Cambodia

Ek Sonn Chan

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4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Ek Sonn Chan
Interviewee's Position
General Director
Interviewee's Organization
Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Ek Sonn Chan, the general director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, describes his role in providing clean and affordable water. The proper delivery of this service necessitated several reforms that he was able to implement using financial assistance and expertise from the international community.  First, Chan explains the restructuring of the management and the resistance that emerged from some employees and the media. He also points out the support they received from the political level, the World Bank and the new group of managers. Second, he discusses the self-reliance programs that consisted of staff training, measuring performance improvements and revising the water tariff to ensure the commercial sector could afford it. Chan also identifies the bill-collection problem, which was related to the performance of the collector, the fact that powerful people refused to pay their water bills, and the inefficiency of the water supply system. To resolve these issues, the water authority installed meters at every connection and all were required to pay their bills through a new automatic billing system. It also established an incentive system based on bonuses among the workers, introduced an internal discipline system with a penalty for violators, and set up a discipline commission for all levels of the organization to deal with corruption. 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Ek Sonn Chan was the general director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority. An electrical engineer by training, he previously served as the director of municipal commerce and as the director of Electricité du Cambodge. In 2006 Chan was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of his achievement in reforming the water supply authority.

Full Audio File Size
86.6MB
Full Audio Title
Ek sonn Chan Interview

Kao Kim Hourn

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6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Kao Kim Hourn
Interviewee's Position
Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Interviewee's Organization
Cambodia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Place (Building/Street)
University of Cambodia
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Kao Kim Hourn discusses Cambodia’s efforts to achieve peace and development since 1990, after more than a decade of civil strife in the wake of the Khmer Rouge era. He discusses the integration of members of the Khmer Rouge into society, and the reintegration of numerous political and military factions in Cambodia during the 1990s. He then discusses subsequent efforts to reduce poverty, develop infrastructure, build capacity, liberalize education, increase legislative activity, improve public administration and reduce the size of the military. He also talks about Cambodia's efforts to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Kao Kim Hourn, who holds a doctoral degree in political science and a master’s degree in Southeast Asian studies, was president and founder of the University of Cambodia, as well as secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He previously served as an adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as a member of the Supreme National Council. He was a personal adviser to the prime minister of Cambodia. He also was a pivotal figure in Cambodia’s inclusion in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as in the functioning of ASEAN itself. He also founded two think tanks: the Cambodian Public Accountability and Transparency Project and the Cambodian institute for Cooperation and Peace. 

Full Audio File Size
59.1MB
Full Audio Title
Kao Kim Hourn Interview

Sok Siphana

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9
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Sok Siphana
Interviewee's Position
Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
Government of Cambodia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Place (Building/Street)
Supreme National Economic Council
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Sok Siphana discusses Cambodia’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization and to implement economic reform and development domestically. He discusses Cambodia’s transition to a market economy.  Accession to the WTO offered an overarching goal that allowed the government to implement key reforms, including establishing legal frameworks protecting private property and regulating economic activity, standardizing government procedures with respect to foreign corporations, and overcoming entrenched interests. Siphana explains in detail the efforts of the WTO negotiation team to represent the Cambodian nation and to build consensus within the public sector, the private sector, the non-profit sector, international donors and the general populace. Siphana discusses the problems faced by Cambodia in these aims, including entrenched interests, political gamesmanship, lack of expertise and capacity building, bargaining inequality, language barriers and budgetary constraints.
Profile
At the time of the interview, Sok Siphana was adviser to the government of Cambodia. Between 1993 and 1999, he was employed as a legal adviser at the United Nations Development Programme. In 1999 he was appointed vice minister of commerce in Cambodia, where he was largely responsible for the nation’s accession to the World Trade Organization. After Cambodia’s successful accession to the WTO in 2004, he worked as director of technical cooperation at the International Trade Centre. Siphana holds a juris doctor degree from the Widener University School of Law and a doctoral degree in law from the Bond University School of Law. 
Full Audio File Size
105MB
Full Audio Title
Sok Siphana Interview

Kim Sedara

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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Kim Sedara
Interviewee's Position
Senior Researcher
Interviewee's Organization
Cambodia Development Resource Institute
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Kim Sedara comments on international donors who try to import reforms and models of governance into Cambodia without understanding the need to take context into account. He suggests that the task is not to build a system from scratch, but to fix and cure the problems of existing institutions. Referring to the challenges of institution building in his home country, he notes that Cambodia “is still very much in a post-conflict stage.” From the early 1970s to 2009, Cambodia went through at least six major political regimes, leading to numerous “institutional interruptions,” making it very difficult for the state to be responsive and accountable to its citizens, he says. The first challenge was to provide security; the second, food; the third, re-integration of formerly warring factions. He states that a major problem had been a shortage of professional talent, and an educational system poorly designed to correct it. He believes that the rule of law can be achieved only if it is internalized by the population, and that takes time. Sedara says corruption cannot be controlled until people are able to feed themselves and their families from their legitimate earnings. He suggests targeting four major reform areas: courts, the military, administration and public finance. Decentralization and de-concentration are part of administrative reform. Citing a World Bank report, Sedara says that 45 percent of post-conflict societies fall back into civil war within five years of emerging from conflict. Cambodia avoided this fate, and Sedara says he is hopeful for the future.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Kim Sedara was a senior researcher at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, an independent think tank in Phnom Penh. In 1994, he received a degree in archeology in Cambodia and another from the University of Hawaii in 1996. He won a 1998 Fulbright scholarship in 1998 and degrees in economics and political anthropology from the University of Illinois and Stanford. He earned a Ph.D. from Gothenburg University in Sweden in 2005. Sedara has written widely on issues of post-conflict reconstruction, elections, decentralization and deconcentration, and governance in Cambodia.

