ACCESSION NUMBER:277084 FILE ID:POL411 DATE:04/08/93 TITLE:EXPERTS SEE UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOR CAMBODIA, VIETNAM (04/08/93) TEXT:*93040811.POL EXPERTS SEE UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOR CAMBODIA, VIETNAM Analyses given at VOA symposium on Indochina) (660) By Jane A. Morse USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Cambodia's future remains dangerously uncertain, even if U.N.-monitored elections scheduled for next month are successful, according to scholars who spoke at an April 7 Voice of America (VOA) symposium on the future of Indochina. Frederick Brown predicted that the U.N.-organized elections scheduled for May 23-27 will in fact be held, despite attacks on U.N. peacekeepers by the Khmer Rouge guerrilla faction. Furthermore, the election process itself promises to be "meticulously careful and technologically sophisticated," he said. The important question now, according to Brown, is: "Will the losers honor the rights of the winners?" In addition, he said, the Khmer Rouge appear determined to be the spoilers in the whole process; about 20 percent of the ballots may be challenged; and, the final results for the election may not be tabulated for 4-5 months. Brown is the director of Southeast Asia Studies at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University's Foreign Policy Institute. Khatharya Um, a research specialist on southeast Asia and consultant for the Rand Corporation, predicted that it would be unlikely that the Khmer Rouge would allow voting within their zones and that there is talk of a de facto partition of the country. Although more than 310,000 Cambodian refugees have been returned to Cambodia, an estimated 190,000 Cambodians are considered displaced persons within their own country, she said. The problems of reintegrating all these people into Cambodian society are enormous, she said, noting that questions have yet to be answered regarding 1roperty ownership rights, and political as well as physical security. Vietnam, while not suffering the political and military turmoil that plagues Cambodia, is facing critical questions regarding its future -- not the least of which those that address its national identity, according to Douglas Pike, director of the Indochina Studies Project at the University of California at Berkeley. Pike is also the director of the Indochina Archives and editor of "Indochina Chronology." Marxism is dead in Vietnam, and economics is in command but Vietnamese have yet to form a social consensus about who they are, where they want to go, and how they will get there, Pike said. Vietnam is in desperate need of a more informed, educated leadership with skills to run a modern society, he said. He added that he is pessimistic that Vietnam will get this kind of leadership any time soon. According to Nguyen Manh Hung, director of the Indochina Institute and associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University, all the indications are that Vietnam will vigorously promote economic reform in a strict socialistic framework and will continue to consolidate power within the communist party. Yet he predicted that it will be difficult for Vietnam to continue a totalitarian regime for long. As for what turn U.S. policy should take toward Vietnam, Brown recommended the establishment of formal bilateral relations. He eschewed the word "normalization," saying it would be impossible for decades for the U.S. and Vietnam to develop relations that could be called "normal." Laos, still one of the poorest countries in the world, is nonetheless making steady, albeit slow, economic progress, according to Stephen Johnson, currently an analyst for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. "The Lao government has been attacking problems in a rational way," he said, and has been somewhat successful in attracting foreign investment. Johnson said that there is little movement now toward a more pluralistic government in Laos, and that the Lao populace doesn't seem to be overly discontented with its leadership. Even so, Lao is a freer society than it was in the past, and there is the possibility that a more democratic state could slowly evolve, he said. NNNN .