Week 548

Week 548 – 2008-02-24: The Value of Human Lives

Posted on 25 February 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 548 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

Observing the news – be it in the printed press or on the radio and on TV – we see every day that the value of human life is very differently for different people. Every day we get new counts from Iraq or from Afghanistan – like the report from 19.2.2008 which is not different from many other days – that a suicide bombing had killed 80 people. Some day less, some day more. It is almost routine. Then there are the killings by the different military units trying to stop such killings. It is an almost endless circle – in far away places.

Then we are reminded, by the reports from the ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal, that there is an effort to get at least some more clarity, if not justice, about the years 1975 to 1979 in the country, when 1.7 million human person, or more than 2 million, or much less than 1.5 million, violently were made to lose their lives in Cambodia. But two persons, who were supposedly much involved or even responsible – the court is to clarify this – the “Brother Number Two” and the Head of State during most of that time, claim not to have known much about these events. Will we really get to know much more about these events and the motivation behind the killings and the killers – all from a far away past?

But human lives have also been lost closer by. Sam Bith, a former Khmer Rouge commander’s life came to an end during the week after a long sickness. It has always been a mystery, that while the majority of the press reports over the years focused on the death of the three foreigners who were killed after an attack on the train by a Khmer Rouge unit, the lives of ten Cambodians killed in the same attack are – like in the report we mirrored – not even mentioned.

They ordered their subordinates to attack the train almost every day, and finally to kill the three foreigners.

Every week brings us reports about people who are threatened, or even killed violently. And there is often not much reported what happened later.

  • A police official of the Anti-Terrorist Department was tied and shot, to steal some valuables
  • A journalist was threatened to be shot because he exposed what he thought to be illegal business in wood
  • 50 young people fought against each other in Battambang with axes and knives – 2 were killed, and 3 were wounded
  • A man entered a house and stabbed a housemaid – he was beaten dead

We could collect such or similar lists almost every week. There are surely other countries with similar records. But does this mean, that others have similar problems, that the question of justice, and change in the course of a society, cannot be raised?

During the week the public in Phnom Penh could witness an act difficult to interpret: the authorities erected a table to commemorate the Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi – who was at the same time a spiritual leader. He had put together a list of seven sins which destroy a society. And in his own life he was practically committed to live observing these warnings. How would the life of society change, if Gandhi’s warnings would be observed.

  • “Wealth without work” – is the description of wealth without work not a condemnation of a system, where wealth creates more wealth, and the poor, how much they work, in their great majority never can achieve wealth?
  • “Pleasure without conscience” – is the large number of women who work for their livelihood to give pleasure to men not an indicator that those who have enough wealth to pay for their pleasure lack conscience?
  • “Knowledge without character” – is there not reason to question the kind of knowledge obtained in higher education, when the many reports of gang rape mostly identify the groups of males involved as university students?
  • “Commerce without morality” – why did Transparency International, making surveys in many countries according to the same method, find that only only Cameroon, in the whole world, has a higher incidence of corruption than Cambodia? And also, that more Cambodians paid bribes than were asked to pay bribes? How can corporate accountability grow in such an environment?
  • “Science without humanity” – in which ways do the many educational institutions in the country orient their students not only to build up objective understanding to think scientifically, that is also, to think independently of powerful interests and independently of emotions, but to orient their thinking towards the best of humanity, and not only to the best of their own economic interest, or to the advantage of their own interest as Cambodians in an international context of a wider humanity of many different peoples?
  • “Worship without sacrifice” – how many public ceremonies, to which monks are invited to lead in religious acts, are more than a cultural decoration?
  • “Politics without principle” – the public will observe in which way the erection of the table with Gandhi’s words leads to principled action.

