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Cambodia’s addiction to dependency: NGOs and BFG
សង្ខេប៖ អ្នកនិព្វន្ធអត្ថបទនេះព្យាយាមចង្អុលប្រាប់អោយយើងដឹងថាកម្ពុជាកំពុងប្រឈមមុខតថភាពសង្គមដោយពឹងពាក់លើអ្នកដទៃទាំងស្រុង(dependency) ហើយកត្តាលេចធ្លោរពីរយ៉ាងគឺកំសោយរបស់អង្គការក្រៅរដ្ឋាភិបាល(NGOs)និងការធ្លាក់ខ្លួនទៅក្នុងអន្លង់មិត្តយក្សល្អបំផុតប៊ីអេសជី(BFG)។ ជាការសង្កេត អង្គការNGOsមួយភាគធំប្រតិបត្តិការដោយពឹងលើជំនួយបរទេសទាំងស្រុង មិនបានគិតអំពីនិរន្តរភាពខ្លួនឯងនៅពេលណាដែលជំនួយត្រូវបានបញ្ឈប់ឬខ្លះទៀតបោកជំនួយបរទេសដោយមិនបានបំពេញតាមឆន្ទៈបំណងនៃជំនួយឡើយ។ សម្រាប់ប៊ីអេសជីBFGវិញ រដ្ឋាភិបាលហ៊ុនសែនលើកនិយាយពីអធិបតេយ្យភាពជាតិដោយមិនចុះញ៉មជាមួយអឺរ៉ុបនិងអាមេរិក ដោយយកចិនជាមិត្តធំសំខាន់សម្រាប់ប្រើប្រាស់លុយជំនួយឥតលក្ខណ្ឌ(aids without strings)មកប្រើប្រាស់បន្តរំលោភអំណាចនិងគាបសង្កត់អ្នកតស៊ូប្រជាធិបតេយ្យទាំងអស់។
In recent weeks, Khmer Times has published several opinion and editorial pieces on Cambodia’s present-day international relations challenges. Those authors were passionate in crying foul over the possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms preferential treatment.
They pointed out the EU’s double standards in comparison to Vietnam, Thailand, and Burma. They also claimed that the US was complicit in this act of “social injustice”, and that it is sowing distrust between Cambodia and other Asean countries.
They rejected any US or EU criticism of human rights violations as interference in its affairs and proclaim that sovereignty and independence are paramount over EU demands.
Yet, these authors have forgotten that since the EBA is a ‘gift’ from the EU to Cambodia, then they have the right to review, take it away or do anything they want with it. They are not obligated to ensure it is fair or not when compared to similar ‘gifts’ to other recipient countries. In business, each commercial contract with a client cannot be the same.
Also, Cambodia has the right to give up the EBA if it thinks the conditions are too difficult and unfair as stated in some of Khmer Times’ editorials. But it chooses to cry and throw a tantrum.
Now that EBA suspension process is official, there are calls for Cambodia to be less dependent on foreign aid and assistance, the reason is so that its sovereignty and independence will not be held hostage by just a few partners.
Unfortunately, it is worrying how these authors can continue to deny that Cambodia has already been baited – hook, line and sinker – and has developed an addiction to dependency. It is already over-dependent on two accomplices.
Firstly, non-government organisations in Cambodia. Many NGOs do good work in Cambodia –they provide much-needed services and expertise for Cambodia’s social and economic development, environment, water sanitisation and more. They fill the gaps in Cambodia’s still developing institutions and systems. But it is also true that just as many behave like parasites, using Cambodia as the excuse to prolong their existence. In fact, many are indirectly or directly responsible for breeding dependency in Cambodia.
Many do not bother to work together but end up duplicating similar projects or areas of help. It is criminal how some NGOs even encourage ignorant and uneducated villagers to join protests, illegally occupy land and be interviewed for TV documentaries that paint their own country negatively.
Unfounded allegations? I know of Cambodians who have bragged about it. So much donor funds have been wasted on short term projects, countless reports and studies, and so many different solutions offered for the country.
Each NGO ought to have an exit strategy (and timeline) from Cambodia and to pass on knowledge, skills and expertise. If there is any conspiracy against Cambodia, this is it – not by design but a tragic confluence of selfish agendas.
Secondly, Cambodia’s “most trustworthy friend” (or other similar accolades bestowed by the big, friendly giant or “BFG”.
