Monday, October 10, 2005

Japanese Founder of KR Survivors Fund Unduly Criticized


Monday, August 8, 2005
By Bernard Krisher

As the publisher of The Cambodia Daily, who also happens to be a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust that killed eight of my father’s siblings and many of my cousins whom I played with as a child in the Polish village of Jaslo, I was very moved when I read in this newspaper of Mr Haruhisa Handa’s creation of a fund that would contribute $100 to 10,000 needy survivors of the Cambodian Holocaust (“Japanese Businessman Announces KR Fund,” Tuesday, Page 16). No one should criticize such a noble gesture by an individual who is moved by the suffering Cambodia has undergone, while most of us have been blessed by growing up in a peaceful and prosperous environment. It was unfair, in my view not to provide more balanced comments in the story and only accentuate the negative.

Handa (also known as Toshu Fukami) has already contributed more than any other foreigner to Cambodia without any religious, political or economic motivation. His contributions include the support of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope, construction of rural schools and a computer- training program at the Future Light Orphanage. As chancellor of the University of Cambodia he has been a major patron in establishing a library there as well as offering scholarships to deserving students that otherwise could not afford to pay their tuition fees. Fukami’s magnanimous donation to the widows and orphans of Khmer Rouge victims should be provided by the Cambodian government if it had the money or by those governments who passively stood by including the US and China while Pol Pot murdered his compatriots.

However difficult it may be for the administrators to distribute the money equitably and how undeserving claims can be weeded out, the gesture is admirable and should help to focus on the importance of the coming Khmer Rouge trials as well as the need for other donations that can maintain institutions dedicated to education, health and poverty reduction in Cambodia.


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