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Impunity Hurting Political 'Maturity': Official

Cambodia has the potential to be an industrialized nation, but corruption and impunity have kept it politically immature, a former US ambassador said.

Sichan Siv, who serverd as US ambassador to the United Nations, said Cambodia has slowly overcome its problems since the early 1990s, but certain impediments remain.

“The problems of corruption, crime and impunity still exist in Cambodia,” he told VOA Khmer. “However, I believe that when the government and society can solve these problems, our country can achieve political maturity.”

The former ambassador was at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Texas last week, where he paid a call on former president George HW Bush and addressed 200 Boy Scouts on leadership and patriotism.

“I have hopes that Cambodia has the potential to become industrialized, because Cambodian people are hard working, have a strong culture and have a strong civilization,” he said. “Our ancestors built the Angkor temple. This is a symbol of our strong civilization.”

Sichan Siv also said Cambodia could industrialize thanks to the Cambodians’ love of study.

“Just look at the French language,” he said. “Everyone my generation speaks French. Now people speak English. Cambodians like to learn what’s new, to adapt to change.”

Cambodia had enjoyed the double-digit economic growth for the past several years, but the global economic slowdown has drastically reduced projections for 2009.