Monday, May 24, 2010

Murky Waters?

I have once again attracted some attention from a fellow Cambodia blogger for purported support of certain business practices. The post claims I overlooked that some of that money companies paid to the government went missing, disappeared into thin air, so to speak.

I take it these people do read more about Cambodia than average people would, so one would expect their level of knowledge to be somewhat higher. But it must have escaped them that the reports in the papers and the statements from NGOs on those payments weren’t just about transparency. They were also critical of those business practices as such, as these have increasingly become frowned upon, as they are often seen as nothing else than disguised bribes. While no country really gave a hoot about paying bribes, as it was the order of the day in the 90ies, it is now outlawed in most Western countries. It does, however, continue unabatedly in certain parts of the world.

Besides the amounts of those payments, there is not one piece of evidence that was published that would indicate part or all of it disappeared into dark channels. Show me the proof. Don’t just blather for the sake of making yourself heard. Once shown I will believe it. Now I may suspect or assume, but I don’t know, and you don’t either. Have any you of ever heard the word fairness? Only small- and narrow-minded people use the tactics of their opponents. I know it is quite fashionable to use blanket condemnations whenever it comes to the Cambodian government.

What I miss in all these blogs and most of the newspaper reports is a balanced view of things. Especially that blogger Details-are-Sketchy is quick with her condemnations and snide remarks. It would behoove her well if she sometimes used some restraint before going off half-cocked. A lot of the people who write comments there are no doubt blessed with congenital rectitude, which gives them the right to ride the high horse, giving them a moral superiority, and making them, in the end, nothing but hypocritical and self-righteous. They spew forth words of outrage and moral indignation, not to mention their tendency to judge things on appearances and hearsay without really knowing the full facts.

I am not disputing wide-spread corruption in Cambodia, not even the Prime Minister does that. Some bonehead even once suggested that I support corruption. How stupid can people be? It just goes to show that their intellectual faculties aren’t quite developed yet.

But most reporters, let alone bloggers have no well-founded insight into the real state of affairs in Cambodia. They write from their desks in some foreign country or, if in the country for just a few days, believe they have learned everything there is to know. Most expatriates don’t have any real contact with the local population or the government, apart from getting driver licenses. So what is their knowledge based on?

Regrettably, the government is not really forthcoming with their information policy either, but does that give people the right to smell corruption at every twist and turn of political life in Cambodia? And I also find it deplorable that the national budget, for instance, is not published in great detail for the public to see how funds are spent and where all those donations go.

But rest assured, you zealots, the donor nations do gather detailed information on governance and how funds are spent; and they have noted improvements. Or do you really think they would increase their aid to Cambodia year after year? After all, it reached close to $1.0 billion in 2009.

The U. S. once found that about $500 million a year are lost due to corruption. One of their agencies (I forgot which one and couldn’t bother to research that) had undertaken a study in 2001 (was it?) and had come up with that number. Both the previous and the current ambassador mentioned that figure in public. Whether this number is correct or not is subject to interpretation. U. S. government reports aren’t the most accurate ones as we all know. Just take the reports on Iraq and Afghanistan. They are oftentimes miscalculated and misinformed. They certainly aren’t the gospel. Corruption by its very nature is done in secret. So I wonder how do people come by their findings – by asking people on the street?

This number is used time and again by all people who feel called upon to condemn and criticize everything the Cambodian government does. If you analyze that number, you will find that it is grossly exaggerated, especially the past few years. People are just wont to paint pictures with really broad brushstrokes, without bothering with the finer details. Well, I guess you can’t expect more from people with half-assed knowledge, much less experience.

So, before you people get up onto that soapbox, take a deep breath and reflect on the things you write about first. Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be.

And then there is this guy who obviously has it in for me. Judging from his comments, he must be a very immature young man. He is certainly the most vile and mean-spirited character I have encountered on the Internet in a long time. His accusations and insults directed at me, without knowing one iota about me, clearly puts him in a category of its own, a category that is normally reserved for gangbangers and similar scum. Only the anonymity of the Internet allows him to write his comments this way. He wouldn’t dare look people in the face and repeat them. But then, the Internet brings out the worst in some people. He fits right in with the people who comment on KI-Media. If he does live in Cambodia, I wonder what made him come here. He is probably one of those losers who didn’t make it in the West. Go home, buddy, do your good deeds in your home country. You are not needed here, much less, what you contribute to Cambodia, and I doubt very much that you contribute anything at all.

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