Cambodia Is Still Failing Its Disabled Persons

Despite the government’s rhetoric, the reality is much more concerning.

The launch of Cambodia’s National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023 in November provided yet another occasion for fawning. King Norodom Sihamoni lauded the government’s “willingness and commitment…to serve persons with disabilities in Cambodia,” while Prime Minister Hun Sen (who never tires of reminding the public he, too, has a disability: an eye lost while he was fighting for the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime) boasted of his regime’s achievement.

But his government, in reality, has for a decade done next to nothing about the issue. Yes, some disabled people have benefited from broader improvements to the social security system, though many still go without adequate state aid. And, of course, changing public opinions about disabilities is difficult, and making sure the private sector focuses on the abilities of potential employees, not their disabilities, is hard going even in developed countries. But you might think that a “willing” and “committed” government would focus on things it can easily change, like who it employs.

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