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The Anakut podcast: The state of democracy in Cambodia and ASEAN

This week, Transparency International Cambodia’s executive director, Pech Pisey, joins Meng and Andrew in the studio to discuss that hottest of topics in the Kingdom today – the state of democracy and corruption in Cambodia

Written By:
November 19, 2020
The Anakut podcast: The state of democracy in Cambodia and ASEAN

Welcome back to another episode of Anakut. 

We’re getting to the home stretch in our eight-episode run of our very first podcast. If you’ve been listening in, we want to hear from you – what do you like about the show? What could we do better for the next round? Drop us an email or hit us on social media with your thoughts!

This week, it’s all about democracy. We sat down with Pech Pisey, executive director from Transparency International Cambodia (TI) about the state of play here in Cambodia. 

As an organisation, TI does a lot. At any given moment they’re running various capacity-building programmes around Cambodia, working with local communities to build their understanding of democratic practices. That includes a collaboration with Politikoffee, where Meng spends most of her working hours, and other outreach to Cambodian youth.

We wanted to hear Pisey’s view from that grassroots perspective, but we were also curious to hear what he had to say about TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, among the organisation’s main initiatives. TI compiles the annual index ranking countries by how widespread people perceive corruption to be, scoring using the feedback and collaboration of local political and civil society observers. 

Cambodia consistently sits near the bottom of this list and the lowest in Southeast Asia, meaning the perceptions of those polled in-country rank the Kingdom as among the most corrupt in the world.

It’s not a place you want to be, and it has real implications for the state of democratic governance here. We asked Pisey to explain what goes into Cambodia’s ranking on this index to better understand the mechanics behind that, then pushed the discussion back to the core of democratic practice in the Kingdom.

Pisey dismissed any notion of “Cambodian democracy”, or perhaps what some might call democracy with Cambodian features, that eschews civil rights

Pisey was candid with us about what his organisation sees happening today. He dismissed any notion of “Cambodian democracy”, or perhaps what some might call democracy with Cambodian features, that eschews civil rights.

To that effect, he said Cambodia today does not practice democracy in a meaningful way. We talked at length about the restriction of civil society, including the repression of protesters escalated since the July arrest of unionist Rong Chhun.

In the view of TI, the values of democracy, the mix of protected rights and civil liberties that allow people to participate in their governance without fear, are inextricable from the mechanics of democratic governance.

That sounds well and good, but reaching that state is easier said than done, so we wanted to know what specifically Cambodia can do now to reach a more democratic tomorrow.

From the helm of nationwide programmes making that happen, Pisey was able to give us an insider look at just what’s happening on the ground to instill these vital democratic principles.

Scroll back up and hit play to listen in to the conversation.

All episodes of the podcast can be found on our Anakut webpageAmazon, Apple, Google and Spotify.

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