Wednesday, 27.8.2008: Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her

Posted on 28 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“Phnom Penh: Ms. Seng Theary, the president of the Center for Social Development [established in 1995 ‘to promote democratic values and improve the quality of life of the Cambodian people through training, seminars, research, publication, broadcasting, partnership with other like-minded organizations and institutions and dialogue with Cambodians from all walks of life’], has been told to stop to work two times already, because she does not follow her contract responsibly as seen by the board of directors, and still continues to work without caring about the order to stop, issued by the board of directors that has appointed her to this position.

“On 26 August 2008, many journalists went to the Center for Social Development, because they had been informed by phone that the Center for Social Development had planned to hold a press conference, but when they arrived there, they were prevented to enter.

“Mr. Vi Houi, the president of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development, reported to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 25 August 2008 that the board of directors plans to hold a press conference about the firing of Ms. Seng Theary from her work on 26 August 2008, but Ms. Seng Theary’s supporters had requested to discuss the possibility to keep her as the president of the center.

“Mr. Vy Huy added that Ms. Seng Theary has been fired already more than 60 days ago, but she refused to leave. He said that the board of directors has contacted some donor countries, but they had responded asking that at this stage, the donors requested to stay quiet temporarily. If there would be no agreement between Ms. Seng Theary and the board of directors, there would be no salaries for the staff, as well as no money to pay the rent for the office.

“On 26 August 2008, some staff members had distributed some documents to the journalists and asked them to wait outside of the fence, but later there was no one from the center to inform them what happened or to offer interviews to the journalists, so that the journalists, both Khmers and foreigners, after waiting until after 11:00, finally decided to leave.

“The journalists said that maybe the staff of the Center for Social Development asked the journalists to sit and wait, to share with them the arguments between staff and board, that is why they did not offer any interviews and did not say anything at the beginning.

“According to some staff, the Center for Social Development started to have internal disputes, since Ms. Seng Theary had taken full control of the center. As soon as the board of directors had appointed Ms. Seng Theary as president [in 2006], she started to strengthen her power, and when she was strong enough, she did not recognize this board of directors that had assigned her as president, and created another board of directors that supports her, causing rift and turmoil.

Note:

A press release from the staff side is http://www.csdcambodia.org/pdf/2008/PressRelease-30-June-08.pdf/

“Many analysts said that leading a small center, depending on foreign donations, can bring rifts and disagreements: what laws to teach to citizens, and therefore, how citizens can then consider them as models. At present, Khmer citizens are not much weaker in knowledge than Seng Theary; but being the president of the center, she refused to give up her power, but what would happen if she ruled over the rules of the country?

“The letters announcing the press conference of the Center for Social Development on 26 August 2008 say that Ms. Seng Theary had already once been fired on 20 May 2008, and then she was fired a second time by the board of directors on 24 June 2008.

“The board of directors of the Center for Social Development has intervened with Ms. Seng Theary’s work already twice: once on 18 July 2007 and then again on 10 September 2007.

“Ms. Seng Theary has been hired to work since March 2006. During her work at the Center for Social Development, she had attended only four of the nine meeting of the board of directors.

“Ms. Seng Theary does not follow the contract she had agreed to with the board of directors of the Center for Social Development.

“Ms. Seng Theary had formed a board of directors while she was working under the administration of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development. There are eleven members in the new board of directors, as published by the Phnom Penh Post on 16 May 2008.

“Ms. Seng Theary had rejected a request to reorganize the statute structures for the Center for Social Development under the guidance by Oxfam – United States.

“Ms. Seng Theary does not fully cooperate with two arbiters – one comes from an important donor country, and another one is the founder of the Center for Social Development. As a result, the Center for Social Development lost aid from an important donor country.

“Ms. Seng Theary had requested coordination, but that request aims to ask the board of directors to do what she wants; she offered two choices to choose from – to ‘agree’ or to ‘disagree.’ The board of directors had responded by requesting a face-to-face meeting to solve the requests by Ms. Seng Theary, but she considered this response to be a ‘disagree’ answer, and she continues activities in her own ways by publishing another new board of directors’ list on the website of the Center for Social Development.

“It has been 63 days since the board of directors terminated Ms. Seng Theary. To leave her position for a long period vacant would affect the prestige of the Center for Social Development, and also its resources for the foundation. Also other foundations may not continue with their support from about October 2008.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

Note:

Ms. Seng Theary, who earned her degree in law in the USA, became internationally known through her book Daughter Of The Killing Fields – Asrei’s Story, where she describes her early childhood and life under the Khmer Rouge regime, then the flight of her family to Thailand and the resettlement in the USA – the description of her history is regularly accompanied by her own reflections.

As executive director of the Center for Social Development, the activities of the Center and she herself were often in the public limelight because of the controversial nature of these engagements, symbolized in the concern for “Four Freedoms”

“The Voice of Justice Program, at every opportunity, reminds the readers of the Voice of Justice columns or the Voice of Justice Research Bulletins and the radio listeners of the Four Freedoms – i.e., Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Belief, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want – which build the foundation for democracy, human rights, and social and economic development.

We continually lobby for a Freedom of Information Act, for a freer press, for a freer right to assembly, for a freer and open society… for we believe every Cambodian is born to be, and desires to breathe freely.”

These concerns are publicly expressed in the “Voice of Justice Column,” published twice a month in Khmer in Koh Santepheap and in English in The Phnom Penh Post.

Ms. Seng Theary took also an active role in some events which attracted public attention:

  • When the “G8” meeting took place in Germany in 2007 – the leaders of 7 Great industrialized countries plus Russia – an alternative meeting was also organized, as usual, with a critical appraisal of the interests of the powerful as over against the rest of the world, as even such large countries like China and India are not represented, and there are no African or Latin American members in the group. – Ms. Seng Theary was invited to speak to the “P8” meeting as one of the persons from “People” from 8 poor countries, to raise public consciousness of poverty in the world, urging the G8 to take action to end the plight of the poor.
  • The gathering of the “Dream for Darfur,” after having organized similar symbolic actions in different countries’ genocide memorials, planned to light a candle of commemoration at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Memorial in January 2008, led by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and one of the few Tuol Sleng survivors, the painter Mr. Van Nath, coordinated by the Center for Social Development – but this was prevented by armed authorities.
  • More recently, Ms. Seng Theary’s requested to speak as a “civil party” participating in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Trial – where there is also a role foreseen for the participation of victims. But the majority of judges ruled that only lawyers of civil parties could speak in pre-trial hearings, not victims themselves; so far, no victims’ voice could be heard in this court.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #83, 27.8-2.9.2008

  • Mr. Hun Chea [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew] Seeks a Lawyer to Sue an American Newspaper, Accusing it of Defamation [he asks for evidence for the accusation that he drove a car and fatally hit someone in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh]
  • [US Ambassador] Joseph [Mussomeli]: Preah Vihear Temple Dispute Can Be Solved by ASEAN


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

  • Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Samak Says Demonstrations Cannot Force Him from His Position; Siamese [Thai] Police Prepare to Resist 35,000 Demonstrators
  • Rumor in Pursat that the Spirit of Military Chief Khleang Moeung [heroic leader against invading Thai troops around 1482] Tells People Who Were Born in the Year of the Tiger and in the Year of the Monkey to Get Washed with Magic Water, or They Will Meet Danger


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #230, 27.8.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Says that the American Newspaper [The Modesto Bee about a fatal traffic accident and about impunity, saying “The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia”] Reflects the Facts in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy Says Hun Sen Government Is Afraid of Paris Peace Accord, Fearing to Lose Power [over border issue]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #83, 27.8.2008

  • Constitutional Council Refuses to Recount Votes [in Svay Rieng] at Sam Rainsy Party’s Request


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6434, 27.8.2008

  • Miracle before Siam’s [Thailand’s] Invasion: A Piece of Rock from the Phnom Tbaeng Mountain Broke Loose and Rolled Down, and There Was a Pair of Flying Lights in January 2008 [People in Preah Vihear provincial town claim now to remember that back, in the evening of 27 January 2008, they saw two lights flying down from the mountain. One light disappeared at the Preah Vihear Provincial Office and the other light flew to the West]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3549, 27.8.2008

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Criticizes the Constitutional Council and the National Election Committee of Being Puppets of the Cambodian People Party

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – some fundamental challenges into the future

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One Response to “Wednesday, 27.8.2008: Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her”

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Our Khmer people need to learn to promote our fellow citizens and give each other some good compliments which is based on their efford that they put into and by not judgeing them what so ever. we khmer must get together or we have nothing left for our future generations. We only live once as well we leave with the legacy of heroes. Anyway, please don’t take things for granted or you will loss it and you will regret it later. Cheers


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