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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia's rulers 'like gods in Valhalla'

Cambodia's rulers 'like gods in Valhalla'

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cambodia.jpg

The main problem with politics in Cambodia is having a Lexus Constitution when what

is really needed is a second-hand Toyota, according to author Margaret Slocombe,

who has lived and worked in Cambodia since 1988 and is about to return to Australia.

Brooklyn-born journalist and kung fu fighter Antonio Graceffo is playing the bad guy in a movie made in Cambodia, called Krabai liek goan (Buffalo protects child). In the film, he makes life hard for the hero, Khmer boxing champion Eh Phoung Thoung. Although Graceffo has been teaching martial arts in Asia for many years, he has never starred in a movie. The movie will open in Phnom Penh cinemas by the end of July. - Staffan Lindberg.

"The Constitution is unreasonable in terms of the development of Cambodia,"

she told the Post.

"It is too grand and democratic, the standards are set too high for this little

country. In developed countries we don't even have constitutions because we have

an independent judiciary which we trust."

She said that since the 1997 coup the country had experienced a period of considerable

stability, investment and reasonable growth. "But we've seen powerful people

taking outrageous liberties with the positions they have, particularly in terms of

the land grabbing, which has been done with no concern for the rights and welfare

of small people. We now have a huge gap between rich and poor which I think is unbridgeable.

"You go into the countryside and see the poverty. It's appalling, and getting

worse in many areas. And you contrast that with the wealth in the city."

The final chapter of Slocombe's book The People's Republic of Kampuchea 1979-89;

the revolution after Pol Pot, quotes a man comparing people to grass. "They

get cut and bruised and are expected to bounce back," Slocombe said.

Slocombe said she likened Cambodian's top politicians to the Greek gods:

"They do what they like, they exist on another higher plane, they believe they

have rights which usurp the true rights of the masses, they sit up there in Valhalla,

eat grapes, love their wenches, count their money and occasionally hurl down thunderbolts

to remind the masses who they are."

Prime Minister Hun Sen was "a very smart man, inherently intelligent. He has

done some great things for his country. But now he controls the flow of wealth, the

army and the police."

She said the Cambodian People's Party was a party with a core that was created from

a front. "CPP is a model political machine; it will last for a long time. CPP

does business together, like a big family: I don't think they will break ranks."

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