Archive for October 14th, 2008

Week 581 – 2008-10-13: Peace or War? Peace!

Posted on 14 October 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 581 |

For almost a generation, most Cambodians had such bitter memories of the Khmer Rouge period that they resisted anything that might remind or reawaken the conflicts of that period. Now, although the process is slow, the country is working toward justice through the Khmer Rouge trial and, in the process, striving to look at the hard lessons of that period and to strengthen the rule of law.

Unfortunately, there is apparently no similarly productive and thoughtful process to deal with and learn from the experience of the war during that same period. The memories, of how bitter, destructive, and useless armed conflict is, seem to have been forgotten. In particular, during recent months, there have been more and more calls for violent solutions to a dispute over land along the border with Thailand.

These calls are apparently in ignorance of the fact that on 18 June 2008, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers So An had signed, for the Royal Government of Cambodia, that “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,” and that the map appended “supersedes the maps… as well as all the graphic references… of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file” previously presented to UNESCO with maps dating back to 1962 and 1907.

This 18 June 2008 Joint Communique [ file size of the text and the map 1.3 MB PDF], signed for the Royal Government of Cambodia – together with a representative of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO – to leave the question of ownership of the areas to the north and west of the temples undefined until further negotiations, is rarely if ever reported in the press in Cambodia. However, it is well known in Thailand.

Over a week ago, there was a brief exchange of fire between Cambodian and Thai soldiers. It resulted in bloodshed. Fortunately, there were not many soldiers from either side involved. If a similar incident had happened at the time when about two thousand soldiers were facing each other close to the Preah Vihear Temple, even an unintentional gunshot might have escalated into a big bloodbath.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Thailand of starting the shooting, and Thailand in turn accused Cambodia of starting it. Thus, there is claim against claim in this incident. As every good court trial shows, the right way to handle this is calmly, with collection and consideration of facts. That can provide a basis for discussion, a genuine effort to understand the other person’s point of view, and finding ways to reduce the tension.

Reports about the meeting this week between high representatives of the Cambodian government with the visiting Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs are conflicting and frightening: on the one hand a timetable for the next round of formal negotiations was announced – yet on the other hand the Cambodian side immediately afterward issued an ultimatum that there would be armed conflict if Thai troops were not withdrawn swiftly from a disputed piece of land – some areas that have been claimed since a long time by both countries, and which both governments have to mutually agree upon as a topic in future negotiations. It is surprising that the Cambodian side is now reacting so strongly in relation to the “buffer zones on the northern and western areas of the temple,” set aside “at this stage,” in the June Joint Communique.

Cambodia has worked very hard to become a member of ASEAN and has played an important role in many aspects of ASEAN’s work. On Thursday, we mirrored a report that the Prime Minister had agreed to chair an Asian program “Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace,” which brings together persons who have been honored for their contribution to peace in the world. Such personalities will visit different countries in Asia and, through a series of meetings at universities, share their dedication to developing a culture of peace.

It was reported that the Prime Minister “welcomed and absolutely supported the program organized by the International Peace Foundation, and accepted the request for him to chair the program in Cambodia, ‘to connect with persons in the ASEAN countries with persons who are recipients of World Peace Medals.”

We all know the tremendous sufferings and loss of life which result from using the shortcut of force, instead of working through dialogue and acting in the spirit of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia to which ASEAN member countries agreed. To use force instead of negotiations on the current issue of disputed land – negotiations which have already been scheduled through mutual agreement – would also contradict international norms of settling bilateral issues through peaceful means, as the member countries of the United Nations have committed themselves. And to use force when negotiation is still possible ignores the bitter lessons of the many years of war in Cambodia’s history.

If the choice is war or peace, the choice can only be peace.

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Monday, 13.10.2008: US Chargé d’Affairs Encourages the Cambodian Government to Create Laws to Control Income from Oil and to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law

Posted on 14 October 2008. Filed under: Week 582 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 582

“A US high-ranking diplomatic official in Cambodia expressed concern over the absence of laws to control income from natural gas and of oil in the gulf of Cambodia, for which the government cooperates with a US company. This US diplomat voiced also concerns that Cambodia does not have anti-corruption legislation according to international standards.

“Ms. Piper Campbell, the US Chargé d’Affairs to Cambodia talked to journalists on 12 October 2008, while leading a delegation to visit the third navy vessel of the Untied States which moors in the sea of Cambodia at Sihanoukville, that there is cooperation to explore natural gas and oil with a US company in the gulf of Cambodia. The US government is a country which strongly demands that proper anti-corruption laws should be adopted.

“While the US oil company Chevron comes to invest millions of dollars in Cambodia, this makes the US government worry about the absence of some laws in Cambodia, like anti-corruption laws and laws to control income from the oil industry.