While considering these challenges from India, two new reports came in from India. On 23 February 2008, the President of India, Madame Pratibha Patil, addressed, a seminar on judicial reforms, organized by the Confederation of the Indian Bar – of associations of lawyers and judges. She said, among others:

  • “With a lot of pride, we may recall that the Bar was not only in the forefront of the freedom struggle but later made invaluable contributions in envisioning our Constitution. Those legal stalwarts included Mahatma Gandhi, … Pandit Nehru,… to name only a few… I am confident that the distilled wisdom emerging from the thought-provoking deliberations of the trained legal minds would provide a clear direction in outlining a creative roadmap for comprehensive judicial reforms towards a more sensitive and responsive judiciary.
  • Our freedom struggle culminated in the victory for the Rule of Law, for the values of equality, for wholesome life with dignity and justice.
    The care, diligence and empathy with which the judiciary protects even a lone individual who has truth on his side invests the judiciary with a superior purpose and a higher moral authority. It is this progressive and humanitarian role of our judiciary and the judicial caliber that has earned international acclaim…
  • Time has come when we as stakeholders, without being unduly touchy and sensitive to criticism, have to collectively introspect the causes of the ills of judicial administration and find solutions squarely.”
  • On the next day, on 24 February 2008, it was seen that such words were not words alone, as the law is only as useful as it is applied and enforced. Seven people have been arrested and four policemen were suspended in India’s Bihar state, after a mob had dragged a murder suspect from police custody and had beaten him until he was unconscious. On TV, at least one policeman could be seen standing by, as the murder suspect was taken out from police custody by an angry mob.

    The President of India declared: “The realm of judicial administration is not without its own share of inadequacies and blemishes… Something needs to be done to prevent ordinary citizens taking the law into their own hands.”

    In Cambodia, some members of the police, of the armed forces, and sometimes crowds of people, act as if they were entitled to enact the law with lethal force, or even to be above the law. Maybe new developments will only set in, when persons of high authority in the state speak with similar immediate clarity, leading to publicly visible legal action. The setting up of the table with Gandhi’s words could be such a starting point.

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    Saturday, 23.2.2008: Armed Force Use Violence, Machinery, and Teargas to Evict Citizens of Bonla S’et Village Out of Their Residences

    Posted on 24 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    “About ten citizens suffered from violence and injuries, and were arrested in the morning of 22 February 2008 when they were resisting the implementation of the order of the Supreme Court which had decided to evict them out of their residences located on more than one hectare of land in Bonla S’et village, Khmuonh commune, Russey Keo, Phnom Penh.

    “The citizens, who faced violence at gun-point from hundreds of police forces, were evicted on the morning of 22 February 2008 by the armed forces who used two excavators to bulldoze the 23 houses of the citizens of 23 families residing in the location since 1993. In 2005, Chhin Vibol had lodged a complaint to the court in this case, alleging that the citizens lived on his land. The citizens lost the case at the court continuously and also lost at the Supreme Court; therefore, people were evicted out of their residences on 22 February 2008.

    “Victims of the violence said that armed forces and police were led by Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea, Deputy Prosecutor of the Court of the Phnom Penh municipality, and by Russey Keo Deputy Governor Keut Chae. The victims said that the authorities used 10 machine guns and 2 excavators to evict the citizens out of their houses. After they refused to leave, police shot a gun up into the air to threaten the people, and they shot 27 teargas-bombs towards the citizens. Police also threw bottles of gasoline into their houses; then two excavators were immediately used to bulldoze the houses of the citizens. These measures of the police spurred the anger of the citizens.

    “Mr. Chan Soveth, an investigating official of the local human rights group ADHOC and officials of the Human Rights Action Committee, who went to observe the situation of Bonla S’et village, said that more than ten citizens suffered from being violently beaten by police. Some citizens were hand-cuffed and immediately pushed into a waiting vehicle.

    “Mr. Chan Soveth said that the ten people arrested by the authorities on the morning of 22 February 2008 include:

    1-Keo Nel, male, 50, who suffered head and body injures
    2-Saem Sum, male, 55, was severely injured
    3-Paeng Sam Ang, male, 40, was severely injured
    4-Paeng Sam An, male, 45, was injured
    5-Meoung Smy, male, was injured
    6-Meoung Path, male, was injured
    7-Mann, male, was injured
    8-Seoung, male, was injured
    9-Uk Savin, female, 30, was arrested and released
    10-Long Srey, 42, was arrested and released

    “Mr. Chan Soveth condemned and criticized the use of violence by the armed police force led by the Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea, the Russey Keo District Governor Keut Chae, and the Four-Star General Peng Vannak, who is the deputy director of Light Penal Crime Department in Phnom Penh, for causing bloody wounds on citizens. He also condemned the serious violation of human rights. Civil society organizations cannot accept such solutions.

    “Mr. Chan Soveth said that civil society organizations are greatly disappointed when seeing that the authorities caused serious injuries, arrested citizens, and destroyed the property of these people. Such activities are serious violations of human rights, adding that the authorities did not respect the law.

    “Phuong Pha, female, 51, who suffered head injures, said that policed had stoned her and kicked her. She added that police did not only beat, but also arrest people. She continued that people were not even given time to collect their properties from their houses.

    “Phuong Pha said that the government did not help to protect the legal position of the citizens. All of these citizens’ families are formerly from the military, and they came to live on this location since 1993. The court decided that Chin Vibol won the case, as they secretly handled the ownership titles of the land that these citizens were living on. The court did not conduct a thorough investigations, but it based its decision on false documents.

    “Another victim, Sek Seoun, female, 37, said that she lost her hope and did not know where she should go to live, because she lost her house, her properties, and the land that she has tried to secure for many years. All her properties were destroyed by the police at the blink of an eye. The same victim requested that civil society organizations help to seek justice for her and other victims because the Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea led the armed forces that carried out the order of the court, which caused bloodshed of some citizens, and the destruction of their houses. These people were given only one day before police come to evict them.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3395, 23-24.2.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Saturday, 23 February 2008


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1575, 23.2.2008

    • Eleven Funcinpec Resistance Members Will Go to Meet Samdech Euv [former King] in Beijing [24-29 February]
    • US Provides Mosquito Nets to Citizens in Koh Kong District [Koh Kong]
    • Party of [Murdered] Ms. Bhutto and Party of Mr. Nawaz Sharif Will Create a Coalition Government


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6279, 23-24.2.2008

    • Cambodia Does Not Lack Respectable People; Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Encourages Further Construction of Statues of Famous Khmer Scholars
    • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Tells Ministry of Economy and Finance to Check Allowances [to be of benefit] for Wives and Children [allowances to be increased]
    • Paññasastra University and Troy University from America Cooperate with Each Other

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3395, 23-24.2.2008

    • Armed Force Use Violence, Machinery, and Teargas to Evict Citizens of Bonla S’et Village Out of Their Residences
    • Big International Non-Government Organizations Criticize Human Rights Violations in Cambodia
    • Allowances for Public Servants’ Wives and Children Are Considered to Be Increased Only Now When Elections Approach
    • Diplomats: Ruling Party Starts to Fear Sam Rainsy Party [over its popularity for the 2008 elections]
    • Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of Sam Rainsy Party] Criticizes Cambodian People’s Party for Not Respecting Political Ethics [by buying Sam Rainsy Party officials’ feelings with money and positions]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4523, 23.2.2008

    • Japanese Investment in Cambodia Is at 0.2% [among all investments in Cambodia – notices Senior Minister Sok An]
    • Human Rights Party Declares to Hold Extraordinary Congress to Select Prime Ministerial Candidate [on 27 February]
    • A Man Entered a House and Stabbed a Housemaid All over Her Body; He Was Beaten Dead by the House Owners [who say he was a robber, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh]
    • Washington Hotel Has Operated Karaoke Parlors for Nearly Four Years without License [along National Road 6A – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]


    Sakal, Vol.15, #3186, 28.2.2008

    • Cambodia and Thailand Will Discuss Issue of Preah Vihear Temple in Late February


    Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #628, 23.2.2008

    • Son Chhay [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: Hun Sen Vows to Continue to Abuse the Constitution [by continuing to appoint his personal advisors]

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    Friday, 22.2.2008: Spanish Queen Sofía Pays a Visit to the National Institute of Education

    Posted on 23 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    Spanish Queen at National Institute for Education

    “During her visit to Cambodia, Queen Sofía of the Kingdom of Spain paid a visit to the National Institute of Education on the morning of 20 February 2008, visiting the workplace of the Open Schools Program, using communication and information technology, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the [Cambodian non-government organization] Open Institute, with support from the Spanish International Coopertion Agency for Development [Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo] for the Khmer Software Initiative KhmerOS.

