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Time Will Tell for Obama, Cambodians Say

As US President Barack Obama passed his 100th day in office, Cambodian officials, businessmen and diplomats said the new administration had little impact for them so far, but they were looking to him to help the world recover from the economic crisis.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the Obama administration has had no influence on Cambodia.

“Our small country has not felt any influence,” he said. “If it does, it will take a long time.”

Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc, said no big changes had yet occurred in economics, politics, diplomacy or human rights.

“I don’t see any big change so far,” he said. “I think it’s probably too short a time, because economic issues need more time.”

During the US election, Obama vowed to Americans he would lead them in change, as large problems such as the financial crisis and prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan loomed.

As a global economic and military power and significant donor to countries around the world, the president’s personality has been of importance for other countries.

Phnom Penh businessman Mong Rithy, whose Mong Rithy Group invests in agro-industry, said even though there was not yet a big change, in one year’s time Cambodia could see improvements.

“A hundred days is really a short time, but he came into office during the financial crisis and we are far away,” he said. “We have to wait until next year to see. From what we hear, Obama has made a lot of effort.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy shared a similar view and said he hoped Obama’s administration would soon produce good results for Cambodia.

“Obama cannot do things immediately in Cambodia, but we see in his political agenda that he wants peace, and that is a good sign,” Sam Rainsy said. “Another thing is that he has taken proper action in dealing with the global economic crisis, so he will help restore the world’s economics, and that means he’s helping restore Cambodia’s economy as well.”

Obama, who is 47, came into office during a world financial crisis that is affecting the lives of Cambodian people. He has remained under the gaze of many around the world who believe that improvements in the US economy will improve their own situation.