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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A doctor's misdiagnosis

A doctor's misdiagnosis

Dear Editor,

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

the wind"...

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.

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