    “Mr. Kol Pheng, the Senior Minister and Minister of Education, who was present to welcome the Spanish Queen Sofía, explained that with the support from the Spanish International Coopertion Agency for Development and the Khmer Software Initiative KhmerOS, the Ministry of Education initiated the Open Schools Program, making free [Open Source] computer programs in the Khmer language available, for word processing, for Internet use including blogging, and many other computer programs. Currently, these programs are being introduced in all Teachers’ Training Colleges and in all high schools [that have computers] in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

    “The Senior Minister also stated that the Ministry of Education considers that the wide utilization of technology is a crucial element for the development of Cambodia, and this becomes possible as this technology can now be used in the national language. Moreover, the Ministry also considers that this system of education provides a vehicle for disseminating technological knowledge to people across the whole country at high speed.

    “At this occasion, Mr. Kol Pheng presented to the Queen also an example of original ancient Khmer text inscribed on palm leaves.

    “During the tour, Queen Sofía expressed her interest and her appreciation for the good cooperation, which had let also to the creation of a computer laboratory for low cost computers for the sector of education, something which before did not existe in Cambodia. She also talked to students of communication and information technology. These communication and information technology projects are promoted by the Khmer Software Initiative KhmerOS for the Open Schools Program, supported by the Spanish Coopertion Agency for Development, by UNECO, and by InWEnt [Capacity Building International Germany].” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vo.16. #4521, 21.2.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Thursday, 21 February 2008


    Chakraval, Vol.16, #46, 22.2.2008

    • Lawyer [Ang Tony Pa] Accused of Deceiving $150,000 [from a Chinese national in exchange for preparing papers to obtain Cambodian nationality – Phnom Penh]


    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #49, 22.2.2008

    • Siamese [Thai] Boats Enter to Fish in Khmer Waters; They Are Not Suppressed by Any Authority [Koh Kong]


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1574, 22.2.2008

    • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] Still Declares to Continue to Appoint Defectors [from other parties, despite request by opposition officials to stop such appointments as government advisors]
    • Korean Christians Distributes Rice Gifts to 500 Poor Families in Sihanoukville
    • Prohibition of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader – from standing as a candidate because she has been married to a foreigner] Destroys Hope in Elections in Myanmar
    • International Community Observes Changes in Cuba after Castro


    Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #559, 22.2.2008

    • Eight Human Rights Organizations [the Committee Restrict Laws Enforcement for Human Rights in Cambodia including CNRO, ADVD, HROTP, KERD, KSPC, COLT, VOCRID, and WHC – not well known organizations] Ask the King to Give Amnesty for Samdech Krom Preah So He Can Participates in Elections
    • Hearings of [former] Khmer Rouge Leaders Are Planned to Be Held between April and July in Time for Cambodian People’s Party to Conduct Election Campaigns


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #115, 22.2.2008

    • Transparency International: Corruption Exists Most in Courts and Police Institutions [in Cambodia]
    • Son Chhay [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Phnom]: Win-Win Policy Makes It Difficult for Me to Breathe


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6278, 22.2.2008

    • Japan Provides Aid of Nearly $3 Million for the Upcoming Elections
    • France Seeks Tourist Cooperation in Cambodia


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3394, 22.2.2008

    • Concern over Influence of Chinese Economy and Politics on Cambodia


    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1282, 22.2.2008

    • Statues of Patriarch Chuon Nath [put in Hun Sen Park] and Statue of Preah Phirum Phiasa Euv Inaugurated [better known as Krom Ngoy who is considered as the father of Khmer poetry – put in the park opposite Cambodiana Hotel]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vo.16. #4521, 21.2.2008

    • Spanish Queen Sofía Pays a Visit to the National Institute of Education


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4522, 22.2.2008

    • Prime Minister Declares to Provide Positions to All Members of Sam Rainsy Party Steering Committee Who Join Government
      [Khmer Republic] Party of [Khmer Republic President] Lon Nol’s Son [Lon Rith] Appears [his party starts its activities]


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3254, 22.2.2008

    • 90% of Khmer Women, Who Got Married to Taiwan, Fall in Sex Exploitation


    Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #627, 22.2.2008

    • Corruption in Cambodia Is Highest in Asia

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    Thursday, 21.2.2008: National Holiday: Meak Bochea Day

    Posted on 22 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    Gandhi’s “Seven Sins” Table

    Meak Bochea Day commemorates the spontaneous gathering of monks to listen to the Buddha’s preaching.

    Is it a sheer coincidence that on 18 February 2008, a memorial tablet with the list of Seven Sins which destroy a society, composed by Mahatma Gandhi, was officially inaugurated in Phnom Penh?

    The Seven Sins list states:

    1. Politics without principle.
    2. Wealth without work.
    3. Pleasure without conscience.
    4. Knowledge without character.
    5. Commerce without morality.
    6. Science without humanity.
    7. Worship without sacrifice.

    Are these words, put up for the public by the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the head of the administration of the Capital City of Phnom Penh, going to usher in a new era of social and personal ethics in Cambodia?

    Have a look at last week’s editorial which had been delayed

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    Wednesday, 20.2.2008: The Inauguration Ceremony of a Memorial Tablet with the Seven Sins List of Mahatma Gandhi

    Posted on 21 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 |

    Gandhi’s “Seven Sins”

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    “On 18 February 2008, the governor of the Phnom Penh municipality, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema, presided over the inauguration ceremony of a memorial tablet with a list of the Seven Sins of the Indian statesman Mahatma Gandhi, with the participation of an Indian minister as well as the ambassador of the Republic of India. Local and international visitors also participated in the ceremony.

    “The Seven Sins list states:

    1. Politics without principle.
    2. Wealth without work.
    3. Pleasure without conscience.
    4. Knowledge without character.
    5. Commerce without morality.
    6. Science without humanity.
    7. Worship without sacrifice.

    “The Indian Union Water Resources Minister Mr. Saifuddin Soz, who participated in the ceremony, said that Phnom Penh is growing in almost all sectors under the leadership of the governor of the Phnom Penh municipality, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema.

    “The Indian minister continued that Mahatma [“the Great Soul”] is the father of independence and of peace for India, and the preacher of non-violence. India and Cambodia comply with this message in order to make the whole country peaceful and non-violent.

    The governor of the Phnom Penh municipality, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema, said that the memorial tablet with the Seven Sins list of the Indian statesman and father of world peace, Mahatma Gandhi, is set up in the Dragon Park in Phnom Penh, next to his statue.

    The memorial tablet with the Seven Sins list, engraved in gold script on a 0.80 by 1.50 meters marble stone, and adorned with an Angkorian base, was constructed by the Phnom Penh municipality under the direction of Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia. This statue is set up in Phnom Penh as a symbol for the whole nation, as all people must unite together in a peaceful and non-violent manner. It is also to serve as a solemn emblem of the bond of friendship between Cambodia and India.

    At this occasion, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude for the invaluable heroism of Mahatma Gandhi, saying that he is not only the father of peace for India but he is also the father of peace for the world. This list will eternally touch the hearts of all Cambodians to stick to non-violence in the course of building and protecting the nation.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1571, 19.2.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 20 February 2008


    Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #57, 20-26.2.2008

    • People Still Suffer because the Sok Kong Company and the Phanimex Company Hold Papers Authorizing Them to Grab Land
    • The Head of the Asian Development Bank [Kuroda Haruhiko] Affirms that More Than US$1.1 Billion Development Money Has Been Provided by the Asian Development Bank to Cambodia


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1571, 19.2.2008

    • The Inauguration Ceremony of a Memorial Tablet with the Seven Sins List of Mahatma Gandhi


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1572, 20.2.2008

    • Cambodia and Vietnam Discuss Sites of [three] National Radio Stations [in Svay Rieng, Kampot, and Mondolkiri – donated by Vietnam]
    • [TV5 producer] Char Rithy Explained [on 19 February] Lawsuit of [Female] Singer Meng Keopechda by Saying ‘$1,000 for Singing One Song Is Too Expensive’


    Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #558, 20.2.2008

    • To Be Fair, the Ruling Party Should Not Use Money to Buy Voters’ Feelings


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6276, 20.2.2008

    • National Election Committee Announces Schedule for Registration of Parties and Candidates [from 28 April to 12 May]
    • French Experts Come to Do Research on Rubber Plantations in Cambodia


    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1281, 20.2.2008

    • Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]: Welcome, Krom Preah [Prince Ranariddh], to Join [the Sam Rainsy Party]


    Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #625, 20.2.2008

    • [President of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun Asks [Minister of Labor and Vocational Training] Vong Soth to Issue an Order for Owners of Karaoke Parlors to Respect the Labor Law

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    Tuesday, 19.2.2008: Asian Development Bank Is Putting Meat into the Tiger’s Mouth As Railway Is Being Repaired

    Posted on 20 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    “The Asian Development Bank [ADB] publicly announced in the morning of last Monday that it will contribute to rehabilitate a portion of the Khmer railway of around 652 kilometers from Banteay Meanchey to Phnom Penh with a grant of US$73 million, including a loan of US$43 million from the ADB. Some observers warned that with this huge amount of money, if there is no close and proper monitoring, this money is just a piece of meat that is thrown into the tigers’ mouth without serving the interests of the Khmer country and people.

