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Groupie-like gushing

Mr Benny Widyono perpetuates one of the notable myths of the 1998 election in his opinion "Perhaps another miracle on the Mekong" (PPP, August 1, 2003), by misquoting former US Representative Stephen Solarz.

As leader of the joint IRI-NDI delegation to that election, Solarz said that if opposition charges of irregularities proved unfounded, history could one day call the election a "miracle on the Mekong".

As we know, the charges of improprieties were not proved unfounded: both the NEC and the Constitutional Council refused to consider the vast majority of them, setting the stage both for demonstrations and for the subsequent violent crackdown by police bullies and ruling party thugs.

Solarz himself, in an opinion piece published just over a month later in the Washington Post, said that the election "may not have been, as I had originally hoped" a miracle on the Mekong. I questioned Solarz in a public meeting in Washington shortly after the election on this point and he replied, "I may have made a serious mistake."

I was in Phnom Penh during Widyono's time with the UN and noticed his groupie-like gushing over Hun Sen and his constant defending of the Cambodian strongman at every opportunity.

The New York Times and many others have rendered Solarz's comments accurately. Widyono should do likewise.

The real miracle on the Mekong will be when the Cambodian voters are allowed to vote without being harassed, intimidated and threatened by the CPP.

- Ron Abney - Cochran, Georgia, USA

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