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Asean Affairs  18 March 2011

Cambodia on a learning curve

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     18 March 2011

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A report today that Cambodian opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has been “defrocked” of his status as a member of parliament in Cambodia is just another indication of how far Cambodia needs to travel to develop a functional democracy. The question is in 10 or 20 years, what kind of government will Cambodia have. Although foreign investment has come into the country thorny issues remain.

Mr. Rainsy called in his comments from France , where he is in exile to escape imprisonment from several politically inspired charges put together by the country’s leader, Hun Sen. Rainsy indicated he hoped to return to participate in upcoming elections in two years indicates at best, wishful thinking.

The displacement of 4,000 families from the lakeside Boeung Kaek community to make way for a housing development funded by a Chinese firm with a Cambodian politician as the local link indicates regular Cambodians have few pathways to redress grievances.

The recent border dispute flare-up with Thailand that developed into shooting between the two countries indicate diplomacy and negotiations have fallen by the way in the long-standing territorial disagreement over boundary lines. Perhaps the upcoming mediation sessions in Paris will be the next meaningful step.

Cambodia could be another great Asean success story, however, political, social and human rights issues need to be addressed for ordinary Cambodians to complete the picture. There is no telling when such matters will be addressed.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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