Turning Corrosive Capital into Constructive Capital – Asia & Pacific Event Series: Cambodia

10.28.2021, 9:00AM

About the Event

How can Indo-Pacific countries that need foreign investment guard themselves against corrosive capital that threatens to corrupt markets and weaken governance, while also building a better environment for constructive capital that generates greater opportunity? This is the focus of a new event series by CIPE and partners across Asia and the Pacific region. The second event in this series, on October 28, is a virtual panel discussion co-hosted by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Future Forum of Cambodia.   

Chinese investment in Cambodia has increased in recent years, including through the Belt and Road Initiative. New case studies by Future Forum and its regional BRI Monitor partners highlight the unique challenges associated with this funding, including by comparing a Chinese-funded road project with a Japanese-funded road project. This allows Future Forum to highlight risks that are specific to Chinese funding and risks that require broader progress on governance gaps. Panelists will also discuss the importance of transparency to protecting vulnerable populations and the environment.

About the Panelists

Virak Ou is the founder and the President of Future Forum, a think tank dedicated to public policy issues. He is also the founder of the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC), and winner of the Reebok Human Rights Award for his civil society campaign for freedom of expression and for the release of human rights advocates imprisoned for criticizing the Cambodian government. Working in law and public welfare, Virak returned to Cambodia to lecture on economics at Pannasastra University, Phnom Penh. He joined the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) as Advocacy and Public Relations Director in 2005, and became its President in 2007. That year, he was the winner of the Reebok Human Rights Award for his civil society campaign for freedom of expression and for the release of human rights advocates imprisoned for criticizing the Cambodian government. Virak leads the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC), working with other NGOs to promote and protect freedom of expression, information, and assembly in Cambodia. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Cambodian NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body, and represents this NGO Working Group to the Cambodian Joint Government-NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body. Virak also represents the Cambodian NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body to the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

Chen Heang is a junior research fellow and Project coordinator at Future Forum, the Phnom Penh-based Public Policy Think Tank. In 2020, he joined Future Forum’s research program as a young researcher. During his time at Future Forum, he also contributed opinion articles to both local and regional news outlets. Chen Heang earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Cambodia.He researches Chinese Infrastructure Projects in Cambodia and Cambodia’s Position in China’s Sea Power Projection.

Courtney Weatherby is a Deputy Director of the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Program and a Research Analyst with the Energy, Water, & Sustainability program. Her research focuses on sustainable infrastructure and energy development challenges in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific. She has led a series of technical studies examining the nexus of issues in food, water, and energy in the Greater Mekong Subregion, with particular focus on Thailand’s electricity trade with neighbors and the 3S River Basin in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. She also provides support to the development and management of the Mekong Dam Monitor, a platform for near-real time monitoring of dams and environmental impacts in the Mekong Basin, and the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker, a platform to track, monitor, and quantify the development of energy, transportation, and water infrastructure in South East Asia. She holds a M.A. in Asian Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a B.A. in East Asian Studies with honors from Dickinson College.

John Morrell is the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). In this role, he leads a worldwide team of accomplished professionals, and is responsible for strategically guiding program development and ensuring effective implementation of a portfolio of programs on anti-corruption, corporate compliance, women’s economic empowerment, public and private sector governance reform, and creating political space in closed countries. He personally designed and implemented numerous initiatives that build the political, civil, and market institutions necessary for private sector led economies and democratic societies across Asia and the Pacific.

About the Event Series

This event is the second of five in a series of bi-weekly discussions on findings from the BRI Monitor, a regional project that seeks to identify governance gaps associated with Chinese-funded projects and advocate for greater transparency and good governance. Each meeting will highlight findings from one of the BRI Monitor partners as part of a discussion on transparency and governance with experts on the focus country or project type. The BRI Monitor is a project by five partners from Southeast Asia and the Pacific: IDEAS (Malaysia), Stratbase ADRi (the Philippines), Institute for National Affairs (Papua New Guinea), Future Forum (Cambodia), and Sandhi Governance Institute (Myanmar). The BRI Monitor includes case studies and a transparency heatmap that assesses the transparency of BRI projects along 38 project data points that should be proactively released by host countries.

Save the Date for the Next Events:

  • November 17: Philippines
  • December 2: Malaysia
  • December 6: Papua New Guinea

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