Saturday, September 6, 2008

A long way to democracy? - some thoughts about the political situation in Cambodia

I believe that the main obstacles to make Cambodia democratic are the widespread poverty and illiteracy together with CPP controlling most of the media (many poor people know of no good alternatives than the party who build the roads and the schools). And of course, the biggest obstacle to change the system and make people literate and richer is the corruption (Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world), and a ruling party which is unwilling to make changes…

And to me it's quite obvious that CPP lacks the political will to make any big changes, they have too much to gain personally on keeping things the way they are. Especially the corruption... I find it hard to believe that, even if they finally will adopt the anti-corruption law, they will do much to implement it.

I think it's quite troublesome though, that the biggest opposition party, SRP, is making use of the widespread racism against ethnic Vietnamese to get supporters by spurring the feelings of hatred. I have spoken to Khmers who have the opinion that all ethnic Vietnamese are corrupt and that the solution to that problem is to send all ethnic Vietnamese to Vietnam. This feeling of hatred against Cambodian Vietnamese affects of course even the poorest refugees, not only the rich Vietnamese. It seems like many people are unable of separating the idea of Vietnam as a country (a richer, big brother-, neighbouring country…) and Vietnams government from the idea of Vietnamese individuals (who might have been living in Cambodia for generations, who have emigrated from Vietnam for some reason, and who might feel as much Cambodian as Vietnamese…). A widespread idea seems to be that ethnic Vietnamese are some sort of spies for Vietnam – that for example an ethnic Vietnamese politician would work for the best of Vietnam, not of Cambodia.

I was hoping for the new Human Rights Party, but they didn’t get much more than 6% of the votes…

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