>FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2006
The Cambodia Daily
UN Envoy’s Observations Should Be Heeded
Logic would suggest that the prime minister of a country relying on the international donor community for more than half its national budget would ensure that his country would be a model of good governance and efficient administration, not to mention clean and transparent politics and full respect of human rights.
Logic would also suggest that the said prime minister would show caution when replying to criticism from UN or other foreign officials about the situation of human rights in his country. Thus, the comments by Prime Minister Hun Sen lashing out at the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Professor Yash Ghai, are both unwarranted and unacceptable and should be condemned by all those that care for the rights of Cambodians.
Fifteen years after the signing of the Paris Agreements on Cambodia giving the people of Cambodia back the freedoms and rights that had been taken away by the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, there is little commitment from the political elite to safeguard those rights and to comply with Cambodia’s international obligations.
Professor Ghai is a distinguished academic and renowned constitutional lawyer and his remarks, at the end of his second visit to Cambodia, that there is a “big gap” between the values and procedures of the Constitution and the way state power is exercised are timely and accurate. Professor Ghai must be congratulated for his courageous remarks, which render great service to the people of Cambodia.
In the past few weeks, while the propaganda of the CPP has maintained that the coalition between the CPP and Funcinpec is intact, we have observed day after day the realignment of power solely in favor of the CPP, with the parliament and the executive now completely under its control.
So much for the multiparty democracy that the Paris Agreements gave to the people of Cambodia?
Professor Ghai is also spot-on when criticizing the international community for not doing enough to stop this undemocratic trend and inducing the Cambodian government to bring an end to such authoritarian practices.
It seems that for countries such as Australia, France and Japan, the benchmark for what constitutes improvement is extremely low, thus allowing the prime minister and associates to get away with authoritarianism, because strongman rule is a lesser evil than the mass murder of the Khmer Rouge.
Let us hope that His Excellency Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, will pay no attention whatsoever to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s demand for the dismissal of Professor Ghai. He is truly a breeze of fresh air and his involvement is still required by the Cambodian people.
Ambassador Julio Jeldres,
Chairman of the Khmer Institute of Democracy