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Lack of Morality Hurting Everyday Cambodians: Analyst

Lao Monghay, an independent analyst stopped by VOA Khmer on October 24, 2011.
Lao Monghay, an independent analyst stopped by VOA Khmer on October 24, 2011.

Cambodia’s history shows that a lack of freedoms and equal rights have led to unrest in the past, a pattern that could repeat itself, a leading political analyst said Thursday, adding that Cambodia today is lacking in morals, making it harder for the country to develop.

“There is a gap between rights, or equity, stipulated in the constitution and the implementation,” said Lao Monghay, an independent analyst and monthly contributor to “Hello VOA.” “Practical application is impossible, one can’t exercise one’s rights, and there is abuse of power.”

“What appears is resistance, and that causes everyone’s destruction,” he said.

A similar situation led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, civil war and ultimately the presence of foreign troops, he said. “That’s the history.”

Lao Monghay encouraged Cambodians to exert their own efforts and influence to help their fellow citizens.

“If we have the power and the means, we should relieve other people’s suffering,” he said. “Help each other, be sympathetic with each other, that’s first for society to be comfortable and stable. And if we talk about state governance, that can relieve much of the people’s suffering.”

He pointed to both Buddha and Jayavarman VII, a former Angkorian king, as models who considered the suffering of others the same as their own. Currently, he said, such morality and virtue are lacking in Cambodia’s average citizens and officials. And he said that the “supreme moral law,” compassion, pity, joy with others’ happiness, and sincerity needed to be better applied by citizens.

Robberies, murders, abuse of others, drunkenness and even traffic violations are all examples that indicate low morality, he said. Higher morals would mean less need of laws, but would also lead to the better following of laws, he said.

“Morality is just like a policeman for our selves, maintaining the individual,” he said. “And the law is like the policeman that holds us externally. There is mutual involvement.”

Today, law enforcement is not effective, he said, because the police “are not clean themselves.”

“How can it be fair for law enforcement to enforce the law without the adequate means, salaries and other things?” he said.

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told “Hello VOA” that Cambodia lacks a respect for the law; in something as simple as traffic, it leads to thousands of deaths a year, and the loss of time, money and property. Meanwhile, land grabs are still under way, he said.

“These two issues, multiple that by hundreds, by thousands of other cases in the country’s economy, products, goods and thousands of services, and we see why our country is poor,” he said. “And why others are rich.”