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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Allegations answered

Allegations answered

In the past years I had always refrained from commenting on Michael Vickery's polemic

letters to the editor of the Phnom Penh Post.

However, to call me an open "propagandist for FUNCINPEC" is an insult which

I am not willing to take without some words of protest and explanation.

First of all, as a scholar which Vickery always pretends to be he should prove such

a serious allegation in full detail.

Secondly, during my career in Cambodia as the country representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation

from 1994 to 1999, I tried indeed to be a "propagandist" - but only for

peace, the respect of human rights, for democracy and for the rule of law.

In that respect, I co-operated very closely with the Khmer Institute of Democracy

(KID) and other Cambodian NGOs working for a democratic future of Cambodia. When,

in the early 1990s, KID was threatened by the then two Co-Prime Ministers Hun Sen

and Prince Ranariddh who both wanted to close down KID I actively tried to defend

KID against these threats. As a consequence, I was warned by followers of both Hun

Sen and Ranariddh to keep out of this sensible issue. Finally, it was, in fact, the

King who saved KID.

When, in late 1995, the first preparations for the elections started I co-operated

mainly with the collaborators of the then Interior Minister Sar Kheng and I invited

Sar Kheng and a number of his assistants to Germany in order to study the various

German electoral systems. At that time, FUNCINPEC showed no particular interest in

the electoral issue and only one or two lower-ranking FUNCINPEC people joined the

study tour to Germany in 1996. Because of that, I was openly criticized by Prince

Ranariddh who believed that I had taken sides with the CPP.

Until the day I left Cambodia in mid-1999, Sam Rainsy (and perhaps Hun Sen, too,)

suspected that I had maintained a special relationship with Sar Kheng and his CPP

faction. Sar Kheng, on the other side, became very disillusioned with me after I

started to expose the irregularities and partiality in the work of the National Election

Committee and when I questioned the necessity of establishing the Cambodian Senate

(both institutions are Çbabies' of the Chea Sim / Sar Kheng clan).

Seen before this factual background it is difficult to follow Michael Vickery's fantasy

that I had been"openly a propagandist for FUNCINPEC".

In addition, Michael Vickery, who has proven in his numerous publications that he

is very close to the CPP and politically one-sided, should be very careful to call

others "propagandists" etc. because people in glass houses should not throw

stones.

Finally, I definitively do not need Vickery's advise to "take heed" of

"a racist ideology of a type which Longmuir's country, along with others, once

fought a World War to oppose". To begin with, I have never believed in nor supported

any racist ideology because racism only leads to human rights violations, terror

and destruction. Like most Germans who had been born after the end of the Nazi regime

I have studied in detail recent German history and I have learnt the lessons from

our and our neighbors tragic history. I had made that point crystal clear in quite

a number of lectures which I gave during my mission in Cambodia. Too, like the great

majority of German people I am not a potential or active racist who supports "an

opposition faction [which] espouses a racist ideology". During my career in

Cambodia I had on numerous occasions actively promoted tolerance, non-violence and

peace. Many Buddhist monks and laymen and many other Cambodians are witnesses of

these activities.

In my view, it is a scandal that someone openly one-eyed like Michael Vickery who

apparently still clings to an outdated Marxist-Leninist world view has been funded

by the international community (UNESCO) to teach Khmer students Khmer history at

Phnom Penh University. I wonder what kind of epistemological methods he is teaching

his students.

The fact that Michael Hayes and the Phnom Penh Post have printed the many one-sided

pro-CPP letters of Michael Vickery shows that - contrary to the allegations of Mr.

Vickery - neither the newspaper nor its soul have been "sold" to FUNCINPEC,

SRP or whatever Mr Vickery hallucinates.

In fact, the Phnom Penh Post deserves a high award for continuously reporting about

the dark sides of Cambodian politicians and some of their foreign supporters who

far too often turn a blind eye to blatant human rights violations, shameless impunity

in favor of the rich and mighty and very serious corruption within the ruling caste.

I can only encourage Michael Hayes and his staff to continue and develop the tradition

of a critical journalism for which the Phnom Penh Post has been well-known for years.

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