Talk to me about corruption

Too many foreigners use to talk about how corrupt is Cambodia (the 128th place in the CPI 2009). In fact, it is one of the most corrupt countries of the world. It is my humble opinion. I come from a country that is also considered one of the most corrupt (the 75th place in the CPI 2009). So far, the most transparent countries are the Nordics like Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Those countries are small and cold. Their standard of life is very high. I think they are not too much interest in getting the public services at their personal benefits in countries like those.

Surprisingly, countries like Italy, Russia and even United States have problems of administrative corruption. However, citizens of those countries in Cambodia use to complain that this country is too corrupt. They do not know – or pose as they do not know – that some foreigners are also involved in corruption.

The problem itself is not the complain. The problem is that such complain is not put into context. At the same time there is something further: Cambodia is a developing nation. If you compare a case of corruption in Italy with one of Cambodia, we have a different perspective. Normally, we tend to think that all Cambodians are corrupt, while Italians, well… some of them are corrupts… Is it real?

In Cambodia there are a lot people who are honest. Some of them are also inside the power and they are for sure working to build a transparent country like Iceland 🙂 You can find very honest policemen in Cambodia, while certain British policemen can be real nasty, do I exaggerate?

Now well, corruption can be fought throughout repression. To do so, you need an excellent law frame to guarantee that the political system will not allow corrupt traditions. It is difficult to gain, but it is easier than other perspectives of fighting corruption.

Few sources concentrate in another perspective of corruption. It is an element that has its root inside the culture and traditions of a society. Of course, we are not talking about good traditions. We are talking about vices inside a society.

Cambodia comes from a time of war, conflicts and violence. During the Khmer Rouge regime people has to steal and lie to survive. We cannot forget that we still in a Post-War time. In Post War Europe, there were also horrible situations like we have today in Cambodia. However, Europe considered itself as a model for all the world.

More worrying than corruption itself is the lack of awareness that certain practices are corruption. In this sense, you can find corruption in a daily life, through the streets and markets to the schools. You cannot develop a good law frame to fight corruption if people in the street has not the awareness that this or that practice is corrupt.

Honesty is learned when you are a child either at home or at school.

We should focus in the new generations of Cambodians. Growing a new generation of honest people means that in the coming decades, the future Cambodian leaders will have another attitude. It does not mean that the current situation cannot be changed. We need it too. But children and young people should understand that taking the public funds for the own gain, profiting from the  public services or selling the natural resources of their own country, is a treason to their own nation. You should learn from your childhood that becoming a leader does not mean becoming the owner of your country, but it is a public service to your own people.

Normally, patriot people do not steal their own nation. They feel proud of it. They care the resources of their country and they think in the development of all the peoples of the nation.

Education, therefore, should be a focus if we want to move the name of Cambodia from the list of the most corrupt countries, to the list of the most transparent ones… like Iceland, but without volcano and ice.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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