Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cozying up to Burma




Cozying up to Burma

Cozying up to Burma

The Editor,

It's been a busy time on the Burma scene. Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has led

a Cambodian delegation of ministers on a visit with General Than Shwe, leader of

the SLORC regime governing Burma, Amnesty International has issued a report calling

1996 the worst year for human rights in Burma since the bloody suppression of the

Burmese pro-democracy movement in 1988, the Burmese army has attacked ethnic Karen

positions along the Thai-Burma border causing over 20,000 refugees to spill into

Thailand (in addition to the over 80,000 refugees already there), the ASEAN-EU Ministerial

Meeting in Singapore has aired its concerns over Burma, and Indonesian President

Suharto has visited Burma - after Cambodia and Laos - on what has been carefully

characterized as, unbelievably, "nothing to do with Burma's inclusion to the

ASEAN fold" at some unspecified date in the near future (usually suggested as

July 1997).

In Tricia Fitzgerald's piece "PM strengthens Burma ties" in the Phnom Penh

Post (Feb 7-20, 1997), an unnamed high-ranking foreign affairs official is quoted

as stating: "We [Cambodia] need Burma to balance our relations with our larger

more dominant neighbors." But query, is it wise to cozy up to a generally recognized

authoritarian regime which has brutally suppressed all forms of democratic expression

and intimidated Nobel Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, students and the opposition

National League for Democracy into virtual submission? Regardless of one's political

persuasion, one has to admit that moving closer to Burma does nothing for Cambodia's

international position or stature vis-a-vis its "larger more dominant neighbors",

Thailand or Vietnam. In fact, strengthening ties with Burma only focuses more media

speculation on Cambodia's own political problems and human rights record.

Cambodia should seek membership in ASEAN independent or regardless of Burma's inclusion

or exclusion. The saying "you are judged by the company you keep" rings

true in this instance. Cambodia should resist ASEAN's decision to group Cambodia

and Laos' entry with that of Burma's. The latter is at a much different political

stage than the former two. What has happened to Cambodia's independent sovereignty?

Why is Cambodia being cowed into submission? Is this the price of admission into

ASEAN? Has Cambodia so quickly forgotten its own difficult past and struggle for

freedom and independence? Cambodia should not try to hide Burma's controversial entry

behind its and Laos' cloak. While Cambodia strives for its own independent and positive

(i.e., non-killing fields) identity on the world stage, why tarnish it with Burma's

own international public relations woes. The price of admission into the exclusive

ASEAN club is getting awfully high. Cambodia should take a principled stand and distance

itself from Burma, not embrace it.

- Francis J James, Phnom Penh.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia