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Photography contest entries illustrate the toll of corruption

"I Want to Be One of Them" explores how poor children can miss out on receiving an education
"I Want to Be One of Them" explores how poor children can miss out on receiving an education. PHIM KANIKA

Photography contest entries illustrate the toll of corruption

An iPhone photo of a young boy peering into a primary school classroom has won a photography competition about the negative effects of corruption.

Dozens of people on Friday night attended the launch of an exhibition displaying the entries at Meta House, where the winners of Transparency International Cambodia’s “Illustrate how corruption negatively affects your world” competition were announced.

Other issues touched on by the entries include poorly regulated development and the exploitation of public facilities for personal gain.

Phim Kanika, 24, took the winning photo while visiting a school in Battambang province for her job in February.

She said it showed how children are missing out on education because they cannot afford to pay the bribes teachers demand to supplement their meagre salaries.

Kanika, who works as an administrative assistant for an aid organisation, said she was familiar with the issue of corruption in education because, as a student, she herself had to pay teachers.

“The schools, they say they are free of charge, but in reality they are not,” she said.

“But we can’t complain about the teachers because they have little salary. So I mainly complain to the government.”

Kanika, who often takes pictures of ordinary people and posts them on social media, said she would like to become a professional photographer.

“In Cambodia we cannot really pursue what we want because there are many obstacles like corruption,” she said.

“But I like Facebook and Instagram because I can express what my heart feels and my interests on the social media.”

Elizabeth Johnson, research and advocacy program manager at Transparency International Cambodia, said the competition attracted about 50 entries.

The photos were judged on their artistic interpretation of the theme, creativity and photographic quality.

“Through illustrating stories of how corruption negatively affects our world, we hope the photo competition can further engage people to push for a more just and equitable society,” Johnson said.

The second-placed entry shows traffic being blocked by an expansive moto parking lot at a Phnom Penh market. An explanation provided with the photo says it was suspected commune authorities were reluctant to take action to fix the problem because they were taking bribes from the informal parking operators.

The second runner-up’s photo demonstrates what happens when developments are allowed to go ahead without proper government oversight. It shows a young woman wading along a water-covered path to her home after a nearby lake was filled in, flooding the area.

Kanika won an SLR camera and her photo will be used on the cover of Transparency International Cambodia’s report on the state of the country’s governance system, to be published later this year.

The two runners-up will receive free training sessions with highly regarded freelance photography and journalism collective Ruom.

The shortlisted entries are on display at Meta House until April 18.

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