Citizens will be able to post anonymous criticisms of local officials and comment on their conduct with a new mobile application developed jointly by the government and a corruption watchdog group.
The new application was announced on Thursday and will allow citizens to give their feedback on the delivery of public services, as well as the conduct of local officials. Pech Pisey, who heads Transparency International Cambodia, said the application will help improve essential services in response to public opinion.
“For example, [if] people were forced to pay extra in addition to the service; [more than] the amount set by the government, then people can have rights to file complaints,” he said.
The anonymity provided by the application — where commenters will only be identified using a code — will help citizens feel safe in being honest about their experiences, he added.
The transparency group said it was only managing the technical aspects of the application and that the Ministry of Interior, specifically commune officials, would respond to comments on the system.
Cambodian officials and law enforcement officers have been very sensitive to critical comments made by citizens, especially on social media platforms. Platforms like Facebook are heavily surveilled by the state with authorities reacting quickly to any dissent.
Former CNRP officials critical of the government’s Covid-19 response have been jailed or convicted, with local officials routinely forcing citizens to delete Facebook posts they deem inappropriate and sign contracts promising to stop such activities.
Buon Heng, an official at the Interior Ministry, said cooperation with civil society groups and donor organizations would help harness the use of technology, but pointed out that the application was only intended for complaints about administrative work including issuance of documents.
“Second, the app will have information on the behavior of our officials in providing those services and some complaints to authorities that need to be solved,” he said.
Heng did not answer questions from a VOD reporter about what incentive an alleged corrupt commune official would have to act on an allegation of wrongdoing against them. Transparency International’s Pisey had earlier said that other officials at the district and provincial level were also in the system but did not detail how complaints would be resolved by those higher up the chain.
Clarification: Organizers said the application was not ready for public use. A QR code to download the application was removed from this article on May 9, 2022.