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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In reply:

In reply:

O thers can judge whether my article was a "rant" full of "scatter-gun innuendo"

but I wish to make a few factual points:

1. I referred to "17 years of blanket socialist-communist propaganda"

precisely because from April 1975 to early 1992 the only officially permitted

media in Cambodia espoused some form of (however misunderstood) socialism or

communism; something no-one can deny. To impute from this that I see no

difference between the DK and PRK is nonsense, as is the imputation that I am

therefore "in the camp of Stephen Morris" involved "in mischievous attacks on

its director Ben Kiernan". The only point I wished to make, having read much of

this stuff, is that it is extremely difficult to find any significant resonance

of it (DK or PRK variety) anywhere in the post-election, Khmer-language media or

indeed, to the limited extent that I can judge, in the popular perceptions of

ordinary Cambodians, including those who worked many years for the PRK/SoC. I am

not passing any judgment whatsoever on Michael Vickery's work on the PRK or

indeed on the DK.

2. Why Dr. Vickery assumes I, as someone he has never met, cannot read

Khmer is beyond me.

3. FUNCINPEC and CPP very publicly announced an alliance in November

1991, the anniversary of which continues to be celebrated today. The CPP

reverted to state-authorized violence against FUNCINPEC precisely at the point,

exactly a year later, when the informal cooperation between the two sides had,

for whatever reason, broken down. Previously, SoC violence had been concentrated

on the BLDP which was then the one major party unwilling to reach some sort of

accommodation and engaged in outright criticism of the CPP. The level and nature

of (non-DK) political violence thereafter largely followed a nationwide pattern

which strongly suggested some central coordination; the extent of violence

substantially depending on the perceived political threat to the CPP. That local

SoC figures, both in the police and military, were involved in the pre-election

violence is undeniable, as numerous cases from Battambang, where I was then

working, showed. It is also undeniable that SoC failed to take any action

against people identified as involved in such violence and that the SoC police

were routinely and officially involved in the surveillance of "opposition" party


- David Ashley, Phnom Penh



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