BFG has invested massively in Cambodia, particularly in Sihanoukville and across the country. Cambodia has benefited in the form of much-needed infrastructure, better connectivity and higher land values.
For Cambodia, the BFG is also a ready and willing source of legitimacy, acceptance and recognition that it cannot get elsewhere. But one must be blind to ignore the negative social impact of BFG’s dominance in the Kingdom. Like this newspaper I suspect it is owned by BFG if this is not published (a challenge and test!).
Cambodia runs a huge trade deficit to BFG (Cambodia buys more from BFG than the other way around). Nearly all BFG projects have very little benefit to small business and ordinary Cambodians, and mainly well-connected landowners benefit.
The increasing number of BFG businesses and shops in Sihanoukville and the capital cater only to BFG people.
Nearly all construction workers in these projects come from BFG (quite a number bring their families, setting up local shops and even local markets), with a small proportion hired locally in low-skilled menial labour work.
Most of the supply and construction materials for these projects are imported from BFG. So these projects actually help BFG export their unemployment (sending its construction workers overseas, who would otherwise not be able to find jobs back home), and BFG suppliers and construction companies benefit more than local Cambodian ones.
So for BFG grants for projects, the money actually flows back to BFG companies and people.Read More …
ទីបំផុតលោកហ៊ុន-សែនត្រូវទទួលស្គាល់ការពិតនៃការបរាជ័យខ្លួនឯងដោយសារអំពើពុករលួយនិងអវិជ្ជា ហើយបង្ខំចិត្តក្រាញអំណាចដឹកនាំប្រទេសតាមផ្លូវមិនប្រជាប្រីយមួយ(unpopular)គឺខ្លួនពាក់ស្បែកផ្តាច់ការតែមាត់និយាយថាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ។ ក្តីសង្ឃឹមតែមួយគត់របស់គាត់គឺបន្តកុហកបោកប្រាស់ប្រជាជនខ្លួនឯងនិងបំបែកកំលាំងអ្នកប្រជាធិបតេយ្យអោយអស់។ តែពេលនេះអ្វីគ្រប់យ៉ាងគឺហួសពេលហើយសម្រាប់ហ៊ុន-សែន….យុវជនដែលមានតំណាងដល់ទៅ៧០%នៃប្រជាពលរដ្ឋសរុប១៦លាននាក់មានការយល់ដឹងច្បាស់ពីការភូតភររបស់គាត់….កំលាំងតស៊ូអ្នកប្រជាធិបតេយ្យបានកើនឡើងជាលំដាប់គឺកើនជាងពាក់កណ្តាលនគរទៅហើយ។
Op-Ed: New York Times
By Seth Mydans
BANGKOK — A Cambodian court has issued arrest warrants for eight opposition leaders who fled abroad for safety but say they are now trying to return.
The indictment in recent days by a government-controlled court in Phnom Penh, the capital, was the latest effort by Prime Minister Hun Sen to sideline opposition politicians and independent news outlets as he tries to maintain his 34-year grip on power.
Warrants were issued for Sam Rainsy, a founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which has been dissolved; two of the party’s vice presidents, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhai Eang; and five other party members.
They were charged with incitement to commit a felony and plotting to commit treason, charges they say are without merit.
The eight opposition figures fled the country in 2017, fearing arrest during a crackdown on their party, and they say that if they returned now they would be subject to detention under the new warrants.
“Hun Sen wants to keep full ownership of Cambodia for himself and his family,” Ms. Mu Sochua said in an email message from an undisclosed location. “Arrest warrants on top opposition leaders in exile proves even more that Hun Sen has full use of the judiciary.”
“Returning home from exile is to be with the people and to restore hope for Cambodia to move forwards to positive change,” she added.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party had been the main challenger to Mr. Hun Sen, but it was shuttered by the Supreme Court in 2017, effectively turning the country into a one-party state. In the last parliamentary election, in July 2018, Mr. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party claimed all 125 seats.
Mr. Hun Sen has also cracked down on the independent news media, most significantly by forcing the closing of The Cambodia Daily, whose formation in 1993 had been a signal of the country’s turn toward openness and democratic rule.
