Friday, 11 July 2014

So Much Noise, Power, and Money

“We have to find the real person who spent the money to pay them. We do not need to pay them back, but it does not mean we [should] keep quiet. We have to investigate the case to find the real person who was involved with it. It does not matter [if the Global Fund cuts grants]; we have other organisations to help.

Do not blame the government, because it did not know everything.”

An unidentified senior health ministry official reported in The Phnom Penh Post, 20 December 2013

Is this unidentified official serious? He probably is, considering the fact that the CPP government do not really take their anti-corruption measures seriously.

Of course, they have to first find the person who embezzles the Global Fund grant, even though their identification details are all over in the Global Fund report. There is a good chance that they may already disappear from planet Earth, just like Chhouk Bandit does.

Even though the Global Fund now demands the embezzled amount of almost $500,000 be returned, the senior official asserts there is no need to comply with the demand. But the Ministry will make a lot of noises – perhaps just to keep the gullible believe or hope the government is dead serious about combating corruption. After all, they have just arrested and charged tax official Liv Bunthan for collecting tax money of $500 and sends only $200 to the State coffer. This small potato is up for a jail sentence between two and five years, and a fine between $1,000 and $2,500. They don’t monkey around, do they?

But all is not lost, anyway. If the Global Fund carries out the threat of cutting their grants, the senior official is certain that other care-free benefactors like China will step in to fill the gap. No worries.

Better still, the senior official insists the government not be held responsible for the Global Fund fraud; he says it does not know everything. Sound familiar? The Khmer Rouge leaders claim they did not know about the mass murder under their watch. The CPP government, for instance, contends no one is responsible for the stampede death of about 350 people on the Koh Pich Bridge. These top officials all share a common conviction that ignorance is the best form of defence.

Now it is clear why Cambodians kill to be in government – so much noise, so much power, and so much money, yet no responsibility.

Ung Bun Ang


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