“Ms. Piper Campbell, the US Chargé d’Affairs to Cambodia, added that in the future, there will be a meeting between donor countries and Cambodia, and she will reaffirm the demand for the adoption of anti-corruption legislation. At the same time, donor countries will demand that Cambodia should have proper laws with transparency to control the income from oil.

“Ms. Piper Campbell went on to say that the Cambodian Government does not need to wait for the income from the exploitation of oil and gas, before creating related laws, but those laws must be developed from now on in order to control and encourage Cambodia to become a rule-of-law country and to have effective measures to help develop the national economy through the creation of adequate legislation.

“Ms. Piper Campbell affirmed that the US government had checked each paragraph of the drafts for an anti-corruption law carefully. It would be better if donor countries were allowed to jointly consider the drafts of anti-corruption legislation, so that they could provide ideas for points that they might consider useful or not useful for such draft laws, and it is fundamental that the Cambodian government cares so that the adoption of the anti-corruption law moves ahead.

“Ms. Piper Campbell expects that the anti-corruption draft law will be discussed and adopted by the National Assembly soon, and then will be put into practice. She added that even when an anti-corruption law will have been adopted by the National Assembly, it is necessary that proper legislation monitoring systems will efficiently monitor the law enforcement.

“The US Chargé d’Affairs to Cambodia pointed out that the US government, like other donor countries to Cambodia, is waiting for the adoption of legislation to control income from oil exploitation in the gulf of Cambodia as well as an anti-corruption law. She said that everyone knows the serious impact of corruption, that is why they want to see an anti-corruption law and other laws adopted, because corruption blocks the national economic development.

“As for the exploration to exploit oil, for which the Cambodian government cooperates with the US Chevron company, Mr. Joseph Mussomeli, a former US Ambassador to Cambodia, had voiced his concern over the oil exploitation, and he had encouraged the creation of laws to control the income from natural gas and oil, and he had demanded that the Cambodian government adopts an anti-corruption law that follows international standards.

“The strongman, Hun Sen, the Khmer Prime Minister, had promised the international community, that is the donor countries of Cambodia, to send the draft of an anti-corruption law to the National Assembly to be adopted. However, since more than ten years already, such anti-corruption legislation has not yet been seen. Recently, Hun Sen has again promised to send an anti-corruption draft law to the fourth term National Assembly to be adopted soon, after the adoption of criminal procedures by the National Assembly, because some articles of the anti-corruption law relate to these criminal procedures.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3586, 13.10.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 13 October 2008

Amnach Reas, Vol.1, #25, 13-19.10.2008

  • The Growth of the Garment Industry Motivates Children of Poor Citizens to Drop out from School [in order to become workers to support the family income]
  • Residents at the Dey Krahom Region [at the Building Block area] Demand Market Prices [for the land where they live, for leaving the area – Phnom Penh]
  • The National Road 6 in Kompong Cham Starts to Break up [because of overloaded trucks and heavy rain]
  • Permanent Sand Dredging by Vendors Is Dangerous for People Living along the River [because the river bank might break in]

Deum Tnot, Vol.1, #40, 13-14.10.2008

  • Led by the Leaders of the Cambodian Government during the Third Term, 152 Millionaires Were Given the Title of Oknha [this title is awarded to persons who have made a high donation considered to be in the public interest]
  • The Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia – FTUWKC –Asks the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training to Help Intervene with Factories and Enterprises to Allow Time for Workers to Get their Khmer National Identification Documents Made

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6471, 13.10.2008

  • In the Period of Three Quarters in 2008, There Were 211 Rape and Debauchery Cases, and 244 Victims [132 victims, corresponding to 59%, were underage children, and 18 victims were killed – according to ECPAT Cambodia]
  • Information about Border Disputes with Siam [Thailand] Increases the Number of News Readers; a Reader: “I Spend Riel 1,200 per Day for a Newspaper to Observe the News”
  • The United States Removed North Korea from Their Black List of Countries Supporting Terrorism

Mate Neak, Vol.1, #8, 13-19.10.2008

  • The United States and England Asked Siam to Follow Agreements with Cambodia [according to the text, they asked both countries – Cambodia and Thailand – to cooperate]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3586, 13.10.2008

  • US Chargé d’Affairs Encourages the Cambodian Government to Create Laws to Control Income from Oil and to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law
  • The Residents Disagree to Leave the Boeng Kak Region, and the Phnom Penh Authorities Accused Non-Government Organizations to Provoke the Protests
  • Prince Sirivudh [advisor to the King] Will Make a Press Conference This Morning to Clarify His New Position about Entering or Not Entering Politics for Members of the Royal Family [at the Le Royal Hotel]
  • World Economic Crisis Might Affect Aid for Cambodia [which receives more than US$600 million every year]

Sokreth, Vol.1, #1, 9-15.10.2008

  • Politics Is What Youth Do Not Want to Think about [because they are afraid of it]

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