For the past two decades, he has been rolling back democratic standards put in place by the United Nations in the early 1990s, clipping the wings of nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups.Read More …
ថ្ងៃនេះខ្ញុំសូមសំដែងនូវសេចក្តីសោកស្តាយនិងចូលរួមកាន់មរណៈទុក្ខដល់ក្រុមគ្រួសារនិងញាតិមិត្តលោកបណ្ឌិត Benny Widyono ដែលបានលាចាកលោកនេះកាលពីខែមីនា ១៦ ឆ្នាំ២០១៩។ លោកធ្លាប់ជាលេខាប្រចាំប្រទេសកម្ពុជារបស់អគ្គលេខាធិការអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិក្នុងសម័យអ៊ុនតាក់ UNTAC។
តែអ្វីដែលខ្ញុំចង់លើកមកបង្ហាញគឺវគ្គមួយក្នុងសៀវភៅដ៏ល្បីរបស់លោក រាំក្នុងស្រមោល Dancing in Shadow ក្នុងទំព័រទី១១៨ដល់១៨១ គឺការដែលល្បិចនយោបាយឌីហ្វីត DIFID (Divide, Isolate, Finish, Integrate, Develop) របស់លោកហ៊ុនសែនក្នុងការប្រឡេះលោកសម-រង្ស៊ីនិងទ្រង់សិរីវុឌចេញពីហ៊ុនស៊ិនប៊ិចដែលធ្វើអោយបក្សមួយនេះចុះខ្សោយដល់សព្វថ្ងៃ។ តែអ្វីដែលសំខាន់ពេលនោះគឺមានកឹម-សុខាម្នាក់ដែរ ក្នុងតំណែងលោកជាសមាជិកសភាពីគណបក្សព្រះពុទ្ធសាសនាដើម្បីអភិវឌ្ឍន៍របស់លោកតាសឺនសានបានជំទាស់ក្នុងការបណ្តេញលោកសមរង្សុីចេញពីសភាទាំងបំពានច្បាប់នេះ។ ដូច្នេះគោលការណ៍សមរង្សុី-កឹមសុខាជាមនុស្សតែមួយនៃគណបក្សសង្រ្គោះជាតិបច្ចុប្បន្នពិតជាឆ្លុះបញ្ចាំងឧត្តមគតិរួមរបស់អ្នកទាំងពីរកាលពី២៧ឆ្នាំមុន។
Today, I would like to express deep sadness and share condolence with family and friends of Dr. Benny Widyono who passed away this March 16, 2019. He was the key secretary and UN’s official during UNTAC in Cambodia.
But what I am most impressed is his book “Dancing in Shadow” in page of 118-181 illustrating the political tactic of Hun Sen’s DIFID (Divide, isolate, finish, develop) to divide and isolate Sam Rainsy and Prince Sirivudh which has weakened FUNCIPEC ever-since. But the most exotic memoir is Kem Sokha who was MP from Buddhist Development Party of Sen San stood up to protest in the parliament for this illegal act of expelling Sam Rainsy from the Parliament and stripped off his Parliamentary impunity. So, the principle of Sam Rainsy-Kem Sokha is ONE of modern CNRP has been historically identical of their ideal since 27 years ago.
Original source for your reference: UH Press
Benny Widyono’s Dancing in Shadows
Book Review, University of Hawai!i
Alvin Lim is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i. Lim received his B.A. (Hons) and M.A. from the National University of Singapore, and taught Philosophy for three years at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Widyono, Benny. (2008). Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Benny Widyono’s gripping!Dancing in Shadows is a memoir of his peacekeeping and diplomatic work in Cambodia: in 1992-93 he served as the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia’s (UNTAC) Provincial Director of Siem Reap; subsequently in 1994-97 he served as the UN Secretary-General’s Political Representative to the Royal Government of Cambodia (2008, p. xxvii).
Dancing in Shadows begins on an unexpected note with! Ben Kiernan’s foreword that focuses on the role of Indonesians in resolving the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, paving the way for UNTAC. Kiernan notes a July 1980! meeting at Phnom Penh’s! Noor Al-Ihsan mosque between Cham genocide survivors and!Indonesian journalists. Their pioneering reportage triggered a change in Indonesian policy towards Cambodia which eventually led Indonesia to guide the warring Cambodian factions to reach a peace settlement (ibid., pp. xvii-xxiv).
