Cambodia less stable than Iraq and Afghanistan?

April 14, 2009

There’s a report going around in Cambodia that everyone it seems can’t stop talking about: The Economist puts Cambodia in the Top 5 of countries most at risk of social unrest as the economic crisis deepens. The announcement was such a blow, it seems everyone has protested. The prime minister mentions the report every chance he gets, only to blast it. Businessmen have spoken out. Even the journalists most critical of the government can’t seem to believe it.

Frankly, I have a hard time believing it myself. Cambodia is ranked on par with Sudan, whose president was just indicted by the International Criminal Court (something our prime minister doesn’t like either), where aid workers get murdered by the dozen and Darfuris by the hundreds of thousands. In these rankings, Cambodia, which has been at peace for more than a decade, is only topped by Zimbabwe (its dictator, its inflation, its cholera), Chad (its border wars, its coups) and DR Congo (no list necessary). But are considered more stable than the Khmer kingdom: Iraq, which we’re told could fall back into violence any day now; Afghanistan, which we’re told never really got out of it; Pakistan, which we’re told is the next hotbed of terrorism; and the Central African Republic, where Cambodia happens to be sending peacekeepers. Moldova, Thailand and the Czech Republic, where governments are indeed wobbling, also rank much better. It’s simply hard to swallow.

To understand the outrage of pretty much everyone in Cambodia over what could, after all, only be another list compiled by a reader-hungry magazine, you must know two things.

Read the rest of this post on Isabelle Roughol’s blog.