Comparing Notes and Actions – Sunday, 26.7.2009

Posted on 27 July 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 622 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 622

Shared and received information should elicit some kind of reaction. Reactions can have quite different forms – from a harsh public rebuff to silent reflection. If there were no reactions at all, the sharing of information would probably have to be considered to be useless.

The fact that the Mirror has been visited, since November 2008, at least 6,000 times per month, even up to 8,700 times in one month, is an encouraging sign that there are many readers who come back again. We would be happy, of course, if more readers would also respond to the Support the Mirror appeal in the right upper corner on the first page of every Mirror, and would click on the button:

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When facing the flood of news items in the Khmer press every day, and selecting some for translation and mirroring, there is always a process of reflections and looking for connections and comparisons and relations involved. But even when we put some news items together – like we do in today’s following text – such pairing might trigger the reflection: What if these different elements would be made to enter into some deeper interaction? What would this mean for Cambodian society?

It is up to our readers. Some readers may again use the Make a Comment box at the end of every page, and the result will show up under Recent Comments in the rightmost column of the Mirror page. Such sharing of observations and opinion may invite other reader to respond with different comments, linking ideas and persons in an exchange of opinion. Publishing on the Internet has made such participation much easier than the traditional Letters to the Editor, which are an important place where personal opinion is shared and public opinion is formed in many newspapers.

Some of the past week’s notes follow.


European Parliament Representative Will Come to Observe Ms. Mu Sochua’s Court Hearing

It did not happen, as far as we know – maybe not yet?

But why did people in the far away European Parliament even consider this? It had been explained that the trade and cooperation agreements between the European Union and its partners – the basis also for the Cambodian garment exports to Europe – deal in their first article with “respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights” which are to “inspire the internal and international policies of the European Union and Cambodia” and which “constitute an essential element of the agreement.”


After the return of the Prime Minister from his official visit to France, it was reported: “Mr. Prak Sokhon [a secretary of state who had been a member of the delegation] said that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen asked France to continue granting aid like during more than 10 years in the past. Also, he asked France to continue… to assist the health sector, the educational sector, and other sectors.” And the French President promised it. Of course he does now decide this alone – he has to propose it to the French parliament and to academic institutions, which decide what actually can be realized. The framework within which the governments can act is set by the parliaments, and the parliaments watch over the implementation.

It is assumed that the Cambodian National Assembly works in a similar way, when it comes to public financial resources.

Article 57 of the Constitution says: “…The national budget shall be determined by law.”

Article 90: “The National Assembly is the only an organ which has legislative power, and performs its duties as provided for in the constitution and laws. This power shall not be transferable to any other organ or individual. The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, state planning, loans…”

Also in Cambodia it is the National Assembly which has the ultimate responsibility for the handling of financial affairs of the state according to the established laws and regulations. It is no surprise that it is similar for the European Union and the European parliament.


The Mirror had also reported: “Twenty Days after Visiting Cambodia, [the Thai Deputy Prime Minister and parliamentarian] Suthep Thaugsuban Lost His Parliamentary Seat [he resigned from parliament, but retains his position as a vice-minister – in this way he hopes to avoid the ruling of the Thai Election Committee, accusing him of having been involved in stock exchange trading – which is unconstitutional for parliamentarians]

Any surprise? Probably not in Thailand according to Thai law.

Article 120 of the Cambodia Constitution also says: “The functions of members of the Royal Government shall be incompatible with professional activities in trade or industry and with the holding of any position in the public service.” These Cambodian regulations are similar for “members of the Royal Government” in Cambodia, excluding them from “professional activities in trade or industry.” It may be not so clear to the public to which level of members of the government this applies – from senior ministers to under-secretaries of state? – and which range of professional activities are covered? Surely an important field, the more Cambodian trade and industries develop – from the newly created national airline to the increasing activities in the oil and other natural resources extracting industries.


When it comes to the interpretation of the workings of a “multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law” – as described in the Preamble of the Constitution – there is obviously a wide gap between different assumptions. The president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, Mr. Moeung Sonn, considered it as his civic duty to ask critical questions about the fairly massive deployment of electrical equipment at the symbol of Khmer culture and World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. He obviously did not forsee that his opinion would be considered as leading to public disturbance, so that he and others who shared this opinion – like Rasmei Kampuchea – might have to face the court; concerned that he might even have to go to prison, he went abroad.

In the previous week, we had also mirrored a voice from civil society, asking: If Those with a Role to Promote and Protect Culture Cannot Express Their Concerns about Culture, Who then Has the Rights to Do So?


That those who are accused need to be protected, while a court clarifies if the accusation stands rightly or not, is supported by a financial grant from France, after the French President had promised to the Cambodian Prime Minister that France would support developments in Cambodia. “France Provided US$126,000 Financing to the Association of Lawyers without Borders to Defend Plaintiffs at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.” Though this is not part of the expected larger assistance expected from France, it is a donation in line with the historical commitment of France for justice – a commitment which was in the mainstream of the French revolution.


Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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