This largely unknown thread of Cambodia’s tortured recent history nicely introduces the role of Widyono, himself an Indonesian citizen; for the key Indonesian role in the Cambodian peace process is also reflectedn Widyono’s subsequent participation in UNTAC. The Indonesian-Cambodian connection does not end there: Kiernan (ibid., p. xix) and Widyono (ibid., pp. 23-24) both note Indonesia’s and Cambodia’s mirrored experiences with politicide and genocide. This tragic mirroring is not just an academic observation for Widyono, as his ethnic Chinese heritage subjected him and his family to General Suharto’s anti-Chinese policies (ibid., p. xxix).
The key contribution of Dancing in Shadows is found in Widyono’s critique of the Cambodian peace process. Unlike other academics, he was actually part of UNTAC’s top administration, and enjoyed a privileged perspective of the mission’s ultimate failure in Cambodia. In Widyono’s view, UNTAC’s ultimate failure stemmed from two significant flaws in the 1991 Paris Agreements. First, the Agreements legitimized Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge faction; second, the Agreements downgraded the status of Hun Sen’s្្ State of Cambodia (SOC) regime, disregarding its extensive administrative and military control over most of Cambodian territory (ibid., p. 35). These problems would adversely affect UNTAC’s subsequent performance. Not only did the Khmer Rouge pose a significant military challenge to UNTAC; UNTAC also found itself incapable of asserting its nominal authority over the SOC’s apparatuses of power (ibid., p. 42).Read More …
Op-Ed: U.S. Department of State
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliamentary government. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won all 125 National Assembly seats in the July 29 national election, having banned the chief opposition party in November 2017. Prior to the victory, Prime Minister Hun Sen had already served for 33 years. International observers, including foreign governments and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and domestic NGOs criticized the election as neither free nor fair and not representative of the will of the Cambodian people.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces, which often threatened force against those who opposed Prime Minister Hun Sen and were generally perceived as an armed wing of the ruling CPP.
Human rights issues included unlawful or arbitrary killings carried out by the government or on its behalf; forced disappearance carried out by the government; torture by the government; arbitrary arrests by the government; political prisoners; arbitrary interference in the private lives of citizens, including pervasive electronic media surveillance; censorship and selectively enforced criminal libel laws; interference with the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on political participation; pervasive corruption, including in the judiciary; and use of forced or compulsory child labor.
The government did not provide evidence of having prosecuted any officials for abuses, including corruption. A pervasive culture of impunity continued.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. As of July a local human rights NGO reported four extrajudicial killings.
In March 2017 the court sentenced Oeuth Ang to life imprisonment for the 2016 murder of Kem Ley, an outspoken and popular political analyst. As of July the case remained open and the government pledged to look for coconspirators, although it took no action. Noting that the victim and killer were not acquainted and other anomalies, including the impoverished assailant’s possession of an expensive handgun, many observers believed a third party hired Oeuth Ang.
On March 8, violence broke out in Kratie Province when security forces opened fire on persons protesting the transfer of land, decades before, to a rubber plantation. Several media outlets reported a death toll of two to six persons with another 40 injured. Shortly after the violence occurred, the government ordered local media to “correct” its news reports. Four NGOs and the UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) formed an investigation committee to tour the site. They found that on March 7, the company began demarcating its land and that a day later 150 soldiers, military police, and police burned down villagers’ houses, leading the villagers to block the main road and demand an immediate stop to the arson. According to the OHCHR report, the security forces opened fire to disperse the villagers. OHCHR acknowledged that, because the security forces closed off the site of the shooting, there were no reliable counts of the dead or injured.
After the incident Kratie governor Sar Chamrong denied reports that security forces shot the protesters. National Police spokesperson Kirt Chantharith claimed villagers with homemade rifles injured as many as seven police officers while only two villagers were slightly injured, not by gunfire, but by bamboo sticks.
The Venerable Meas Vichet, a well known monk and social activist who disappeared in June 2017 in Krobei Riel commune, Siem Reap Province, after security officials beat him, remained missing, and no new information on his case arose during the year to October.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices; however, beatings and other forms of physical mistreatment of police detainees and prison inmates reportedly continued during the year.
There were credible reports military and police officials used physical and psychological abuse and occasionally severely beat criminal detainees, particularly during interrogation. As of July a local NGO observed physical assaults against detainees and prisoners in nine cases. Journalist Kim Sok told local media following his release from detention that prison guards beat him whenever he disobeyed an order or opened books. Other detainees reported authorities forced them to walk for up to an hour with a bucket of water on their heads, or forced them to stand in the hot sun for several hours.Read More …