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Speak More Loudly, Whistleblowers Urged

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Although public complaints have provided an important channel to learn about and help address corruption, the government needs to boost informants’ confidence so they are more forthcoming.

That was the message from the State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority (SIAA) and other public and private sectors at a seminar held yesterday in Vientiane to share national, regional and international experience on corruption complaints.

SIAA’s Complaints and Requests Resolution Department Director, Mr. Vila Chithoublok, said We have received public complaints, the majority of which come from so-called good citizens, who have been unnamed.

For example, we received a complaint about the embezzlement of state money by some Huaphan provincial finance officials from the Department of Education and Sports, who were prosecuted under the law, Mr. Vila added.

Complaints about maladministration and corruption are submitted through complaint boxes located in various government agencies and departments.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, SIAA Vice President Mr. Vilayvanh Boutdakham said corruption was a harmful activity that caused great loss to the public interest and was an obstacle to development. He noted the government had been strengthening anti-corruption measures through the development and amendment of legislation and improving organisational mechanisms.

Mr. Vilayvanh said the practice of handling complaints and petitions was defined by law, notably the Law on Handling Petitions, and this had led to successful anti-corruption activities.

According to an official from the National Assembly (NA), 80 percent of public complaints raised through the NA’s telephone hotline provided factual information on corruption activities.

A representative from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the meeting about the case of a Chamber member who ran a transport business. Government officials stopped and checked all of his vehicles but failed to check other vehicles travelling on the same road.

This happened after he had highlighted misconduct involving government officials.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime gave the view that although levels of corruption are reportedly high, few complaints are made. Authorities believe there is a need to improve communication between citizens and businesses on the one hand and competent authorities in receiving corruption reports on the other.

A seminar participant from a non-government organisation suggested the need for a clear process concerning government practices against corrupt officials to build people’s confidence and trust in government action.

He said he heard about officials being punished for embezzlement, but did not know what punishment they received.

 

Source: Vientiane Times