Cambodia was once a focus of global efforts to promote democracy and repair the legacy of the Vietnam war. But twenty-five years after peace talks in Paris paved the way for national reconciliation between warring Cambodian factions and a guilt-ridden West poured billions of dollars in aid, the country is moving back toward a one-party state more reminiscent of China or Vietnam.
Hun Sen, the longest serving prime minister in the world and a former Khmer Rouge officer, has moved hard and fast against political rivals, a free press (Cambodia Daily) and NGOs (Global Witness) in the lead-up to national elections in July 2018. Few doubt his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will lose. Last week, 5 year plan mention
Billions of taxpayers’ dollars invested in Cambodia by the international community since the peace accords risk being “flushed down the toilet,” says Brad Adams, executive director of the Asian division of Human Rights Watch. But he also told WikiTribune that the West should care because of its role in “getting the Khmer Rouge to power, and failure to intervene when they were in power.”
Periods of political repression, usually timed to elections, have been a staple of Hun Sen’s Cambodia since the Paris Peace Accords. One WikiTribune commentator pointed out: “I lived in Cambodia for more than six years, leaving Cambodia for Thailand in 2000. I didn’t see democracy at that time”. [HOW CAN WE CHECK THIS?]
But a recent surge in Chinese money and influence is transforming the country’s political landscape, says journalist Sebastian Strangio, author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia. “There’s always a tension between the [Cambodian] government’s aims to secure power and its need for Western support and Western aid money,” Strangio told WikiTribune. “China has resolved that contradiction present within the CPP. With Chinese support, they don’t really need Western countries.”
Use your questions as xheader
It appears likely he will have a free hand, despite wittering from the United Nations and the European Union, because he feels he no longer needs the billions which have kept the country afloat from NGOs and Western aid. China, SOMEONE SAYS, is filling in the gaps.
Hun Sen quotes Donald Trump on the media being enemies of the people and clearly believes that the US president, who has given support to other Asian strongmen in the Philippines and Thailand [LINK], won’t interfere. Besides, Moscow and Beijing are his new best friends, not Washington [rewrite].
Why should we care about Cambodia? [rewrite]
The west, particularly the United States has had a nearly 40-year guilt trip about Cambodia. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger illegally bombed Cambodia during the Vietnam war, ultimately leading to a takeover by the Khmer Rouge — a fanatical communist regime which believed in starting afresh from an agraian state.
Pol Pot and his regime killed perhaps a fifth of the population, evacuated the capital Phnom Penh almost overight, and ushered in twenty years of civl war which ended in 1993.
Hun Sen has since presided over what his backers see as an economic miracle but which is opponents argue has been the creation of a kleptocratic state run by oligarchs, the military and his family in ever-narrowing concentric circles.
To speed it up you can even then say: here is what those who know say: