How to Promote Good Governance? – Sunday, 3.5.2009

Posted on 4 May 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 610 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 610

Since we lost, in mid 1996, the former financial basis for the production of the Mirror and the Khmer version, the Kanhchok Sangkum, which had been published also on paper since 1997 and 1998, when others started to use the funds that had originally been requested and granted for these two publications, we had to cut down the volume of full length translations to one third or one quarter of what it had been before for the Mirror, and to discontinue the Kanhchok Sangkum’s printed more than 2,000 copies per week for readers in the provinces. I was often concerned that the small number of only 10 to 15 headlines per day, which we normally present, might not be widely appreciated – but I am happy to say that I get, from time to time, also quite positive feedback especially for the headlines section, which “allows the readers to have a regular, good overview over developments in Cambodia.”

At present, while I am bound to be away from Cambodia for some weeks because of a medical emergency in the family, and I am working based more than usually and mainly on the good cooperation with colleagues, I feel now to be also more in the situation of a normal reader from a distance who cannot have a quick look into the text and context of the headlines, to understand better what they mean.

Reading the headlines is therefore more of a challenge. For example, I am asking myself now, how to understand the following headline:

  • “Australia Grants Aid – US$3 million – to the National Radio Station to Implement a Local Good Governance Project”
  • How does one create “good governance” by spending a lot of financial resources? During the same week we have also another headline which reads:

  • “Senior Officials and Members of Parliament from the Cambodian People’s Party Avoid to Attend an Event of Releasing a Publication: a Book on the ‘Rule of Law’ [organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany]”
  • Is this book, which was researched and compiled and produced probably for much less than the amount granted to the National Radio Station, not also an effort to contribute to good governance? But persons in important leadership positions in the country seem to avoid getting publicly in contact with it, in spite of the fact that this organization is normally working in fairly close contact with public institutions including those of the government.

    There are other reports which may be considered to relate to “good governance” in a wide sense of this term: when the Capital Market Institute of Cambodia trains, together with the Paññasastra University of Cambodia, people who will be working at the stock exchange to be opened at the end of 2009, this aspect of professionalization is surely very important. But to be relevant in society, it is necessary that this aspect is also widely accepted and not pushed aside by other, powerful interest – like personal economic gain. The international banking crisis was not caused by people not trained sufficiently: the global economic problems are the result of leaders of big financial institutions looking for short terms big profits, instead of looking responsibly for long term stability.

    The related report about training for the Cambodian Stock Exchange closes with a remark by the deputy director of the Cambodian Stock Exchange Committee, warning that success will depend not only on a professionally created structure, but also on something else: “There is no progress unless there is involvement.”

    Without such positive participation, there is not much hope.

    And how are we to understand the following headline:

  • “At the Cambodian-Laotian-Vietnamese Triangle Zone, Twelve Mining Companies Are Summoned”
  • The related article says: “According to information from the Mondolkiri governor, so far, some companies do not communicate to deliver reports, and some others hold expired licenses and have not come to ask to extend their licenses at the ministries in charge.” How comes – giving this record of reported remarkable irregularities – that the Minister of Commerce called such a meeting only now? The newspaper reported also: “…these companies, at present in Mondolkiri, seem not to be afraid of anything. Some activities of some companies are illegal and are carried out openly, and the authorities from relevant sections do not touch them. They seem to benefit from these mining operations, and they do not even care to deliver reports of the results [of these mining operations].”

    Can “good governance” be achieved by financing “good governance projects”? Probably not, if there is not a strong, visible commitment in the fabric of society, especially its leadership, to promote good governance. With funds or without.

    Norbert Klein

    Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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    2 Responses to “How to Promote Good Governance? – Sunday, 3.5.2009”

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    I still believe that “funding good governance program” can be a good initiative towards “good governance” in Cambodia, because at least you know what is missing and what should be done to start step by step towards good governance.

    Cambodia, society and people, is a very sick organ. Most part of it has no foundation and is living in a polluted environment. When you are fixing one part, another part is collapsing.

    Whether it is donor agency or Cambodian government, they should find the root of what cause the government not to have good governance. Insufficient paid? mistreatment in workplace? Working without a goal? Many Cambodian officials do not have their basic needs fulfilled, and no one can be good if they have not seen what good is in their environment.

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