Sam Rainsy’s Remarks in US Anger Burma

The Burmese Embassy in Phnom Penh has reacted angrily to comments made by Sam Rain­sy in Washington last month, comparing the Cambodian government to that of Burma’s “recalcitrant narco-state.”

In an address to the American Enterprise think tank on April 9, Sam Rainsy presented Burma as a worst-case scenario of poor governance and corruption—one which Cambodia is well on the way to emulating. “Burma…provides a preview of the direction Cambodia is headed,” AFP re­port­ed Sam Rain­sy as saying. “Lacking a mech­anism for political change, Burma re­mains under the thumb of a corrupt military junta and poses a con­stant threat to its own people and to the larger world through its opium trade.”

“Without change, Cambodia is not far off from resembling this recalcitrant narco-state,” AFP re­ported Sam Rainsy as saying.

The criticism appears to have touched a raw nerve in Rangoon. In a four-page statement titled “A Rebuttal to Mr Sam Rainsy’s Untruthful Comments,” the em­bas­sy vigorously defends Bur­ma’s recent reform record, particularly in the field of narcotics production.

“Mr Sam Rainsy has gone too far in labeling [Burma] as a ‘recalcitrant narco-state,’” the statement says. “This accusation is prejudiced and politically motivated…. The real situation is far from what he suggests.”

Poppy eradication, crop substitution programs and infrastructure development in drug-prone border areas are helping to suppress Burma’s massive narcotics output, the statement says.

“Mr Sam Rainsy’s accusation that [Burma] poses a constant threat to its own people and to the larger world through the opium trade is absolute nonsense. This fictitious situation will never arise. Mr Sam Rainsy should therefore stop worrying about it,” the statement says.

It goes on to detail at length  ef­forts made by the Burmese gov­ernment to control the rampant opium and methamphetamine production on its soil—more than 90 percent of which takes place in the Shan State, according to a UN report quoted in the statement.

“From January to 15 Novem­ber, 2002, 1,737 kilos of opium, 300 kilos of heroin and 9,191,694 stimulant tablets were seized,” the statement says.

The statement also refers to the pitfalls of foreign intervention in issues of domestic governance. “Attempts from outside to set di­rection for [Burma] to move would not only hinder the pace of dem­ocratization but also prove to be counterproductive.”

“[Sam Rainsy’s] silly remarks belittle the two sovereign countries…and should therefore be retracted,” the statement said.

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