COMMENTARY: The Basel Institute on Governance (BIG) Report
AKP Phnom Penh, May 12, 2012 –
The Basel Institute on Governance (BIG) Report:
Why Countries internationally known to be infested with terrorists and terrorist financing activities have better rankings than that of Cambodia?
The Phnom Penh Post, 10 May 2012, page 5 under the title: “Cambodia ‘ripe’ for money laundering” by Bridget Di Certo presumably expanded the Basel Institute on Governance (BIG) recent report on money laundering and terrorist financing in Cambodia from “highest risk level” to “‘ripe’ for”, and in so doing the reporter Bridget Di Certo implied a degree of certainty in money laundering and terrorist financing activities in Cambodia, which is said in the Basel report to be standing as the “third highest risk country” after Iran, which is the first highest risk country and another country among Kenya, Haiti, and Tajikistan, taking second place.
On the other hand the same report in the Phnom Penh Post, Khmer language, on the same date, on page 3 with the collaboration of Chhay Channida wildly accused and strongly asserted on its title that “Cambodia is infested with money laundering activities,” to be elaborated in its introduction saying that Cambodia is infested with money laundering and terrorist financing activities. In about three weeks before the communal election in Cambodia, the false interpretation of the Basel report by Bridget Di Certo and Chhay Channida in the Khmer language of the Phnom Penh Post seemed to be intentionally feeding into the campaign of intoxication mounted against the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian People’s Party but favoring other political parties.
If Bridget Di Certo and Chhay Channida stand by their story in Khmer language they had the obligation to expose those activities for public knowledge, otherwise they are excessively out of the line in their reporting of the Basel report. The intention to tarnish the reputation of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) is too much too obvious to ignore. In the latter case, a correction is warranted, at least, and at best a correction and an apology are required. The Phnom Penh Post should be in the position to know that:
1. Cambodia has for many years a Law on Money Laundering;
2. The Cambodian Government has a strong structure and mechanism to Counter Terrorist Act headed by Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister;
3. The Cambodian Government has so far successfully fought terrorism through its Prevention Strategy.
It is to be noted that the Basel report itself had conceded that “corruption and money laundering are secretive activities by nature, ‘so there’s always a huge challenge in finding out what the actual extent of the damage of money laundering is’.”
Despite the fact that the resulting scores by country are derived from 15 publicly available indicators, the risk level is not necessary a scientific indication that money laundering and terrorist financing activities exist or will take place in accordance with the country ranking shown in the Basel report. A high risk country by the Basel report ranking is not indicative that money laundering and terrorist financial activities exist or due to happen. A low risk country by the Basel report ranking is not indicative that money laundering and terrorist activities do not exist or not due to happen. Without any further elaboration, as it is happening in recent past as well as in the present in many countries (without having to name them), small scale money launderings are visible, and large scale money launderings are traceable, while terrorist activities make front page and flash on TV screen in the morning, during the day and at night. Actually, responsible developed and developing governments have integrated financial and political mechanisms to trace money laundering to terrorists and terrorist affiliated groups. Only irresponsible people and organizations tend to exaggerate their capabilities with false interpretation, and malicious accusation.
Due to the fact that the RGC is successful in cooperating with the international community, especially the US in clamming down and preventing terrorist activities within her border, it is seen that “this” Basel report lack objectivity as far as Cambodia is concerned. It would be fair and reasonable if ranking of scores of terrorist criminal activities are published side by side with “this” Basel ranking.
How come in this Basel Institute on Governance report, countries that are fomenting terrorist criminal activities, harboring foreign terrorists, and turning blind eyes to terrorist financing activities, small and large scale have their ranking better than that of Cambodia?
11 May 2012
Prof. Pen Ngoeun
Advisor to the University of Puthisastra
Hand phones: 855 97 70 116 70
(The comments are solely the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Government of Cambodia.)