T HE government has turned up the volume in its war of words with Sam Rainsy,
accusing the former finance minister of being illogical and irresponsible in his
criticism of Cambodia's business dealings.
In an 11-page report that
displays officials' peaking annoyance with the maverick MP, the government
blasts Rainsy for making "a number of unsubstantiated assertions which appear to
be based on rumor and hearsay. Under the rule of law, allegations without proof
are irresponsible and unethical."
The document, released to the media on
March 7, attempts to refute Rainsy's criticisms point-by-point, but the main
reproach is the ex-minister lacks hard evidence.
Rainsy has been waging
a vociferous campaign against a lack of transparency he perceives in recent
deals between the government and foreign companies.
He says ministers
have been by-passed in the "dubious" signing of contracts that are
unconstitutional and have been kept secret by the Cambodia Development Council
and the two Prime Ministers.
He alleges the rules of public tender have
been ignored and secret logging concessions and other guarantees granted, he
Only dubious investors, resorting to bribery, would agree to forego
laws to take advantage of such a confused and lawless situation, he
On March 2, Rainsy published a list of companies he claimed had
disrupted "free and fair competition."
He said the Malaysian-owned
Cambodian Lottery Corporation (CLC), had "ousted" French company Internationale
Des Jeux to run the national lottery.
In response, the government says
the CLC is running a private lottery and a decision on the national lottery has
yet to be made. Further, it accuses the ex-minister of signing a memorandum of
understanding with the French company without government authorization.
Rainsy claimed Muhibbah-Masteron (Malaysia), ousted Dumez-GTM (France)
for the Pochentong airport renovation.
The government counters that the
tender to renovate the airport had not been awarded as of March 6, and lashed
Rainsy for publicly commenting on a process that was not yet complete.
Rainsy also said Ariston (Malaysia), had ousted Hyatt (US) for a tourism
complex in Sihanoukville.
The government revealed Hyatt had submitted a
two-page document, which was disqualified for failing to meet the tender
conditions, while Ariston submitted a 300-page package which addressed all the
Rainsy said OTC-Telstra is enjoying a monopoly
over international telecommunications because of the government's lack of "a
global, coherent" strategic plan.
The government failed to respond to the
allegation, but claims the deal between OTC-Telstra and the Ministry of Post and
Telecommunications directs profits into the national treasury.
alleged petroleum distributor SOKIMEX enjoyed powerful political support and
engaged in illegal practices - such as fraud, smuggling and under-declaring -
with total impunity.
"For many years, SOKIMEX has been a major financial
supporter of the communist party which the Vietnamese installed in power in
January 1979 and now it bribes leaders from all sides."
did not respond to the accusation, but praised SOKIMEX as a successful
"first-mover" in the oil business, saying it had been smart to pick up some of
the most favorable locations and industry positions in the
Rainsy said the Royal Air Cambodge (RAC) deal with Malaysian
Helicopter Services meant a loss of state revenue, because the money collected
was independent from the state.
The government asserts it will receive 60
per cent of all RAC profits, once it makes any.
In addition, it denied
it had received an unconstitutional loan from the Malaysian company, saying the
government preferred to call it a "financial arrangement" under which no money
actually flowed into Royal Government accounts.
"So it must be concluded
no loan has taken place," the government report states.
Rainsy said he
was alarmed by the alleged granting of vast forestry concessions, similar to
that given to Malaysian company Samling Corp. Logging revenues should add $150
million to state coffers; however, the 1995 budget anticipates only a $1.5
million income, he said.
The government insists the only forestry
concession is the one granted to Samling, which it says has been required to
submit a master plan and an environmental impact assessment before starting
The companies most quickly established have been in the areas
of importing cigarettes and alcohol; smuggling; gambling; bars and prostitution;
fake banks; real-estate speculation; and in timber, Rainsy said.
ex-minister said Cambodian leaders were accountable to the international
"Cambodians must show that they are making real efforts to
curb corruption in their country," he said, adding it should be a condition of
further international aid "out of respect to the tax-payers of the donor
"Unhappily, it is very difficult to demonstrate that we have
made serious efforts in this direction and we have little chance of convincing
"Encouraging the professional and moral slackness of
the Cambodian leaders will only prolong Cambodia's misery and dependency and
will deceive those who are willing to support a good cause," he
Countered the government: "Cambodia is less than a two year old
'reborn country.' We do not claim perfection in anything."