Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy

By Un, Kheang | Contemporary Southeast Asia, August 2013 | Go to article overview

Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy


Un, Kheang, Contemporary Southeast Asia


Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy. By Sophal Ear. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013. Hardcover: 185pp.

As this review was being written, Cambodia was preparing for its fourth general election since the historic elections sponsored by the United Nations (UN) in 1993. Those elections helped propel Cambodia from war to peace, and from autarky to global integration. As a result, the Cambodian economy has, since the turn of the century, experienced on average near double-digit annual growth, driven mainly by the tourism and garment sectors. Politically, Cambodia has held regular multi-party elections at the national and sub-national levels. Despite these developments, there exist diverse assessments of Cambodia's political and economic trajectory, varying from the image of a glass half-full to half-empty. Public opinion surveys conducted by the International Republican Institute--a U.S. based agency that promotes democracy around the world--have consistently shown that over three-quarters of Cambodians shared a favourable view that Cambodia "is headed in the right direction".

Sophal Ear, an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, offers a glass half empty diagnosis. He suggests that while on the surface Cambodia appears to be headed in the right direction, closer scrutiny reveals signs for concern and that the country is "one broken government away from disaster" (p. 133). According to the author, Cambodia has become "a kleptocracy cum thugocracy" (p. 8) in which the political and economic elites have colluded to exploit the country's natural resources and divert foreign aid for personal gain as well as to perpetuate the country's patronage based politics. In the meantime, the quality of democracy has declined with an absence of inter-institutional accountability, deterioration of the rule of law and tightly restricted civil liberties as the long ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) monopolize power.

Ear postulates that Cambodia's growth has occurred without development, signified by the country's rising inequality, declining freedom and widespread poverty. Growth without development in Cambodia is attributable to the lack of good governance, a problem closely associated with the generous inflow of development assistance. Foreign aid is a hindrance to sustainable development for it enables the government to forgo tax collection, a condition that perpetuates the absence of governmental accountability and responsiveness. The author faults the Western donor community for being short sighted and self-serving, basing the continuation of their assistance on Cambodia's political stability and Western interests rather than on promoting good governance and democracy. Donors, Ear rightly argues, equate democracy with elections and this equation has perpetuated the facade of democracy in Cambodia. In certain respects, Western governments face a dilemma in pushing for genuine democracy and good governance due to the emergence of alternative donors--particularly China--whose aid to Cambodia is not linked to improvements in human rights and democracy. Cambodia's linkage to these non-traditional donors serves as a countervailing force to Western donors' attempts at promoting democracy and human rights.

The book devotes considerable attention to explaining the paradox of economic growth under conditions of weak governance by examining three sectors--garments, rice and livestock. Rather than an outcome of "good governance", the garment sector's growth has been made possible by three factors; first, the presence of a strong and unified Garment Manufacturing Association with a history of working with the Ministry of Commerce to reduce corruption and create predictability; second, the favourable external market under conditions of preferential treatment based on garment sector's good labour practices that respect workers' rights; and third, these good labour practices are the product of semi-corporatist arrangements involving producers, the government and the International Labour Organization. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.