Green Left Weekly-Australia
Sept 30, 1998
Green Left Weekly's news is usually distinguished by its persistent pursuance of democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia.
However, its coverage of the Cambodian elections and aftermath has been shamefully generous towards Hun Sen and the Cambodian Peoples' Party, who, like their Indonesian, Malaysian and Burmese counterparts in tyranny, spare no means in suppressing democracy.
According to Nate Thayer, renowned for his penetrative journalism in Cambodia, the international observers, under pressure from the ASEAN nations and France, were determined to endorse the elections at any cost, despite a preponderance of evidence of intimidation and fraud.
Yet Green Left Weekly took the endorsement by the Joint International Observer Group uncritically. At least the international observers reproach Hung Sen for his past abuses, the bloody July 1997 coup and the deadly harassment of opposition.
According to UN human rights investigators, Hun Sen's government is responsible for over 100 politically motivated disappearances and murders in the past year. I could find not a single allusion to these in Helen Jarvis' "Losers reject election results" (GLW #327).
Jarvis depicts the Cambodian opposition — Sam Rainsy and Prince Ranariddh — as spoilers, bent on advancing questionable causes.
She may have a point: both invoke violent racism against the Vietnamese minority; and both crave power. But her reckless analysis tramples under the courageous associations of women, workers, students and new political parties who struggle for greater freedoms under Hun Sen.
The stolen elections provide much-needed international legitimacy for the corruption, militarism and criminality that define Hun Sen's rule. International approbation means Hun Sen and his circle can resume their real political program: the pursuit of personal power and fortune.
San Francisco USA
Reply by Allen Myers
Paul Keys (Write on, September 30) bases his criticisms of GLW's Cambodian reporting on unreliable sources.
First among these is Nate Thayer, mistakenly described by Keys as "renowned for his penetrative journalism". In fact, Thayer is renowned as the only journalist to whom Khmer Rouge leaders have always been willing to speak.
Thayer's reporting on Cambodia always relies heavily on the views of "observers". These observers are never further identified, but what they claim to be true is, almost invariably, what the US State Department would like to be true.
Thayer makes no secret of his hostility toward the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), which he has opposed for years from the unmistakable standpoint of pro-imperialist anticommunism.
A second unreliable source was the media reports concerning "UN human rights investigators"