Envoy to UK Asks The Economist for Retraction

In a letter dated Monday, the Cambodian Ambassador to the United Kingdom requested a re-traction from the Economist Intel-ligence Unit for ranking Cambodia among the top five countries most at risk from political unrest caused by the global economic crisis.

Ambassador Hor Nambora, a son of Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, wrote that he was disappointed the EIU had dismissed the government’s assurances of political stability, and instead had written a report based on “sketchy and unconvincing” evidence.

“Your scaremongering allegations are highly dangerous as they could be construed as actively inciting unrest. They also happen to be a gross distortion and misrepresentation of Cambodia’s true position and there can be no justification for these claims,” Hor Nambora wrote in the letter, obtained Wednesday.

The EIU, a think tank associated with The Economist magazine, rated Cambodia as an 8 on a 10-point scale for risk of instability, tying with Sudan for the fourth-highest score worldwide.

“It is insulting for you to claim that Cambodia is more politically unstable than the war-torn nations of Iraq and Afghanistan,” the amba-ssador added. “It seems perverse of you to highlight Cambodia as be-ing particularly vulnerable to instability, and yet seemingly ignore well publicized incidents of unrest in countries such as Myanmar [Burma], Thailand and Sri Lanka.”

Hor Nambora also accused the EIU of dismissing the remarks by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a February roundtable event co-hosted by the EIU in Siem Reap city.

“The Prime Minister used that occasion to record that Cambodia had just enjoyed a decade of blistering growth…. The Prime Minister also pledged that even in the light of the global financial crisis, Cam-bodia would seek to maintain its ec-onomic growth at 6 percent during 2009. But you seem to have ignor-ed his reassurance from the highest possible level,” the letter said.

On Wednesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Kuy Kuong said that Hor Nambora’s statement represents Cambodia’s official stance.

“Hor Nambora is an extraordinary ambassador to the United Kingdom; he was writing on behalf of the Cambodian government,” Kuy Kuong said.

He also denied that the ambassador’s letter contradicted Hun Sen’s earlier statement. “We want a retraction if the magazine thinks there is a problem with the report.”

Hun Sen said in a speech Tues-day that the EIU assessment was wrong, but that the government would not request an apology.

No one from the EIU was available to comment Wednesday.

  (Additional reporting by Beth­­any Lindsay)




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