Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Khmer Radio

Civil Society Needs More Self Reliance, Researcher Says

A civil society organizations' meeting in Phnom Penh.A civil society organizations' meeting in Phnom Penh.
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A civil society organizations' meeting in Phnom Penh.
A civil society organizations' meeting in Phnom Penh.
Im SothearithVOA Khmer
Cambodian civic groups depend too much on foreign aid, undermining their independence and the functions of civil society, a Cambodian researcher says.

Sothy Khieng, a doctoral candidate in organizational science and the VU University Amsterdam, told “New Voices” on Monday that their dependence on outside aid means civic organizations don’t have the stability they need.

Khieng Sothy, a Cambodian Ph.D candidate in organization sciences at VU University Amsterdam discusses effects of NGO’s commercial activities to the development of Cambodia during VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA radio call-in show in Phnom Penh, February 18, 2013. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)Khieng Sothy, a Cambodian Ph.D candidate in organization sciences at VU University Amsterdam discusses effects of NGO’s commercial activities to the development of Cambodia during VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA radio call-in show in Phnom Penh, February 18, 2013. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)
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Khieng Sothy, a Cambodian Ph.D candidate in organization sciences at VU University Amsterdam discusses effects of NGO’s commercial activities to the development of Cambodia during VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA radio call-in show in Phnom Penh, February 18, 2013. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)
Khieng Sothy, a Cambodian Ph.D candidate in organization sciences at VU University Amsterdam discusses effects of NGO’s commercial activities to the development of Cambodia during VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA radio call-in show in Phnom Penh, February 18, 2013. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)
When donors shift their focus, certain organizations lose their support, weakening their effectiveness, he said.

“Foreign aid creates a dependency syndrome in civil society,” he said. “When donors face financial challenges themselves or when they shift priority to other countries, like in Africa, some organizations have to close down or find alternative approaches to survive.”

Sophal Ear, author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy acknowledged the importance of civil society for Cambodia’s development, but he said for now these organizations are far too weak to keep the government in check.

“Civil society is essentially the only area where you have a chance, basically, to call out the government’s malfeasance,” he said. “And the role of civil society is still limited and weak in Cambodia.”

Based on his own research, Khieng Sothy said the answer is financial self-reliance. Civil society organizations should consider transforming themselves into “semi-profit-making” ventures, while maintaining their original mission and vision.

However, callers to “New Voices” expressed concern, saying such a shift could jeopardize the mission and goals of civil society groups.

Khieng Sothy acknowledged that some problems remain, but he said he has found in his research that business activities can positively impact the operations of civil society. Self-reliance can be a viable approach to sustainability and independence for civil society, he said.
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Cambodia Foreign Minister UN Speech Touches More on World Issues, Less on Cambodiai
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29 September 2014
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong's speech to the UN’s General Assembly on Monday in New York touches more on world issues and less on Cambodia. Before delivering his speech at UNGA, Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia was now enjoying peace and political stability after the two winning political parties in 2013 election had agreed to work together. His speech comes as Cambodia’s profile on the world stage has expanded in recent years. Cambodia has and improved economy and a growing participation in UN missions around the world. But Hor Namhong’s speech also comes amid deep criticism of Cambodia’s human rights record and a controversial agreement with Australia to help it resettle refuges in exchange for aid money. (VOA Khmer's Pin Sisovann, Washington)

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