Cambodian minister orders clampdown on firefighters demanding bribes

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California fires

dpa/GNA – A top Cambodian minister has ordered a clampdown on corrupt firefighters who demand bribes for dousing blazes, local news reported on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng instructed the country’s provincial governors to stamp out the practice, and encouraged residents to report corruption among the emergency service workers.

“You must not take money on the missions. Do not do it as a business for yourself. It is not right,” he said, the Khmer Times reported.

“I ask all capital and provincial authorities to pay attention to check the problem, solve the problem and do not let it happen.”

Cambodia is among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.

The organization’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, released last week, ranked Cambodia third worst in the Asia-Pacific region, behind only Afghanistan and North Korea.

Difficulties with firefighting in the country go beyond graft, however, with poor quality equipment and small roads, particularly in the capital Phnom Penh, posing challenges, Sar Kheng acknowledged.

According to government statistics cited by the Khmer Times, there were 937 fires in 2020, which killed 24 people and injured 36. The main cause was electrical faults, followed by incense burners.

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