Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy on Stability in Cambodia

Comments on a report gleaned from the Radio Free Asia as published and translated by KI-Media

In connection with the report of increasing land price in Cambodia currently, several observers and Cambodian politicians point out that this is due to peaceful stability in Cambodia.Yesterday, Prime minister Hun Sen confirmed that political stability and social security constitute the importance leading to fast progress and to all sorts of development for Cambodia, he also compared (the current situation) with the land price during the various war time inside the country.

It is certainly true that stability is a prerequisite for a growing economy, which in turn will attract many investors from abroad. Cambodia itself does not have a broad capital basis. As a consequence, it needs foreign capital to come into the country.

Hun Sen said that people could reject the fact that land price increase in Cambodia is not on par with the rise of land prices in the world: “I talked in Takeo, one politician replied back that the land price increase is due to the price increase on the world market.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Although real estate prices differ vastly from country to country, there is usually a trend in a region. But even a market such as the U. S. shows great disparities in the value of land. The land prices in Cambodia are currently driven by sheer speculation fueled in part by the large presence of South Korean and Chinese investors. In the end, a simple market mechanism will determine whether this rise in land prices is justified – supply and demand.

On his part, opposition leader Sam Rainsy is happy with the Cambodian people to receive such boon from this rise of land price, however, he also warned about other numerous negative impacts, including the social instability in the near future also.Sam Rainsy said: “Those who claim that the increase of land price is his achievement, is not right. Take a look at it, this is not a good achievement, it is a bad achievement instead. These bad achievements came from the fact that it allows crooks, international thieves aka the mafia, to bring in their dirty money to clean up by buying and selling lands. The money belonging to the mafia and the international thieves, they cannot buy goods anyway they want in the world, they must abide by the law. The money collected by corrupt Cambodians is the same also. I say that in our country, there is no stability when the number of poor farmers losing their lands is increasing, and currently, their children also have no jobs, no income. The youngsters now have no jobs and no income, and each year, about 300,000 Cambodians reach the job market, but they couldn’t find any job, and they still live in poverty.”

If this is what Sam Rainsy has to offer as an explanation he is no better than the current Prime Minister. While Hun Sen tends to oversimplify and cast everything in a favorable light to himself and the CPP, Sam Rainsy can only find fault with everything. According to him there is not one positive development in Cambodia. Leaders must be optimistic with a view to the future. Instead of haranguing the present government, he should offer solutions.

What about the construction jobs created because of that building boom? So all those South Korean developers are thieves? Real estate and job creation programs are two different issues. In his usual populist way he lumps everything together. Is this the way a true leader talks?

Displacement of people, high unemployment rates, and continuing poverty are in fact the breeding ground for civil unrest. This is the last thing Cambodia would need at this point. Only irresponsible politicians foment this unrest, pour oil into the fire by making inflammatory speeches and broadcasts. Sam Rainsy is either moving down a dangerous path or he lost sight of the real goal, namely, working for improving life in Cambodia. Cooperation and moderation are much better tools in accomplishing change.

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