I read with great disappointment and concern the article "A Future in Balance" by Rod Brazier, the outgoing country director for the Asia Foundation (Phnom Penh Post May 21). In the article, Brazier blames members of the international community in Phnom Penh for being "terribly ignorant about the political economy of Cambodia".
To make his case stronger, he unconvincingly includes himself among those members of the "ignorant" international community. What is more baffling, for a person who has falsely confessed to being ignorant, he goes on to describe in detail what is going in Cambodia, namely that Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) "enjoys widespread support today owing to the stability and economic growth that have occurred in recent years. Outside, it's not well understood that this government is truly very popular, despite some authoritarian tendencies".
Yet by accusing the international community in Phnom Penh of being ignorant of the political economy of Cambodia, Brazier runs contrary to many reports and articles from local and international NGOs. These include the recent report titled "Cambodia: Country for Sale" by [environmental watchdog] Global Witness, the many reports on human rights abuses by the United Nations special representative in Cambodia, and a recent article in the Post titled "Cambodia's curse" by Professor Joel Brinkley of Stanford University on how Hun Sen regime is corrupt and how the legal and judicial system [in Cambodia] is nonexistent. In that same article, Hun Sen was reported to have his own golf course and private army of bodyguards.
It is well-known that Cambodia still does not have an anti-corruption law. Also, a recent report on human rights by the US State Department highlighted the abuse of human rights in Cambodia under Hun Sen. Finally; there are still no answers to the many political assassinations of members of the political opposition parties, journalists and union leaders.
Is this the same Cambodia that Rod Brazier has found "all round, a very good picture for a country that was still at war with itself little more than a decade ago"?
In view of the above observations on the situation, I suggest that either Brazier is not a good observer or his standard of morality and good performance is different from a generally well-accepted standard that is used by most of those whose writings are mentioned by me earlier.
Dr Naranhkiri Tith
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