Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs and civil society

NGOs and civil society

NGOs and civil society

Dear Editor,

I have noted in two consecutive issues of the Post articles by Anette Marcher reporting

that "leaders of civil society" are critical of the Government's handling

of legislation for trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders. In the October 13 issue

these leaders are not further identified, but in the October 27 issue it emerges

that all of them - or at least all who are named - are leaders of non-government

organizations.

I have no brief either for or against NGOs: some make the world a better place, some

make it worse. But it is an abuse of language and reality to use "NGO"

interchangeably with "civil society".

Civil society is the citizenry as a whole, particularly as distinguished from particular

entities such as the Government, the military or religious organizations. NGOs, at

most, constitute a small fraction of civil society.

Furthermore, despite the label "non- government", many of them are financially

dependent on government - either local or foreign - and are to that extent not even

part of civil society, let alone its representatives.

NGO leaders have no more claim to be "leaders of civil society" than do

captains of football teams, supervisors of garment factories or symphony conductors.

All are selected as leaders by processes which may find the most suitable candidate

for the position concerned, but which are usually not democratic and which do not

at all involve the vast majority of civil society. Civil society as a whole selects

its leaders through such processes as voting in elections and joining political parties.

If NGO heads or symphony conductors have something of interest to say about the KR

trial legislation, by all means let the Post report it. But to present their opinions

as those of the leaders or representatives of civil society leaves the impression

that the writer seeks to inflate support for those opinions.

- Allen Myers, Phnom Penh

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of