I profess I am not an economist so could someone please
enlighten me as to what factors and criteria determine the poor rate of pay for
locally recruited personnel.
Even when allowance is made for the dire
state of the economy it is ethically and politically difficult to account for
the vast discrepancy that exists between this low level of income and the huge
expenses on rent and other items serving less than collective
Rented villas generate thousands of dollars for their owners each
month, which is fine (I would probably have no cause to complain if I were the
owner in question). What I find rather sad is that a massive volume of money in
public income tax from the West should be so unjustly and wasterfully spent with
little regard to the net social and economic repercussions in Cambodia. Many of
the properties rented out were formerly state assets before they were
appropriated by powerful officials and their relatives in pre-UNTAC times, as
the state decided to part with the last vestiges of socialism. Other properties
were seized from less well-connected citizens more or less arbitrarily. With
this accumulated fortune, the nouveau riche are in an ever stronger position to
expand their economic base to the detriment of the rest of society. A new cycle
of power, abuse and enslavement is promoted with the asistance and knowledge of
people working under the umbrella of humanitarianism and international
It is ironic that these new land lords were precisely those
who, along with their Vietnamese advisors, contributed in no small part to the
isolation of the country throughout the 1980s with their siege mentality and
ideological hostility to "the nature and scope of activity" of the "subversive
and feared" agencies, otherwise known as aid organisations, just at a time when
international sympathy toward the suffering of the Cambodian people was at its
peak and international assistance critically needed.
Whilst most local
people are grateful that they are employed at all it is worth bearing in mind
that there may be only one bread-winner in a usually extended family, and they
may have been driven from the village by famine or sickness. On the other hand,
it is doubtful if helping the rich will make the poor better off as a
consequence. The emergence of new patterns of social disparities in this tragic
land is not an accident. The rich will go on spending their money on luxury
goods and other status symbol items, depositing it in safe foreign accounts
leaving the poor to go on being poor.
A recipient country will only
benefit when what it receives are not merely well meant, but well thought out
and well delivered.
- Marith Pen, England.