SRP to Donors: Gov’t Reform ‘Unreasonably Slow’

SRP leader Sam Rainsy on Mon­day said the government was dragging its feet because it does not intend to carryout the reforms that Cambodia’s foreign aid donors say they require.

In the two-day donor meeting that starts today, Cambodian officials and donor country representatives are expected to review progress toward reform and announce multi-million dollar pledges of foreign assistance.

“[T]he government has been unreasonably slow in acting,” Sam Rainsy wrote in a public statement to the donor meeting.

“The lack of progress in adopting anticorruption legislation has led to the belief that the government’s official support of this objective was made in bad faith,” Sam Rainsy wrote.

Non-transparent land reforms as well as “the creeping pace” of legal reform “lead us to believe that what is lacking is not a plan, but political will,” he added.

The statement also made six recommendations, which included calling for a thorough investigation of recent allegations by the forestry watchdog Global Witness, an end to land-grabbing and the enactment of laws on managing future oil revenues.

National Assembly President and CPP Honorary President Heng Sam­rin dismissed Sam Rainsy’s accusations, saying serious reforms take time. “The accusations are baseless. The government is doing the work step by step,” he said. “They are doing judicial reform and the work is proceeding. How can it go quickly?” he added.

“They are already doing the work.”

Global Witness on Monday also published a statement calling on Cambodia’s donors to insist on concrete results in return for international aid money. “Cambodia’s donors have been staggeringly complacent,” Global Witness Director Simon Taylor said in e-mail.

“If their mission is to help Cam­bodia’s long-suffering population, rather than just cozying up to its kleptocratic government, donors must start insisting on tangible actions to combat corruption and impunity,” he said.

Heng Samrin also said it was up to donors to sift through Global Witness’ charges for the truth.

“It is up to the donors. If they still want to help, they will help,” Heng Samrin said. “If they follow Global Witness, they will quit,” he added.                         “But if they don’t believe Global Witness, they will still help.”

The forestry watchdog’s report, released June 1, accused a “kleptocratic elite” of criminality and wholesale environmental destruction.


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