Full Audio File Size
43MB
Full Audio Title
Kim Sedara Interview

Ngo Hongly

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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Ngo Hongly
Interviewee's Position
Secretary-General
Interviewee's Organization
Council for Administrative Reform, Cambodia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Ngo Hongly describes steps taken in Cambodia to integrate formerly warring factions into a common civil service and to develop the capacity to deliver public services. In 1994, the government adopted a Common Statute of Civil Service and conducted a census to determine how many people actually worked for the civil service. It then began to rationalize the system and computerize pay rolls. In 2006, it adopted a four-point reform strategy to improve public service delivery, rationalize pay and employment, build capacity and improve public information. These were central reforms in a broader strategy aimed at greater transparency in government, improved accountability and performance, enhanced capacity, and better management of human resources. With full support from top leadership, the reform set high values on motivated public employees, professionalism and service to the public. He describes the challenges of decentralization and Cambodia’s experience with one-stop offices for services, as well as his attempts to improve the work environment, map clear career paths and systematize compensation.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Ngo Hongly was secretary general of the Council for Administrative Reform in Cambodia. After 20 years in the French private sector, he returned to Cambodia and worked from 1994-2003 as a consultant for the Cambodian government on administrative reform. In January 2004, he was appointed secretary-general of the Council for Administrative Reform (CAR), working directly under His Excellency Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the CAR under the direction of the Prime Minister Hun Sen. The council, active since 1999, engaged in various policy-making activities in the area of administrative reform.

Full Audio File Size
50MB
Full Audio Title
Ngo Hongly Interview

Thun Saray

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11
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Thun Saray
Interviewee's Position
President
Interviewee's Organization
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Thun Saray describes, from the point of view of a human-rights activist, reforms needed to achieve social stability and economic progress in Cambodia. He says that, even though Cambodia has enjoyed some of the highest economic growth rates in its region and made progress on several fronts, direct foreign investment and general economic development has been deterred by failures to implement the constitution and the many laws. He suggests that a key problem was corruption and unfairness in the court system, a result of low salaries and political party control. He argues that many farmers were dislocated from their land as part of concessions to domestic and foreign investors. He asserts that military corruption and military-owned businesses contributed to widespread deforestation and that the military still acted in its own right without adequate civilian control. He adds that social stability and broadly-based economic development could be achieved only if the income gap between the powerful and powerless was closed and government became more accountable.    

Profile

At the time of this interview, Thun Saray was the founding president of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, a non-governmental organization that, among other things, provides legal assistance to the poor. He was a political prisoner twice in his life: once under the Khmer Rouge regime for 10 months of so-called re-education, and once under the People’s Republic of Kampuchea for being involved in an attempt to form an opposition party. He worked at the Institute of Sociology in Phnom Penh during the 1980s.

Full Audio File Size
57MB
Full Audio Title
Thun Saray Imnterview

Yim Sovann

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12
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Yim Sovann
Interviewee's Position
Member of Parliament
Interviewee's Organization
Cambodia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Cambodian
Town/City
Phnom Penh
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Yim Sovann describes an initiative to reform Cambodia’s Finance Ministry and curb corruption in 1993-94. He says that when he joined the ministry as an assistant to the new minister, the treasury was bankrupt and inflation was running as high as 300%. Civil servants had not been paid for as long as four months, and there was no public finance law, no law regarding revenue collection or expenditures, no inventory of state assets and no anti-corruption law. The first task was to draft an entire complement of financial reform laws based upon past practices and outside experience. The greatest resistance came from high government officials engaged in non-transparent privatization of state assets and military groups engaged in illegal businesses and smuggling. He says that the ministry was successful in improving revenue collection and paying civil servants and soldiers. The minister’s resulting credibility enabled him to deal with soldiers to combat smuggling and corruption and to encourage ministry employees to enter positions and win promotions based upon merit. Corruption in the ministry virtually disappeared, he says. However, without top political support, such reforms could not endure. Many gains were lost after administrations changed.
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Yim Sovann was serving his third term as a member of Parliament for Phnom Penh. He was an assistant to the minister of finance during 1993-94, after which he studied in Japan for a degree in economics. He was elected to Parliament in 1998 after he had returned to Cambodia. 

Full Audio File Size
57MB
Full Audio Title
Yim Sovann Interview