Friday, September 25, 2009

A Voice of Reason

Rights Leader Urges Reconciliation With Government
By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
25 September 2009

Kek Galabru, founder and president of the rights group Licadho, testified before a US congressional hearing on human rights earlier this month. Following the Sept. 10 hearing, which was held amid concerns the government was cracking down on dissenters, Kek Galabru spoke to VOA Khmer in Washington.

She urged reconciliation between the government and civic groups, and outlined the necessary components of a working democracy, including freedoms and the rule of law.

“I regret that the government still doesn’t understand our intention and classifies NGOs as the enemy of the government,” she said.

Cambodia is like an ill patient, she said, but the symptoms need diagnosed, she said. “It’s just like the doctor. If we want the right medication, we need to tell this kind of sickness or that kind of sickness.”

She said she wanted to work as a partner of the government, not an antagonist.

“Let’s sit down together as Khmer and work with the same intention,” she said. “The government and NGOs are not different at all. It’s just that the government has more financial and human resources. For my group, we need to ask for assistance from outside.

“So we’ll sit together, Khmer and Khmer, and we can find the same formula and cooperate together, and when our country has prosperity, when the people are happy, have enough money, when everyone has land, who will receive the credit? Not the NGOs. They will say, ‘Oh! This government is working good to serve the people; behold.’”

In the meantime, a democracy requires freedom of access to information; freedom of assembly, for peaceful demonstrations and other association; and freedom of expression.

It requires not just a high quantity of newspapers, but quality as well, “good quality writing, without fear, complaint, criminal charges, imprisonment,” she said.

Modern Cambodia is a product of the Paris Peace Accords, signed by 18 countries, including the US, she said. Donors came together to help restore Cambodia, including its court system, to be independent.

“Why so?” she said. “Because any real democratic country, where the people have a good standard of living and the people are in good shape, with good development of their society and economy—they need an independent court system, and if it’s not independent, it’s impossible.”

“So I asked the US, do they have any means to please help reform our court system,” she said.

Kek Galabru also said she did not support the concept of cutting aid money from the US over alleged rights abuses.

“I’m concerned that the people and the poor would be impacted,” she said. “I do not want a cut in aid money. But I want a superpower country that has more abilities, like the US, to seek all means to cooperate with the Cambodian government, to reform them well.”

Now this is what I call a wise woman.


Anonymous said...

Kek Galabru is wise to enlist the U. S. in Cambodian fight for ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, and ‘human rights’.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately some people, like KJE, questionned these self-appointed defenders of human rights and equality really have those people’s interests at heart first.

KJE said...

I am getting the feeling I am debating with children. NGOs and parliamentarians play different roles; for those who don't know.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately some people, like KJE,still claim that they never really hear from the poor, the low-income worker, the average homeland Khmer, in other words, the majority of the Khmer population about human right abuse.

Anonymous said...

Everybody thanks NGO head Kek Galabru and parliamentarian Mu SocHua for telling the truth about the current situation of human right in Cambodia.
Of course, the dictator and his clowns are not happy.

Anonymous said...

Modern Cambodia is a product of the Paris Peace Accords, signed by 18 countries.
18 years later, the government still doesn’t understand NGO intention and classifies NGOs as the enemy of the government.

Anonymous said...

SRP leader Sam Rainsy said that a number of leaders in the current Cambodian government were former Khmer Rouge, they were at least regional cadre leaders, and they still maintain their old mentality and they still use violence, repression to shut down all types of freedom.

Anonymous said...

It is commendable that MP Mu and Sam use all the platforms to fight tyrrany at their own risk in the defense of the small people.

KJE said...

Perhaps it would be best for them to quit politics, where their voice obviously doesn't count for much, and focus on the issues in a different way, e. g. doing real humanitarian work.

Anonymous said...


I like your theory.

Should it apply to the party in power which is directly responsible for the abuse?

18 years after Paris Peace Accords, the government still doesn’t understand NGO intention and classifies NGOs as the enemy of the government.

After they quit politics, I do not recommend them for humanitarian work.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KJE said...

You may have read what I replied to Mr. Klein's comment. The party got 21.91%, not the two leaders. If you can't think clearly you shouldn't post. I removed your comment because I won't be insulted on my own blog. You can have differing points of view, but use normal language. Go back to KI-Media. There you can rant all you want.

Anonymous said...


Can you clarify what do you mean by "The party got 21.91%, not the two leaders."?

KJE said...

See my comment to Norbert Klein under 'Clarification'.

Anonymous said...

How can a man(?) who claims to have European value, ignores the abuse and criticizes the people who protects and defends the abused?