The following interview was conducted with a Cambodian American that the interviewer knows personally as someone who has written extensively on Cambodian issues and is a very active member of the Cambodian community in the United States and elsewhere. The interviewee asked to remain anonymous.
The interviewee has seen two Cambodian wars in the 1970s and 1980s, and the 1997 coup, and returned to Cambodia to help it transition under UN led elections in the mid 1990s.
*Image Angkor Wat by the author
Alexa O'Brien: For purpose of our discussion I would like for you to paint a broad stroke on Cambodia politics over the course the cable release, between 1994 to 2010. It covers a lot of ground, which of course we cannot completely cover.
Perhaps you could start off by giving me a general picture of the structure and climate right now in present day Cambodia.
What I can tell right you now about Cambodia is that the country, under the current leadership...the current ruling party hasn’t changed as much, compared to what you and I saw, what we knew way back ten or fifteen years ago...
What I am trying to say is that when Westerners think of Cambodia is a more developing country, perhaps they look at what they see in the city. But if you go out ten or fifteen kilometers away from the city life is totally different for average Cambodians...
…and the political structure is the same and elections are just a way of telling the world that Cambodia is open...because we have regularly scheduled elections...it doesn't matter whether the elections are free and fair...
So, they have to show the world that they are making progress, but in fact the substantive change is not there to be found.