The opinion expressed about NGOs on pg.12 of the March 12-27 issue of the Phnom Penh
Post by "Dr" Bharat Jhunjhunmara is one more evidence that too many "consultants"
or "experts" speak without basic knowledge of the real world, giving emphatic
advise or opinions built on a mountain of misunderstanding or heavy ignorance of
their subject! When reading the funny but irritating text of this "consultant
to Indian NGOs and donors" (yes, it does exist!), we can just wonder whether
he is serious and independently speaking or just running for some people willing
to shoot down NGOs in Cambodia... If his consultant fees paid to result in such an
"analysis" of NGOs' nature and motivations overtake $1, it is wasted money!
One could have expected more correct understanding of the irreplaceable present role
of NGOs from somebody claiming to have obtained a PhD in a North-American university...
"Dr" Bharat analyses the NGOs' motivations as based on a will of power
and as open corruption, otherwise they wouldn't exist as organizations: following
the Indian model recommended by him, only individuals seeking self-improvement should
act. Is he serious? Has he ever looked outside his office? Without collective action,
"Dr" Bharat, we might well wait dozens of years to witness any significant
improvement of the developing countries' situation... Not all of them gather the
assets of Singapore! Look at India, to start with! "Dr" Bharat, your analysis
ability seems to work like the one of the people that cause so many suffering throughout
the world, since they consider the whole life mainly (exclusively?) throughout two
factors: power and money. No, Sir! You are definitely wrong! NGOs aren't organizations
built on a desire of power! NGOs are a Western-born concept of which you obviously
don't understand anything.
To present NGOs as organizations equally of corruption as political parties is a
heavy insult! There might be some isolated cases (I defy you to give us accurate
names, facts and figures) but the general rule is honesty and real commitment to
do good. At the opposite of a scandalously widely spread belief, not all NGOs have
highly paid staff (like you?) and operate at a costly level. And we can just laugh
at you when you indiscriminately criticize the use of cars (do you recommend the
use of traditional oxcarts to go from Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri?), computers (do you
recommend to go back in time with the use of old rattling typewriters?), bank deposits
(do you recommend to hide money under the beds and in the coffee pots) and air tickets
(do you recommend to travel by bicycle from the USA or Europe to Cambodia?). Ridiculous!
Condemning modern ways of working (except for some exaggerations in car fleets) betrays
your inability to speak about NGOs (among other subjects), except Indian ones maybe,
which I don't know...
Luckily, serious donors don't listen to analyses as wrong as yours. Before writing
what you have in the Post, you should have personally made a serious and Western-level
documented survey on a sufficient number of legal NGOs, discussed with HE Suy Sem
or HE Heng Them at the ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Veterans Affairs, and
have interviews at the highly competent and committed Cooperation Committee for Cambodia
(CCC), a truly efficient organization (previously headed by a really competent Indian!)
to which almost all international and some local NGOs active in Cambodia are keen
to adhere as a standard of seriousness and respect of the Cambodian law. CCC-member
NGOs are proud to help the Cambodian government in fulfilling its social aims, as
stated in all the protocols of agreement obligatorily signed between these NGOs and
their line ministries (have you ever read one of these protocols "Dr"?);
you obviously haven't done the basic researches linked to any serious consultant
work but working in the closed virtual universe of your own office. This is why,
fortunately, your cheap and wrong "analysis" has already "gone with
However, one must admit that the tremendous amount of money fortunately brought in
the country by NGOs from generous donors to help the government develop Cambodia
gives some power to a handful of them.
As a consequence, these NGOs indeed happen to use their concern for the poor people's
basic interests to draw attention of the authorities when mistakes are (about to
be) made... If this is what you denounce as a taste for power, you are right: these
organizations must feel that it is damned good to be powerful enough to prevent poor
people from being abused and, on the other hand, to assist the government in reaching
its pertinent development targets!
Would you dare to openly criticize this ?
Mind your answer, "Doctor"...
- Alain Henry de Frahan, Phnom Penh.