespread dispatched to every corner of the people, heartfelt respect would be appeared out from the people. Lacking awareness of personal data of the leader, I think, would clearly categorize between the leader and the populace. These two levels of people would be clandestinely veiled from each other, as the son and father don't know each other very well, into the extent that would make them trust and respect each other.

II. Selecting Best of the Best Officials

Though party chooses deputies to represent in the parliament and dignitary to create council of ministers, having the internal knowledge of the senior government officials is still beneficial. Party itself, would have to appoint the best candidate so that it can respond to people's needs, otherwise, the party won't be reelected. If they choose the corrupt officials, and people know about this official's background, the result is clearly seen for the next-term election. Having complete or much knowledge about the senior officials would benefit the party itself, would enrich Cambodia's social development, and the people-oriented policy of the party would have better prospect to achieve.

III. Recording A Good-Model History

Why Cambodia has this current fruit? How come this person fit for the leadership profession and not another person? Why different leaders yield different fruit? What are the proper characteristics and criteria for leaders?...? The best answer to these questions must be extracted from the history of Cambodia's leaders or dynasty. Indeed, Cambodia has history on dynasty, but I have never seen or stumbled across the written personal backgrounds of current Cambodian leaders.

History record on Cambodian leaders would serve as incentive for younger Cambodian generation. And without, I think, young Cambodia would never aspire for leadership role, and would never have critical-thinking skills. The final positive point is that, young and next Cambodian leader would never "repeat the past" (this is one of the best essences of history).


One of the reasons for Cambodia's current grave result, I think, is "unfit people for specific professions". And I don't believe that Cambodia will prosper, if this phenomenon still prevails in Cambodia. It is really hard to bring more benefits to explain on this scope of paper, as I tend to make my work practical and brief; targeting the unprofessional people.

Cambodia should draw examples from the developed country and study on how and why they have today. North America and the West alike, always publicly show off their senior officials, especially before the public nomination, and this is one of the reasons why they are always the frontrunners of human-oriented regime (liberal democracy). Not only just showing off, openness to criticisms and personal analysis are also allowed for individuals and state/private entities.

To be even more correspondent to my above article's essence, I am pleased to invite in all kind of constructive criticisms and opinion participation; domestically and all corner of the world.


The author is a second year student of law at the University of Phnom Penh.

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