A delegation from Laos’ State Inspection Authority (SIA) is currently paying a visit to their Cambodian counterparts – the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) – to acquire important skills in the work of rooting out corruption, with both sides expected to sign a five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The four-day visit, scheduled for June 20-23, followed an invitation from ACUY chief Om Yentieng. The six-member Laos delegation is led by SIA chief Khamphanh Phommathth.

“The Laos delegation will learn about the main activities of the ACU, including investigations, education, prevention and budget work. They will also visit important cultural sites like the Royal Palace and National Museum, as well as major economic bases like the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the Preah Srey Icanavarman Museum and the Phnom Penh International Airport,” said an ACU press release.

In addition, they will meet with Men Sam Orn, Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection and vice-chair of the National Anti-Corruption Council.

Transparency International (TI) Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said improved anti-corruption cooperation between Cambodia and Laos is a positive, as both countries can learn from and share experiences with each other, as the context, culture, governance and state systems of the two neighboring countries share some similarities.

He also noted the positive development of Cambodia’s fight against corruption, and attributed it to the work done by the ACU, other state institutions and various stakeholders.

“Cambodia is fighting against corruption under the framework of the UN Convention against Corruption [UNCAC]. The mechanisms and strategies that Cambodia has implemented through the UNCAC can be shared with Laos,” he added.

He called on the government to continue to strengthen its anti-corruption mechanisms, especially with regard to the implementation of principles of access to information, the law on the protection of journalists and the law on the protection of victims and witnesses.

Cambodia ranked 150th out of 180 countries in terms of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of 2022 released by TI in late January, while Laos ranked 126th.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, explained that as Laos and Cambodia are developing countries, so they need to root out corruption as it hinders the nation-building process.

“I think Laos and Cambodia can learn from each other and must step up the fight against corruption more actively and effectively,” he said.

He added that the cooperation between the two countries in the field of anti-corruption demonstrates the comprehensive cooperation between them.

This is the third time the SIA have paid a visit to the ACU, with the two previous visits talking place in 2014 and 2018. The visits followed the signing of a 2013 MoU between the two anti-corruption bodies.