Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, June 22, 2007

Global Witness Report To Help Open Hun Sen's Eye to 'Festering' Corruption

Phnom Penh
Sralanh Khmer in Cambodian 02 Jun 07 pp 1, 4
["This Issue's Comment"]

Hun Sen's Cambodian Government has been deeply bogged down in all sorts of corruption pointed out by national and international circles after the prime minister arrogantly asked on Wednesday, "How this corruption looks like? Can anyone tell me where it is?" From now on, the prime minister surely will have a splitting headache reading a mountain of reports on corruption, documents that have piled up as high as Mount Everest because the corruption monitors have prepared them to open the prime minister's eye and make him see what really happens around him.

The forest crime report Global Witness released yesterday shows only the minister of agriculture and the head of the Forest Administration [FA], together with seven generations of the prime minister's relatives, as ringleaders behind the current waves of forest crimes in Cambodia. Although Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun and FA Chairman Ti Sokun softly denied the charges yesterday, this kind of rebuttal is not enough. The government must investigate, for this is an example of corruption that the prime minister has never seen and never thought possible, since he used to observe that corrupt persons never wear collars or bear tattoos on their foreheads for him to recognize them.

For the past few years, the prime minister who used to boast that he could see through everybody has been totally blind to corruption. For instance, he was blind to the recent corruption case in four ministries that caused the World Bank to suspend aid worth several dozen million dollars. Later, we do not know why the prime minister quietly took over $10 million from the national budget with which he paid back to the donors on behalf of the corrupt officials.

The general public has heard the prime minister roar like a Cyclops that if he could not suppress the forest crimes he would cut his own head. There was one time when the prime minister claimed as if he meant it that he would step down if he could not stop illegal logging. The prime minister has made this kind of vociferation for years and on many occasions. But forests continue to be decimated under the blows of the criminals' chainsaws. Just as exposed by Global Witness in its report yesterday, these logging criminals include a maternal cousin of the prime minister, a close friend of Mrs. Bun Rany Hun Sen, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun, FA chief Ti Sokun, and their father-in-law and many relatives who have operated in a close network to devastate the forests and make money from the timber trade for their own syndicates and families. General Hing Bun-hieng, commander of the prime minister's bodyguard unit, also has his name on the logging criminals' list.

In years past as well as this year economic experts and governance specialists have shown the figures of the loss in national incomes caused by the people close to the prime minister. They have estimated that each year some $400 to $500 million has been lost to illegal logging alone. Last year and this year, the share from corruption and land-grab activities by the powerful people in the group around the prime minister and the Mafia-like money-laundering tycoons has spread far and wide all over Cambodia. Unfortunately, the prime minister has been left in the dark. He cannot see even if he is looking at it.

Those who are monitoring the prime minister's government stewardship say that crimes, murders, and all kinds of corrupt practice of large and medium scales usually are the works of the prime minister's own blood relatives. Several of his cousins have been accused of involvement in land grab. One of his nephews shot and killed people. Close relatives of the prime minister are implicated in logging and oil smuggling, and so on. In other words, the prime minister has become very notorious on the national and international stages since the outset thanks to the exploits of the members of his extended family.

The Cambodian prime minister claims himself to be strong and smart in all departments. Whenever he gets hold of a microphone, he rambles on and on for hours. Most of the time, his speeches include threats and useless nonsense, especially excessive laudatory mentions of his own children and relatives. The incitement, menace, and temperamental outbursts of the prime minister in his frequent speeches give listeners the impression that he really means business. Over the past decade, however, the prime minister has made nothing but empty promises, meaning that whatever he has said is just part of his misleading oratory skill. The prime minister has proved to be politically incompetent and unwilling. Frankly speaking, he does not have a shred of national conscience in him. Such incompetence and obvious ignorance have driven the prime minister deeper into darkness to the point that he can no longer see or understand the widespread corruption tentacles that are constricting the Cambodian society, plunging it into growing darkness.

Nevertheless, the latest Global Witness report, which identifies the criminals behind the destruction of the national forests as being part of the prime minister's family tree, will help to open the prime minister's eye to reality. On the contrary, if the prime minister is not blind but pretends to be so, he will not escape retribution because in the future the parliamentarians will summon the ministers or even the prime minister to answer in person (not in writing) to their questioning at the National Assembly concerning all cases involving corruption that the current prime minister cannot see or grasp.

Anyway, one sentence uttered by the prime minister who pretends to be ignorant goes like this: "There is corruption in every country." This means that the prime minister is not completely unaware of the festering corruption in his government. In making this remark, the prime minister wanted to cover up and protect the corrupt people and criminals of all sorts and in all places who are members of his group or of his family.

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