Cambodia will not survive without outside intervention because Khmers cannot
govern themselves, a Khmer elder statesman and human rights activist has
Douc Rasy, a law lecturer in France, said the nearly $1 billion in
aid promised to the country at the International Conference on Reconstruction of
Cambodia (ICORC) in Tokyo early this month, will be frittered away unless donors
stipulate how the money should be spent.
"I don't trust the government,"
said Rasy, a member of Parliament from 1962 to 1972 who was asked by UNHCR to
return to Cambodia last month to offer recommendations and an analysis of
government efficiency to the National Assembly.
everywhere. Past situations show we do not have the tradition of a responsible
democratic government. They want profits," said Rasy who believes the foreign
aid will quickly disappear into pockets of government officials and conniving
Rasy, a former MP, UN diplomat and publisher of the Phnom
Penh Press (1962-1967), said he believes the government is incapable and inept
and that an international governing force is the country's only
"Little progress has been made since the elections, and Cambodia
should develop the infrastructure left by Untac," he said adding that he didn't
believe Untac had been "very efficient" while in the country.
couldn't penetrate the consciousness of Cambodia. They didn't understand the
people or the history here. They gave the government the idea that human rights
are luxury goods - human rights look like a prize for foreign
"However, we have to start somewhere, but nothing is happening. Only
35 percent of our people have any form of education. Cambodia needs lots of
technical and professional training. We need men [foreign experts] with skills
and personality, men who will be very firm, and will be able to explain 'this is
how you do it'."
One of the main hurdles the government needs to jump to
get the country back on track, is to increase government salaries, said Rasy.
"The main problem now is their [civil servants'] pay. A salary of $15 a
month is good for only four days. No civil servant can work for the public
interest when his head is outside, concerned about how he's going to survive. If
you can't pay the civil servants, the country has no arms and legs," he
Rasy's wife Seitha said:"You must have more educated ex-pats
working in the government to give confidence to investors."
continued, "They must be encouraged to return, but it's not going to happen," he
said referring to an Under Secretary of State and ex-pat whose spouse must work
abroad to supplement his $20 a month salary.
Seitha explained that
ex-pats are unofficially discouraged from returning, because many Khmers in high
positions make money illegally, through bribes or "under the table
transactions". Seitha said she feared ex-pats might try to wipe out the
corruption, or join in it themselves, leaving less money for those involved
Rasy, once an ambassador to four European countries, was appointed
by UNDP to lead a series of seminars on democracy from March 1 to May last year.