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Downie replies

Dear Sir,

Richard Briggs' letter "Meddling West" (PPP, June 17) is not

only inaccurate, biased and defamatory, but nothing more than - to use his word

- "sludge." I am disappointed the Post is publishing his depressingly

predictable drivel.

His "hopeless gush" accuses several writers, myself

included, of supporting the CPP, and of "tackiness" (could the same accusation

not be leveled against him?)

For the record, I began reporting in Cambodia in 1988 and in April 1990

became resident correspondent for UPI (and later for Radio Australia). Mr Briggs

seems to have fallen for the often mistaken view that, as I was physically on

this side of the border, I was politically on the side of the PRK/CPP.

The reason UPI based a correspondent here was to balance reporting from

the border and Bangkok, hence many of my reports were merged with those of the

UPI bureau chief in Bangkok to give a balanced and more realistic account of

what was happening in Cambodia at a time when news from Phnom Penh was difficult

to obtain and analyze.

I also visited the border and, whenever I went to Bangkok, I made a point of

meeting resistance personalities - who now hold the positions of Prime Minister,

Minister, Secretary of State and Under Secretaries.

I forget how many times Mr. Briggs has poured out his heart in the columns of

the PPP but I will cheerfully add his letter to my file of letters accusing me

of bias towards Funcinpec, KPNLF, and even the KR.

While I continue to get such accusatory letters from across the political

spectrum, I remain happy that I am continuing to do a professional job.

Professional writers expect such accusations, but to criticize two

senior aid workers who have devoted so much to helping Cambodians begs the

question: what has Mr Briggs contributed to the reconstruction.

One day perhaps we will have the pleasure of reading a well-constructed and

well-argued letter by Mr Briggs, or even a properly researched - unbiased -

article. Then we can gain a closer understanding of the mental process by which

he comes to these extraordinary conclusions.

- Sue Downie, UPI

correspondent

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