Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bridging the poverty gap

Bridging the poverty gap

Bridging the poverty gap

100125_16
Economist and Nobel laureate Eric S Maskin speaks with the Post at the Hotel Cambodiana last week.

Dear Editor,

I agree with Professor Eric Maskin, who says that Cambodia has been at risk from a growing gap between rich and poor (“Nobel laureate to push PM on school reform”, January 20).

An unbalanced distribution of the wealth of the nation has worried many scholars besides Maskin, including David Jonathan Gross, who is also a Nobel laureate.

Cambodia can be viewed from two perspectives: progressive by comparison and progressive in actuality. If we compare the Kingdom to the past, we can see that anti-colonialism, the Cold War and globalization have played a significant role in Cambodia’s recent history.

The era of Lon Nol and Pol Pot must be evaluated in light of global cold war politics and the opposition between communism and democracy. Cambodia had no peace during this period, and the intractable conflicts led to mass killings and foreign intervention.

Though the media have focused considerable attention on this part of the Kingdom’s history, qualitative and quantitative progress since that time has sometimes been overlooked.

The Paris Peace Accord of 1991 brought Cambodia a measure of economic liberalisation and global connectivity that differed greatly from the cold war era and Pol Pot’s regime.

But actual progress is more elusive. Maskin says that wide poverty gaps eventually lead to social deterioration. As well, Gross has addressed the importance of providing more opportunities to the Kingdom’s youth. The government must provide greater incentives to attract youths to public service.

Actual progress requires the good will of government leaders to develop genuine economic solutions for sustainability and a more just distribution of wealth; to promote democracy through a free and fair media; to safeguard the Kingdom’s natural resources and use them for the benefit of all Cambodians; to curb the mandate of power for top government leaders; to respect the Kingdom’s diverse ethnic minorities; to improve the quality of education and the opportunities for graduates entering the workforce.

Sophan Seng
University of Hawaii

Send letters to: [email protected] 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.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa