G ordon Longmuir, the former Canadian Ambassador to Cambodia, has been dropped from
a Canadian-government funded project to assist the National Assembly due to concerns
about alleged political bias and disregard for human rights during his 1996-1999
Longmuir had been selected as the in-country Field Director of a five-year, $3.25
million dollar Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Legislative Support
Project executed by the Parliamentary Center, an Ottawa-based NGO.
Neither Longmuir nor Bob Miller, Parliamentary Centre Executive Director, responded
to Post enquiries about Longmuir's dismissal.
CIDA officials in Bangkok confirmed that Longmuir had lost the job.
"I do not know why Gordon is not being considered [for continuing in the position],"
Nipa Banerjee, CIDA's Head of Aid for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, told the Post
by email. "It is possible he is not interested. It is also possible that on
the basis of their findings, the Parliamentary Center decided that...they would require
a person with a different profile than Gordon."
Longmuir's appointment had attracted criticism from opposition legislators, former
diplomats and Cambodian human rights workers who alleged that as Canadian Ambassador
Longmuir had turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in the wake of the 1997 coup
and had adopted a blatant anti-opposition bias that undermined his diplomatic credibility.
A Phnom Penh-based source close to the CIDA project said that allegations raised
in an April 13-26 Post article about the controversy had seriously embarrassed CIDA
and the Parliamentary Centre and forced them to take drastic action.
"The Ottawa-based CIDA personnel were familiar with Gordon from his term as
ambassador here and hadn't supported his hiring by the Parliamentary Centre from
the beginning," the source said. "After the [Post ] article came out Bill
Miller was forced to talk to some of the people who voiced concerns about Gordon."
The issue has also taken a toll on Ottawa-based CIDA personnel who initially approved
Liane Sauer, who admitted during a Post interview that she had been aware of concerns
about Longmuir's involvement with the project but refused to clarify whether she
had made her CIDA superiors aware of the controversy, has, according to Banerjee,
left CIDA "of her own volition".