O Iron Fist, Where Art Thou?

Monday, April 12, 2010

(Photo: Sovannara, RFI)

The influence of Cambodia’s Strongman’s order

10 April 2010

By Pen Bona
Radio France Internationale

Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer

The raid campaign led against illegal logging is shaking the entire country since mid-March, this is another example of the strong influence of the powerful Hun Xen. Nothing is impossible when it comes to orders issued by Cambodia’s Stongman, even if these orders are very complicated. Nevertheless, Cambodia under the rule of Strongman Hun Xen is riddled with unsolvable problems still, why is that so?

No matter how small or large a problem is, under the weight of Hun Xen’s “Iron Fist”, there is nothing that is impossible. Take for example the complicated problem of illegal logging which lasted for ages and which could not be resolved in the past few decades, it turns out that this problem was smashed broken in the span of a few weeks only.

Even though nobody can claim that illegal logging has ended completely in Cambodia, the latest raids dramatically pushed businessmen and influential government officials involved in illegal logging into a corner. This is not the first time that Hun Xen issued his personal orders to resolve inactions or illegal matters with much efficiency.

One can still remember about the Iron Fist campaign led against corrupt justice officials which took place a few years ago. The campaign led to the demise of several justice officials, as well as to their punishments, or position changes. This does not even take into account his orders to end betting and gambling, to stop using military and police license plates, etc… etc…, i.e. Hun Xen’s orders always brought fruits immediately and they are extremely efficient.

Nonetheless, the paradox is the fact if the prime minister has so much power like this, why a large number of problems are still cropping up again and again, and why are they all unsolvable? To try to answer this paradox, we will try to review a number of problems listed below:

First and foremost, we can see that, in general, connivance is the rule among officials working under Hun Xen. It is true that Hun Xen has power and that he wants to solve all problems immediately, but if the officials working under him are all in connivance for their personal gains, then they can hide everything behind Hun Xen’s eyes, and therefore, none of the problems can be solved.

Furthermore, the lower level of the administration and all levels of the police force, such as the police administration or those who act as the eyes and ears of the government, do not seem to fulfill their daily role properly at all. For example, at the local levels, illegal activities are taking place all the time, but the authorities did not take any measure against them at all. There are three possible explanations for this inaction: (1) the authority is incompetent to take care of illegal actions; (2) for personal gains, the authorities are the one who let illegality fester; and (3) those who commit illegal actions or act as the backers of illegal actions are powerful government officials, this forces the authorities to close their eyes and ears to these illegal activities.

Under these conditions, Hun Xen’s “Iron Fist” orders are necessary to rid of inactions or illegal actions because it is only through such orders that the authorities are forced to fulfill their role properly. However, the problem that remains is that: one cannot always wait for Hun Xen to issue his orders to resolve all the problems that take place.

The best solution that guarantees the permanence of the fight against illegal actions is a strict and uniform application of the law by the authorities. Under that condition, the PM’s orders are still necessary but they would be reserved for major problems only. In this case, small issues do not have to wait for an order from the prime minister in order for them to be resolved.


Post a Comment