US Embassy Keeps Mum on Rodley’s Remarks on Corruption

After nearly a week of government censure, the US Embassy is still mum on the fallout from Am­bass­ador Carol Rodley’s May 30 speech addressing corruption in Cambodia.

The government has reacted sev­ere­ly to Ms Rodley’s assertion, made at an anti-corruption concert, that the Cambodian government loses $500 million in public funds every year to corruption.

Two ministries and the Cam­bo­dian ambassador to London have now issued statements condemning the ambassador’s remarks, while Phnom Penh municipality on Thurs­day questioned organizers of the Clean Hands anti-corruption concert.

Embassy spokesman John John­son said Monday that he still had no com­ment on the reaction to Ms Rod­ley’s speech or the apparent con­­­sequences for the Clean Hands organizers.

Most of the concert’s organizers were equally silent on Monday.

Pact Cambodia Country Director Paul Mason and People’s Center for Development and Peace Pres­ident Yang Kim Eng both declined to comment.                                                 Cambodian Defenders Project Ex­­ecutive Director Sok Sam Oeun said that the government’s re­sponse to Ms Rodley’s speech was unfortunate.

CDP helped organize the Clean Hands concert, but Mr Sam Oeun was not personally involved.

“I think that the government re­acts too fast…. What she said, it is opinion,” Mr Sam Oeun said of the ambassador’s comments that put a dollar sum on the amount of mon­ey lost to the exchequer and the uses to which such money could have been put, including building schools.

Although he would not comment on whether organization work­ing on anti-corruption issues would be intimidated into silence by the government’s strong re­sponse to perceived critics, Mr Sam Oeun said that education and public awareness were key to fighting graft.

“We must do campaigns to en­cour­age people to hate corruption,” he said. “If we are too afraid, we cannot fight corruption.”

In the most recent official re­buke, Cambodia’s Ambassador to Britain Hor Nambora, a son of For­eign Minister Hor Namhong who also has another son who is ambassador to Japan, wrote to Ms Rodley on Thursday, stating that, “I am both surprised and disappointed that you should choose to make such inflammatory comments.”

He acknowledged that the position in Cambodia is Ms Rodley’s first as ambassador. “However,” he added, “I am sure you will be familiar with the overriding principle to which diplomats of all countries normally adhere…namely that we seek to maintain neutrality at all costs and refrain from commenting on the internal affairs of the nation to which we have been appointed envoy.”

 

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