Archive for October 5th, 2008

Saturday, 4.10.2008: The Company’s Armed Persons Harassed the Residents of the Boeng Kak Lake Strongly

Posted on 5 October 2008. Filed under: Week 580 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 580

“The smell of Num Ansam [cooked sticky rice with sweet or salty fillings in banana leaves] made for the Khmer traditional festival of the Pchum Ben days, has not gone yet, but the residents at the Boeng Kak Lake started to worry again, as the forces of the company, that received the right to develop the Boeng Kak Lake, began to cause disturbance by driving a boat to destroy the water convolvulus [trakuon in Khmer ត្រកូន, widely known in southeast Asia also as water spinach, swamp cabbage, water morning-glory, kangkung (Indonesian, Malay), kangkong (Tagalog), eng chai (Hokkien), tangkong (Cebuano), kang kung (Sinhalese), pak boong (in Thai ผักบุ้ง) (Thai), rau muống (Vietnamese), kongxincai (Chinese: 空心菜; pinyin: kōngxīncài – literally ‘hollow heart vegetable’), home sum choy (Hakka), and ong choy or tung choi (Cantonese for 蕹菜, ngônkcôi; pinyin: wéngcài)] planted by the citizens for sale. They used a gun to threaten to shoot anyone who dares to stop their activities.

“A resident told reporters in the morning of 3 October 2008 that in the evening of 2 October 2008, a boat was driven around the Boeng Kak Lake. Moreover, they drove it to destroy the water convolvulus patches [planted on the water of the Boeng Kak Lake] by the people, planted for sale. This resident added that when they got out from their houses and shouted, ‘Why are you driving a boat to destroy our water morning-glory plants like this?’ the persons who drove that boat pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot.

A picture of the Boeng Kak Vegetable Plantations can be seen by clicking here.

“Many residents said that the persons who drove that boat might be armed persons of the company that is dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak Lake, because previously, there was nobody driving a boat to destroy the residents’ water morning-glories like that, and the boat was found moored near the company’s site disposing the dredged sand. Such activity is considered by the residents to be harassment aiming to force the residents to leave the Boeng Kak region, since the residents protested against being forced by the authorities to leave the area in exchange to a little money, which they regard as an unacceptable solution.

“Because the solutions suggested by the Phnom Penh authorities and by the company are improper and unacceptable, many residents started to protest and to lodge complaints to the court by asking for an injunction to stop dredging sand temporarily and to wait to find solutions. However, the complaint of the residents meant nothing to the Phnom Penh court of first instance, and finally, the court rejected the complaint of the residents and allowed the company to continue dredging sand. Even during the Pchum Ben days, the company continued dredging sand, making the sewage water to rise and almost flood the residents’ housing; therefore, they could not go to celebrate the Pchum Ben days at far places, because they worried that their housing would be flooded.

“So far, the activity of driving a boat to destroy the residents’ water convolvulus plantations is a sign showing that they began harassing the people to make them leave the area, and they assumed that if the residents do not agree to accept the small solutions offered, other activities might happen towards the residents, because the people in Phnom Penh know the iron fist of our municipal governor who never helped the people in the past, but he is good at ordering armed persons to carry out destructions; they always hear the words, ‘Take it or not – and if not, get nothing.’ Like the eviction of people at the Monivong site, at Sambok Chab, and the Dey Krahom communities, because of the struggle for profit, some residents were arrested, and now, they are still in detention because of different accusations.

“As for the residents at the Boeng Kak Lake, many in the general public said that their fate might not be much different from that of the residents at the Dey Krahom or the Monivong communities. The company and the Phnom Penh authorities have never shown to the people the contract for leasing the Boeng Kak Lake. On the contrary, they tried to hide it from the people and tried to calm the situation, so that it should not become too bad before the fourth term parliamentary elections.

Note 1:
Some sections from the Mirror of 21.2.2007, according to Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5971, 20 February 2007:

Hun Sen’s 11-Point Recommendations for the Environment: Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources Caused by Business Activities Will Result in the Loss of Natural Opportunities

“Phnom Penh: Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen presented some key points and recommendations relating to possible challenges in the future for natural resources and some environmental activities, during a conference on the environment looking back at the year 2006. The meeting also set some goals for 2007. His recommendations are as follows:

2. “Conservation and protection of protected natural resources: Samdech Prime Minister emphasized that offenders must be held fully responsible. Actions have already been taken against those who committed offenses in Vireakchey Park and in Koh Kong Province.

3. “Strengthening the management of protected national resources and related communities: To successfully and effectively achieve these goals, local people should participate in the implementation of related programs. Samdech Prime Minister recommended that the Ministry of Environment should work with officials at all levels to create community statutes for their management and to ensure equity in receiving benefits from protected natural resources.

7. “Assess Sources of Impacts: Samdech Hun Sen encouraged the Ministry of Environment to transparently assess impacts of any investment projects.

10. “Duties of local authorities: It is hard to believe that local authorities do not know about offenses committed in their communities. Some authorities do not cooperate well with the Ministry of Environment but have to improve.”

“What was seen was that, as soon as the elections were over and the results were released, the company started dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak region immediately, without caring to find solutions, making many residents protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality. The Phnom Penh authorities appeared to solve the problems instead of the company, and still urge the residents to take US$8,000 or a small flat in a Phnom Penh suburb in exchange for leaving the Boeng Kak area, in order to let the company develop it.

“Some information sources said that some residents agreed with the solutions suggested by the Phnom Penh authorities, because they have no hope that the protests according to the law will help, and they know many similar experiences [of other evicted residents in some communities mentioned above]. Another point is that the residents, who had agreed with the solutions offered, lived in small housing on stilts over the surface of the water, for them the money given is appropriate. As for residents who own big houses or land, they do not agree with such solutions, and they ask the Phnom Penh authorities for solutions according to the market price of US$2,000 per square meter.

“Probably because of that protest, armed persons from the company began harassing the citizens, so that they give up and agree to accept the improper solutions.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3418, 4.10.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 4 October 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1759, 4.10.2008

  • Teachers’ Day [5 October 2008] Is Taken to Be a Day to Demand the Decrease of the Price of Fuel [to Riel 4000 per liter and for an appropriate increase of teachers’ salaries – according to Mr. Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party Intend to Create an Alliance in the National Assembly [in order to have a stronger voice in the National Assembly – a party or an alliance needs at least 10 seats to speak in the plenary – this will allow the Human Rights Party deputies also to speak]
  • Cambodia Restricts the Import of Milk Powder Productions Contaminated with Melamine
  • UN Calls on Burma to Release [more than 2,000] Political Prisoners

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #256, 4.10.2008

  • Khmer Krom Representatives Put Hope on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh to Help Khmer People in Kampuchea Krom [in Vietnam – after a meeting with US Embassy officials in Phnom Penh on 2 October 2008]

Khmer Sthapana,Vol.1, #108, 4.10.2008

  • Cambodian-French Naval Exercise Will Be Held in the Sea off Sihanoukville [on 4 October 2008]
  • Thailand Plans to Transport 122 Tonnes of Milk Powder Back to China

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6464, 4-5.10.2008

  • A Hearing of [five] Former Khmer Rouge Soldiers in Anlong Veng over the Killing of an English Deminer and a Khmer Man [who was his interpreter] in 1996 Is Opened [the suspects could not deny the accusation, because about 20 deminers witnessed the event; the judgment will be announced on 14 October 2008]
  • Cambodia Can Earn US$500 Million per Year from Palm Trees [if exploitation is fully conducted on palm trees though the productions of sugar, wine, or other products – according to Confirel, between US$101 and US$224 can be earned from one palm tree per year, and there are 2.5 million palm trees at present]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3579, 4-5.10.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: The Attendance [by the Sam Rainsy Party] at the First Session of the National Assembly Was to Guarantee the Official Recognition of the Opposition Party
  • The President of the Opposition Party [Mr. Sam Rainsy] and Hun Sen Plan to Meet Samdech Euv [the Father King] Separately in Beijing
  • The United States Played an Important Role for the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [because it was from the USA that the initiative came to create the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – this is to what national and international observers point]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4707, 4.10.2008

