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Foreign help needed in govt -Rasy

Foreign help needed in govt -Rasy

Cambodia will not survive without outside intervention because Khmers cannot

govern themselves, a Khmer elder statesman and human rights activist has

said.

Douc Rasy, a law lecturer in France, said the nearly $1 billion in

aid promised to the country at the International Conference on Reconstruction of

Cambodia (ICORC) in Tokyo early this month, will be frittered away unless donors

stipulate how the money should be spent.

"I don't trust the government,"

said Rasy, a member of Parliament from 1962 to 1972 who was asked by UNHCR to

return to Cambodia last month to offer recommendations and an analysis of

government efficiency to the National Assembly.

"Corruption is

everywhere. Past situations show we do not have the tradition of a responsible

democratic government. They want profits," said Rasy who believes the foreign

aid will quickly disappear into pockets of government officials and conniving

businessmen.

Rasy, a former MP, UN diplomat and publisher of the Phnom

Penh Press (1962-1967), said he believes the government is incapable and inept

and that an international governing force is the country's only

hope.

"Little progress has been made since the elections, and Cambodia

should develop the infrastructure left by Untac," he said adding that he didn't

believe Untac had been "very efficient" while in the country.

"The UN

couldn't penetrate the consciousness of Cambodia. They didn't understand the

people or the history here. They gave the government the idea that human rights

are luxury goods - human rights look like a prize for foreign

aid.

"However, we have to start somewhere, but nothing is happening. Only

35 percent of our people have any form of education. Cambodia needs lots of

technical and professional training. We need men [foreign experts] with skills

and personality, men who will be very firm, and will be able to explain 'this is

how you do it'."

One of the main hurdles the government needs to jump to

get the country back on track, is to increase government salaries, said Rasy.

"The main problem now is their [civil servants'] pay. A salary of $15 a

month is good for only four days. No civil servant can work for the public

interest when his head is outside, concerned about how he's going to survive. If

you can't pay the civil servants, the country has no arms and legs," he

said.

Rasy's wife Seitha said:"You must have more educated ex-pats

working in the government to give confidence to investors."

Rasy

continued, "They must be encouraged to return, but it's not going to happen," he

said referring to an Under Secretary of State and ex-pat whose spouse must work

abroad to supplement his $20 a month salary.

Seitha explained that

ex-pats are unofficially discouraged from returning, because many Khmers in high

positions make money illegally, through bribes or "under the table

transactions". Seitha said she feared ex-pats might try to wipe out the

corruption, or join in it themselves, leaving less money for those involved

now.

Rasy, once an ambassador to four European countries, was appointed

by UNDP to lead a series of seminars on democracy from March 1 to May last year.

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