Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aid to AIDS

Aid to AIDS

Aid to AIDS

Dear Editor,

Congratulations for your interview with the Chief of the Word Bank's Cambodia Country

Office, Bonadventure Mbida-Essama, (PPP, 10/20). It clearly shows donor attitudes

toward development assistance have not changed much for the past four decades, despite

worn-out rhetoric on poverty reduction. It confirms the main objective of foreign

aid is really for something else other than genuine benefits to recipient countries.

The Chief claims "an intensive level of coordination" is seen among the

Cambodia's benefactors; yet when asked about fund misappropriation due to corruption

in the country, he insists it isn't World Bank money while acknowledging its existence.

It will not be surprising if other donors make a similar insistence. It would be

interesting to learn though why, when it comes to the corruption issue, everyone

will act on their own. One can only wonder how intensive the coordination needs to

become before one could see a concerted effort to minimise waste and damages due

to corruption.

The donors' focus on controlling corruption is a pre-requisite for any long lasting

benefits of their aid to recipients. Everyone knows that corruption has always been

a major cause for a severely distorted income distribution, and hence, poverty. Yet,

it is routinely ignored as the real objective of the foreign aid as for things other

than addressing income gap and social injustice.

It is difficult to say when Cambodia will stop needing assistance. It is simply a

logical conclusion to the fact that there is no genuine effort to reduce the need

for handouts. A proper poverty reduction plan would necessarily incorporate what

needs to be done within a defined time frame, and criteria for outcome evaluation.

Failure to achieve set pre-determined targets within a defined time would involve

too much hassle with best-ignored issues like performance review, accountability,

and responsibility to the recipient countries.

Cambodia ... would forever rely on foreign handouts unless the real objectives and

attitudes of the donor countries changes beyond lip service. A genuine development

assistance under the Consultative Group would set corruption and lawlessness as top

priorities, not the ad-hoc approach to a feel-good infrastructure development. A

well-coordinated program among benefactors would force a genuine income redistribution

to ensure that the national wealth and economic growth will fairly benefit most,

if not all, Cambodians. A responsible development program would stop depriving the

Cambodian government of its own accountabilities and responsibilities. It should

begin with the fact that Cambodia is not a resource-poor country, but income from

national resources has been severely skewed in favour of a select few.

Any real success in poverty reduction would make the business of the World Bank irrelevant.

They would not be able to maintain their brilliant triple A rating without little

people at the bottom to bear the brunt of the costs in the long run. A cynic would

say they need to keep the poor poor to make their poverty reduction program attractive.

Others would say it is not really difficult to go from aid to AIDS: all it needs

is some donor making their aid plural.

- Ung Bun-Ang, The SRP Australia/New Zealand

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s