CAMBODIA: A Letter from Cambodian Ambassador for UK
Below is a letter written by Cambidian Ambassador for United Kingdom regarding an article written by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). It is one of many articles that he has written in recent year. We publish it with a note from AHRC.
A note from the AHRC
It is the right of every person to express their views on matters that they believe to be important. The AHRC publishes opinion editorials of numerous journalists, diplomats and human rights defenders from countries across Asia so as to promote free discussion. We are committed to encouraging the free exchange of ideas and opinions in the belief that democracy and human rights will survive only if there is freedom of expression, including freedom of media organizations. The AHRC maintains that topics should be matters of public interest, and views should be expressed in a polite manner.
The views expressed by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth in his article entitled, ‘Respect Ideals and Concepts, not Arbitrary Leaders', is undoubtedly a matter of public interest. Numerous journalists, diplomats and human rights defenders have expressed similar concerns that the current situation in Cambodia is not reflective of the ideal enshrined in Cambodia’s Constitution and the promise made to the Cambodian people; that of a functional liberal democracy. This promise was written after a long period of tragedy in Cambodia. However, it is widely agreed that a functioning liberal democracy is still a distant dream for the Cambodian people.
The lack of judicial independence and threats to freedom of expression are two of the many problems in Cambodia that have been identified by numerous authoritative political and media sources. The AHRC is aware of these issues, and works to promote respect for human rights and legal reform in Cambodia through the publication and dissemination of statements and appeals. For example, the recent episode relating 13 women who were arrested and sentenced relating to demonstrations in Boeung Kak lake area. [link: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-112-2012].
The free expression of views by all people is the primary way that a democracy can begin to confront and resolve problems. We hope that more people will peacefully discuss the issues that face their countries, so as to encourage a vigorous democratic discourse on the issues in Cambodia, as well as the issues facing other countries in the Asian region.
In response to the publication of your article by Dr Gaffar Peang-Meth entitled: Cambodia: Respect ideals and concepts, I have sent Dr Peang-Meth the following response.
In the interests of balance I should be grateful if you will post this letter within the “Views & Opinions” section of your website.
Letter to Dr Gaffar Peang-Meth:
Dear Dr Peang-Meth;
I am responding to your article, Cambodia: Respect ideals and concepts, published by the Asian Human Rights Commission.
I cannot imagine why a normally-respected body such as the AHRC should have chosen to publish your rambling, pretentious, largely irrelevant and clearly politically-motivated article.
I also find it difficult to take seriously someone like yourself who once had such strong associations with Cambodia and yet has chosen not to engage himself in the country’s democratic process but to snap rudely from the sidelines, from a position of comfortable exile in the United States.
It is rather ironic that you should choose to quote the words of the Lord Buddha saying: “Do not depend on others. No-one saves us but ourselves. We ourselves must walk the path.” This from somebody who deserted his countrymen long ago; first to lecture at the University of Guam and now posing as a serious political analyst producing attention-seeking articles for those misguided enough to want to publish them.
The AHRC has also done itself no credit; publishing your latest article and yet at the same time cravenly protesting that it does not necessarily share your views. In which case, one has to ask: why has it provided you with a high-profile platform and the attendant publicity? The AHRC is not a magazine or newspaper seeking to present its public with the widest possible cross-section of views. It is a regional non-governmental organisation with its own very narrow perspective and agenda – which your views seem to admirably compliment.
One can only hope that you will stop writing such virulent criticisms of the democratically-elected government of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and that organisations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission will stop pandering to you.