  • Thai Black-Clad [border protection] Soldiers Opened Fired on Cambodian Troops at the Preah Vihear Border Region [according to Colonel Yiv Vann Thorn, there was a group of armed Thai soldiers, entering Cambodian territory at Phnom Trop at the top of Dangrek Mountains which is not far from the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda; then, the Cambodian troops told them to withdraw and they agreed, but after leaving 100 meter from the point, Thai solder fired a rocket on Khmer solders, slightly injuring a Khmer soldier on his arm, and to protect themselves, Khmer soldiers returned fire, injuring a Thai soldier]
  • The United States Worries that Khmer Islam Would Create Turmoil [delegations from Kuwait and Qatar pledged to provide US$700 million loans and to invest in Cambodian infrastructure, Khmer Muslim might be sent to be trained in anti-Western theories in southern Thailand and in Pakistan; however, Kuwait and Qatar, and Mr. Othsman Hassan, the president of the Cambodian Islamic Development Foundation, rejected these allegations]

Note 2:

Both Phnom Trop and the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda are located in ‘buffer zones’ which the representative of the Cambodian Government signed in the Joint Communique of 18 June 2008 – the final document presented to UNESCO before the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site, as follows: ‘The Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.’ – The Mirror had carried more details here.

Note 3:

Report from the other side – from the Bangkok Post:

Border shootout prompts protest to Cambodia government

Five Troops Wounded in Exchange of Fire

by Thania Tansubhapol and Wassana Nanuam

The Thai Foreign Ministry yesterday protested to the Cambodian government for what it sees as aggression and a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty and territorial integrity committed by Cambodian soldiers. On Friday, Thai and Cambodian soldiers in the border area of Si Sa Ket province clashed.

Two Thai and three Cambodian soldiers were wounded.

Cambodian charge d’affaires to Bangkok Ouk Sophoin was summoned last night to meet permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul at the ministry and was given an aide-memoire.

Speaking after the one-hour meeting, Mr Virasakdi said Thailand had protested to Cambodia after its troops opened fire on the Thai troops.

”The Thai government demands the Cambodian government ensure that a similar incident does not recur because this incident might affect attempts by both countries to seek a peaceful solution to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute,” said Mr Virasakdi.

The Thai para-military rangers from Suranaree Task Force were patrolling along the Thai-Cambodian border inside Thai territory near Phu Ma Khua last Friday.

When they arrived in an area about one kilometre to the west of Preah Vihear temple, they discovered an intrusion into Thai territory by a group of Cambodian soldiers who were digging trenches in the area around Preah Vihear temple.

Four unarmed Thai para-military rangers were told to notify the Cambodian soldiers that they had intruded into Thai territory and asked them to leave.

But the Cambodian soldiers consulted their superiors by radio and were heard to receive instructions to fire at the Thai soldiers.

The Cambodian troops started firing their guns into the air. The Thai para-military rangers decided to leave the scene when the Cambodian soldiers opened fire at them, prompting the Thai unit stationed nearby to return fire to protect the Thai troops.

”The Thai government considers the intrusion of the Cambodian soldiers into Thailand’s territory a serious violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

”Firing on unarmed Thai para-military rangers is a brutal and aggressive act and is contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between the two countries,” said the aide-memoire.

Mr Virasakdi said digging trenches violated the agreement between the two armed forces made during the Special Meeting of the Thailand-Cambodia Regional Committee in Surin province on Aug 13, that both sides must refrain from digging trenches close to the Preah Vihear.

The Cambodians’ action also violated the agreement between the two foreign ministers for soldiers from the two sides to exercise restraint, he said.

”Mr Ouk Sophoin was still adamant that the incident occurred inside Cambodian territory, according to their report,” he said.

The Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh was summoned to a protest by the Cambodian government.

Former deputy army chief Vichit Yathip, who has a close relationship with Cambodian military leaders, said he had spoken to Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh about the clash.

Gen Vichit said a soldier cracked under the strain and fired shots into the air, prompting the exchange of gunfire.


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3418, 4.10.2008

  • The Company’s Armed Persons Harassed the Residents of the Boeng Kak Lake Strongly

Click here to have a look at the last editorial: Pchum Ben – remembering those before us – to think into the future

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