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Foreign aid as a lever

Dear Editor,

Three years ago, in the months following Hun Sen's coup, there was a call to suspend

all foreign aid. In some instances aid was suspended, but by and large the aid continued

to pour in.

A former Australian ambassador defended the continued aid by claiming that if aid

was cut the donor nations would no longer have this lever to effect change in Cambodian

government policy. The ambassador led us to believe that the Cambodian Government

could be coerced or persuaded to act one way or another by offering more aid or threatening

to withhold aid.

So for three years we wait to see this lever put to use. For three years the lever

lies idle as the corruption continues ... the temples are ransacked and looted, the

forests are denuded, the borders are impinged upon and the beaches are used as a

toxic waste dump. For three years the human rights abuses continue, labor rights

are trampled, child prostitution becomes rife and the transshipment of drugs through

Cambodia goes not only unpunished, but apparently with some official approval

Now, after three long years sitting idle, we finally see the lever put to use; the

Japanese embassy uses the mighty power of their foreign aid to lever a Japanese pedophile

pervert out of prison! And apparently it is not an isolated case, as the Post's article

indicated in the quote by Chanthol Oung, director of the Cambodian Women's Crisis

Center. Oung states "...all the cases involving foreigners accused of sexually

exploiting children, we usually recognize the role of embassies attempting to influence

the [legal] process."

This "foreign aid as a lever" thing continues to mystify me. At this rate

foreign aid might lever Cambodia into a new hell.

- Bert Hoak, Anchorage, Alaska



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