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More than words

Police officers grapple with hundreds of Mu Sochua supporters as they march en masse through the streets of Phnom Penh after the opposition lawmaker was found guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month.

Dear Editor,

In reference to your article "EU condemns government crackdown" (August 10 2009), it was truly disappointing to read that high-ranking representatives of the EU and its member states, such as British Ambassador Andrew Mace and German Ambassador Frank Marcus Mann, have nothing more to offer than a "very clear statement to the Cambodian government".

I am sure that no one has ever made the effort to count all such very clear statements to the Cambodian government that have been made during the last year - or probably decades. However, everyone who has been following the development of Cambodian politics in recent times will certainly be well aware of the fact that all these very clear statements to the Cambodian government have done nothing, absolutely nothing at all, to improve the situation here in this beautiful but suffering country. Corruption is still endemic, critics of the government are still living in fear for their security, and the elites are still getting richer and more powerful each day, while the poor members of society have, if at all, only made much smaller progress in their personal welfare than they could have done in a just and truly democratic environment with equal opportunities for all.

The EU represents 500 million people and generates a GDP that is larger than that of the US. Moreover, the EU member states have given countless millions of dollars of what they call development aid to the Cambodian government in the past few years, and they have promised to continue funding for years to come.

Considering all this, one might be tempted to think that the Cambodian government could easily be influenced by the EU in such a way that they finally start working towards a fair and democratic society. However, as can be seen each and every day in today's Cambodia, this is not at all the case, which leaves only two possible explanations: either the EU is in reality just a weak and meaningless political entity, or it simply lacks the political will to change anything to the good here. Either way, being a European myself, I feel truly ashamed by the political role that the EU is playing here in Cambodia.

Jean Montago
Siem Reap

Send letters to: or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.



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