On November 15, David Hutt and Shawn W Crispin wrote in Asia Times a speculative piece of a possible Chinese naval base in Koh Kong, Cambodia. However, the authors provided zero evidence on their claim. Given Cambodia’s recent history and as a Cambodian, who is a victim of war, I found the article to be very disturbing. It is just a single article, for now. It might not cost any damage. However, as a reader, I don’t intend to take this sort of opinion lightly.
It is true that Cambodia-China relations have flourished while Cambodia-US ties have been a bit rocky in recent years. It is also true that there’s nothing I can do to stop foreign reporters from expressing their opinions in the way Mr Hutt and Mr Crispin did. They are free to do so in their own professional right. However, the way the allegation has been made without any proof, in the midst of regional power struggles between China and the US, is very unprofessional and careless.
On the other hand, I am very relieved to read an article by Munnyroth, from Rasmei Kampuchea, published on November 17, reporting the reassurance that Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn gave to US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan that such speculations are untrue and Cambodia’s constitution would never allow a foreign military base in the Kingdom.
My hope is that Cambodians take time to validate the speculations made by Mr Hutt and Mr Crispin prior to believing in such a dangerous rumor and to help people around them (Cambodians and foreigners alike) to understand the danger of such an unsubstantiated allegation. I also hope that Mr Hutt and Mr Crispin evaluate the impact of their work on the lives of 15 million plus people prior to writing such baseless speculations.
Sothea Nim is a Cambodian from Montreal, Canada