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Not ‘close’ enough for comfort: report

Not ‘close’ enough for comfort: report

Cambodia lags well behind its neighbours in a new study measuring the closeness of the government to its people.

The “government closeness index” ranks 182 countries based on the extent to which their politics are decentralised and their institutional politics connected with civil society.

The paper’s authors, economist Maksym Ivanyna, a PhD candidate at Michigan State University, and Anwar Shah, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, aggregated the data to create the “decentralization index”, then adjusted it by country to develop the index.

The Kingdom’s decentralisation ranking of 121 places it well below Thailand at 38, Vietnam at 60 and Laos at 78.

The majority of the data used to rank the 182 countries, however, was collected in 2005 and doesn’t factor in major recent changes in countries such as Syria – which ranked 120 – and Myanmar (179).

Decentralisation reforms have swept the globe in the past three decades, Ivanyna and Shah state in the paper, How Close Is Your Government to Its People? Worldwide Indicators on Localization and Decentralization, released last week.

“The resulting rankings could be helpful in understanding the genesis of the Arab Spring and other recent political movements and waves of dissatisfaction with governance around the world.”

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said he had yet to see the paper’s rankings, but Cambodians were paying more attention to their government now than ever before.

“We feel the stability of this government is strong and we have consistently been working to improve our connection to the people,” Sopheak said yesterday, adding that the strength of the government’s connection to the people could be seen in people’s ability to organise at grassroots level.

An opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman could not be reached for comment.

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