Land-Grabbing Is Nothing New to Australian Gov't
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Letter to the Editor
Sorry, Group 78 : Land-Grabbing Is Nothing New to Australian Gov’t
It is sadly advisable that the Group 78 villagers seek other alternatives and do not hold their breath waiting for Australia's intervention in their plight. (“Villagers Seek Australian Embassy's Help in Saving Homes,” Friday, page 16).
Australia's national interest does not incorporate underdogs with nothing more than a misguided concept of human rights, fairness and decency. The discovery of oil and gas reserves in Cambodia and other possible mineral deposits are simply too much to pass over. It is profitable for Australia to adopt a constructive engagement policy that fattens up its bank accounts, while paying lip service to decency and human rights.
Land grabbing is nothing new to Australia, and this prevents Australia from seeing what the fuss in Cambodia is an about.
When the first Europeans arrived in Australia they declared the land “terra nullius,” even though the aborigines had been on the continent for thousands of years.
To make way for new development, the Europeans killed so many landowners that the natives became virtually extinct in some parts of the country. The new Australian Embassy will, thus, feel at home located next to the pain and sufferings of the Group 78 villagers, whether they are removed or not.
Australia is unlikely to do anything to damage its constructive engagement that will secure so much commercial benefit in Cambodia. Their similar policy with China has paid off so handsomely. Therefore, it is nothing personal when they ignore a plea for help.