The Rich and the Powerful Are Using the Court Systems against the Poor in Land Disputes – Wednesday, 17.12.2008

Posted on 18 December 2008. Filed under: Week 591 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 591

“The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – announced that in 2008, 146 villagers countrywide have been accused of criminal offenses regarding land disputes with the rich and the powerful in the country. Among them, 50 are detained unjustly by provincial and municipal courts, and 91 others escaped from the authorities.
“The president of ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray, said that since early 2008 until nearly the end of the year, accusations by courts against villagers involved in land disputes increased significantly after the forth term elections on 27 July 2008, where the Cambodian People’s Party won 90 [of the 123] seats of the National Assembly. He described that the court activities are like a system to commit more serious corruption, as the courts decide on such cases following orders from the rich and the powerful.
“Mr. Thun Saray added, ‘The arrest of villagers not just happens in one place, but it happens almost in every province and city, and such accusation seem to be a system organized by the rich and the powerful. The court system is used by the rich and the powerful in order to press all citizens who are involved in land disputes with high ranking officials or with the rich.’
“He went on to say that many citizens involved in land disputes had been released by different courts, when they agreed to leave the land that is the object of a dispute with the rich and with high ranking officials. The use of all courts is a system of the rich and of the powerful, which is like a new system making us all to have more worries.
“The president of LICADHO, Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], said that when villagers agree to give thumbprints [as their ‘signature’] to abandon the land under dispute with high ranking officials and with the rich, they would be released by the courts. Courts never hold hearings on land disputes for citizens fairly and justly; the poor always lose their cases. She accused the Khmer courts of rarely deciding for the poor to win their cases, and she promised that a motion with the signatures of thousands of citizens, demanding to halt the detention of villagers involved in land disputes, will be sent to King Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni and to Prime Minister Hun Sen soon.
“Asked about corruption and the courts’ bias towards the rich and the powerful in land disputes, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said that it is normal that land disputes be settled by courts. He added, ‘We are a democratic country, so we use the law to solve different disputes in the courts. Therefore, solving land disputes in the courts is not against democracy. But if we find that a count really shows bias towards the rich and the powerful, that court will be punished according to the law.’
“However, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and a member of the National Council for Solving Land Disputes, Mr. Nuth Sa An, agreed that the courts are really used to press the poor. He continued to say that he intervened some cases to release villagers, because he found that courts showed bias towards the rich and the powerful. Nonetheless, if any villager provokes protests over land disputes, they will be arrested.
“At present, land disputes are spreading around Cambodia, and they are mostly between the rich and the powerful – and poor villagers in cities and in remote areas of some provinces such as Battambang, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Kompong Speu, Kampot, Kandal, and Kompong Chhnang.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3641, 17.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #98, 17-18.12.2008

  • Cambodia Hopes that the New Thai Prime Minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva – อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ] Will Continue to Solve the Border Dispute Based on the Results of Previous Negotiations [said Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1822, 17.12.2008

  • Malaysia Announced that It No Longer Requires Foreign Workers [because of an increase of unemployment], but Cambodia Has Not Received Any Notice
  • Signs Are Put up [at Boeng Choeung Ek and Boeng Tompun lakes] to Prohibit the Digging and Removing of Soil from the Lakes [Phnom Penh]
  • [Thousands of] Iraqi Citizens Rally to Demand the Release of a Reporter Who Threw His Shoes at Mr. Bush [in Baghdad]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #305, 17.12.2008

  • Corruption at the Department of Education of Prey Veng Disclosed [teachers accused leaders of the department of cutting teachers’ salaries and of releasing the salaries late]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6527, 17.12.2008

  • Vendors Warn They Will Burn [their second hand clothes merchandise and break the border barriers] if Police Blocks Vendors and Cart Draggers from Crossing into Thailand [Poipet – controversies about paying border crossing fees]
  • Cholera in Zimbabwe Killed Nearly 1,000 People

 Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3641, 17.12.2008

  • The Rich and the Powerful Are Using the Court Systems against the Poor in Land Disputes
  • Analysts Criticize that Chinese Aid Is a Strategy for Political and Economic Benefit

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4770, 17.12.2008

  • A Khmer [artist] in the United States of America Draws Erotic Pictures of Apsaras and Publishes Them on a Website []
  • Obama Chooses Chinese-American Physics Nobel Prize Winner [Steven Chu] as US Secretary of Energy


From the autobiography of Steve Chu – and the role of education and thinking in clear, logical steps:

“My father, Ju Chin Chu, came to the United States in 1943 to continue his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in chemical engineering, and two years later, my mother, Ching Chen Li, joined him to study economics.

“When my parents married in 1945, China was in turmoil and the possibility of returning grew increasingly remote, and they decided to begin their family in the United States.

“Education in my family was not merely emphasized, it was our raison d’être. Virtually all of our aunts and uncles had Ph.D.’s in science or engineering, and it was taken for granted that the next generation of Chu’s were to follow the family tradition. When the dust had settled, my two brothers and four cousins collected three MDs, four Ph.D.s and a law degree. I could manage only a single advanced degree.

“I approached the bulk of my schoolwork as a chore rather than an intellectual adventure. The tedium was relieved by a few courses that seem to be qualitatively different. Geometry was the first exciting course I remember. Instead of memorizing facts, we were asked to think in clear, logical steps.”


The Khmer artist Reahu describes his work, intentions, and criticism received, like this:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“According to the Sanskrit epic poem, the Mahabharata, the gods decided to mix up a batch of soma, the elixir of immortality. The gods were to drink the elixir to become immortal. The asura Reahu, disguised himself as a god and drank some of the elixir. Soriya (the sun) and Chantra (the moon) spotted the imposter, Reahu, and told Vishnu. Just as Reahu was swallowing the soma, Vishnu sliced off his head with a sword. Since the soma had passed into the throat the head had already become immortal and remained alive. Because Soriya and Chantra were responsible for reporting the misdeeds of Reahu, the head, chases them across the sky and tries to eat them. Occasionally he catches and swallows one of them, causing an eclipse. But the victim quickly falls out of Reahu’s throat and the eclipse ends. Many still believe that banging on drums or utensils during the eclipse helps to scare Reahu into releasing the Sun or Moon.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“Things in a person’s life can have meaning (importance), but a meaning of life itself, i.e., apart from those things, can’t be discerned. In this context, a person’s life is said to have meaning (significance to himself and others) in the form of the events throughout his life and the results of his life in terms of achievements, a legacy, family, etc. But to say that life itself has meaning is a misuse of language, since any note of significance or consequence is relevant only in life (to those living it), rendering the statement erroneous.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a nondual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life. — Reahu

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st Century. Please be open-minded, you must be able to see beyond the four walls surrounding your hut. So please! My prohook eating brothers and sisters this is art, one man’s point of view captured on canvas: An admiration of Apsaras as celestial beings. If this brings down the Khmer culture, then your Khmer culture is still under the Khmer Rouge. So, I take the pleasure of deleting them.”

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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