By Jonathan Power
Cambodia is no longer going forward, it is slipping backwards, as it has many times before. Earlier this month the government asked the Supreme Court to dissolve the main opposition coalition. One opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was sent to prison last month and the other, Sam Rainsy, is in exile.
The English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, has been closed and the relatively free radio stations leant on and a number closed. The decades-long prime minister, Hun Sen, talks about rebels in the capital, Phnom Penh, plotting to overthrow the government.
Good things still happen. The economic growth nearly touches 7% year after year. Land reform has worked. The health and education of the poor has markedly improved. In other countries, this might be a prelude to political liberalisation. But not in Cambodia. Hun Sen, who before has won many elections, some reasonably honest, some rigged, now fears defeat at the polls next year.
To understand why Cambodia is so we must go back 47 years before the genocidal movement, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, took over.
In 1970 a pro-American military junta led by Lon Nol deposed King Sihanouk, who had succeeded in keeping his country out of the Vietnam War.Read More »