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"Smarter Aid, not more Aid!"

Your best is not good enough!

Sometimes, your best is simply not good enough, no matter how hard you try.  Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of aid and development. Old chum Nate Rabe discovered that. Thankfully he seems to be doing fine in his post-Aid life. So let this be a warning, especially to those bright young people earnestly pursuing international development studies; with the wanderlust to travel overseas as a rite of passage; to discover themselves, and Yes, even to put the world to rights.

Elections Fervour, Fear Cambodia v UK

Voters who do not turn out at elections often reason “It won’t make any difference, which party to vote for or not at all*”. This is not the case in Cambodia where the ruling party’s strategy makes it clear where benefits will go to, or be forfeited by the way a vote is cast. This picture shows the quality of a publicly-funded road
A key test of a healthy democracy? Read on.

Foreword to this blog December 2017

Firstly you will no longer see Opposition CNRP signs anywhere. They were removed once the Cambodia Supreme Court announced the dissolution of the party.  It is very clear that holding on to power matters more than anything else, yet some kind of election again as in 1998, is still wanted by the ruling party (for international legitimacy) and by many in the international community too- intricately entwined with it (to maintain business-as-usual). That is bound to mean even more manipulation of electoral processes, and even more skewed interpretation of standards to determine if elections are free, fair and credible. The criteria set out in this blog is the basis of how such judgments should be made.

This blog is really a technical assessment to illustrate how elections are determined to be free, fair and credible by international standards.  Repeatedly some commentators cast such judgments on the basis of what they see on polling day, when of course any manipulation or deviation from systems of integrity take place months and years before.

This blog is a companion to an earlier one "Part One" and part of a series in the build-up to the July 2018 elections. My most ominous one "Dark clouds gathering", is the one that predicted what was to happen after the close result in 2014, in my view when PM Hun Sen concluded that his party could no longer be sure of winning elections. "Astute as ever, he soon realized that to take on his friends was much harder (and more dangerous) than his enemies, and so he set about “detecting, disrupting, and destroying” all forms of opposition, whether party political, or neutral civil society, anywhere where absolute loyalty could not be assured."  (Quote from this blog.)

I have regularly posted observations on my twitter account, reminding followers of some essential factors such as the requirement for security services and public officials to be neutral, factors we gave careful attention to in 1998 that are no longer given even tacit respect.

Original blog as posted.

Part Two  (14 June 2017]

Predicting elections is for the foolhardy as Opinion Pollsters are learning.  I can’t claim to be any better.  Like most people, I did not foresee the UK election shock result with the governing Conservative Party losing its majority. Nor did most of us foresee the 2013 Cambodian election where the Opposition CNRP Party almost wrestled power.