The following letter was published in the Bangkok Post on May 4, 1999 in response to a column by Kassie Neou that was published by the Post on April 29.

Newfound rights amounted to little Kassie Neou is right to point out that not all of Cambodia's public servants are bad (April 29). But his use of last year's elections as an example of progress seems self-serving.

Mr Neou didn't mention it in his column, but he was vice-chairman of Cambodia's election commission. Like the other members, he was named by Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party. So he should be in a good position to explain why the commission changed the rules to suit the CPP victory plan, hid the ballots from party observers, refused to investigate hundreds of official complaints and recounted half of one percent of the ballots.

If many Cambodians first became aware of their basic democratic rights through the elections, as Mr Neou says, it was only just in time for them to watch their newfound rights being trampled--first by the election commission, then by the international community, and finally by the ruling party's death squads.

Ask around in Cambodia. Other than diplomats and the ruling party flunkies, you won't find a lot of people who think the election results reflected the people's will.

What a sad example of public service. No doubt Mr Neou had his reasons for playing along, but that doesn't make him part of the better future he wishes for Cambodia.

By the way, Mr Neou, got any news on those four million blank ballots that are still missing?

Rich Garella
Former communications officer for the Sam Rainsy Party
Seattle, Washington

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