Despite 25 years’ experience with Cambodia, Huw Watkin begins his report by confusing the Tonle Sap river with the Mekong (“From Khmer Rouge to Khmer Riche: is Hun Sen losing his decades-long grip on Cambodia’s corrupt politics?”, March 28).
Clearly determined to prove that nearly everything is rotten in the state of Cambodia, Watkin advances assertions rather than evidence. He dismisses the country’s remarkable economic growth as favouring the “small middle class” and the elite, but cites no figures. The World Bank in 2013 assessed Cambodian growth from 2004 to 2011 as “pro-poor – not only reducing inequality, but also proportionally boosting poor people’s consumption further and faster than that of the non-poor”.
Furthermore, Watkin simply ignores objective measures of inequality, such as the World Bank’s calculation of wealth inequality. Its 2018 calculations for seven of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries showed Cambodia to have the lowest level of inequality of the group. Furthermore, it was the only Asean member where inequality decreased over 2008-2018. Its inequality is also less than that of most developed Western countries.
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