    “According to Mr. Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, in the US$73 million package, the loan of the ADB is US$43 million, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties [OPEC] contributes US$13 million, the Malaysian government shares US$2.8 million, and the Cambodian government contributes US$15.2 million.

    “Mr. Kuroda Haruhiko, the president of the ADB, is proud of this project.

    “Referring to Mr. Sun Chanthol, a part of the railway from Svay Sisophon in Banteay Meanchey to Phnom Penh had been repaired one time in 1929. Based on the present project, the rehabilitated railway will be able to load from 15 to 20 tons, and the trains can run with a speed of 50 kilometers per hour.

    “The announcement of yesterday on the rehabilitation of the Khmer railway infrastructure is part of an agreement which was already approved by the ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting last year. It is a project which will lead to have the railways of ASEAN nations connected with each other.

    “According to Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol, who had joined the 13th ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore on 1-2 November 2007, with the grants of US$80 million from ADB and OPEC, Cambodia will begin the railway construction project of 48 kilometers, connecting Svay Sisophon with Poipet at the Siam-Khmer border, and from Siam [Thailand] the railway will continue to some other ASEAN countries, totaling around 5,000 kilometers, a project which was approved in 1995.

    “Mr. Sun Chanthol continued that Cambodia will also connect 257 kilometers of railway with Yuon [Vietnam], which will cost around US$500 million. The big package of US$80 million that Cambodia will receive from the ADB will, according to Mr. Sun Chanthol, be used only for connecting 48 kilometers of local railway from Serei Saophoan to Poipet, including the repair of the very old railway, which is more than 40 years old.

    “However, currently it is difficult to see any benefit from the railway supported by foreign loans. Quite to the contrary, the money flows to support family members’ lives of Mr. Sok An of the Council of Ministers.

    “The Cambodian Royal Railway is managed by Sokhom Pheakakvoan Muny, known to be a nephew of Minister Sok An of the Council of Ministers; until now there is no report about income from railway services.

    “There are two railway lines, one from Phnom Penh to Battambang, and another one from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, but there are no more crowds of people like before, when also goods were actively transported, but unfortunately, the benefits from the present services do not improve the railway staff’s living conditions, nor were they transparently shown. It was only seen that the general director of the Royal Railways quietly bought one more villa and changed to new cars.

    “This makes some staff and workers think that their daily work seems not to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the society and of themselves. It seems they are just working as slaves for Sokhom Pheakakvoan Muny.

    “The Royal Railway staff and workers’ past pain appeared visibly in strong protests. But because Sokhom Pheakakvoan Muny is a relative to Mr. Sok An, the Royal Railway staff’s protest is meaningless, and nobody can help them.

    “At this time the preparation to connect the railway with other countries in ASEAN seems like trying to carry water in a leaking jar, if the leader of the Cambodian Royal Railway does not change.

    “It is to be noted that today in Cambodia, there are many powerful men in the government who take advantage to use state properties to serve their own interests. Some leaders of the Public Works Department use state machinery, like trucks, to serve their own pockets, and Sokhom Pheakakvoan Muny takes advantage of the state’s train for his own benefit.

    “Many materials of the state, equipment that was bought by using the national budget, are used in a way that really destroys the nation, and this brings no benefit to the country.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #112, 19.2.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 19 February 2008


    Chakraval, Vol.16, #2755, 19.2.2008

    • [South] Korean Government Provides Eleven Ambulances to the Royal Government of Cambodia [Koh Santepheap says 20 ambulances]
    • Smuggled Goods Imported through Phnom Proek Border Crossings, Battambang; Border Crossing Chiefs, Customs Officer Chiefs, and Police Chiefs Happy to Collect Money [bribes and extortion]


    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #46, 19.2.2008

    • Citizens of Three Villages of Chi Kha Leu Commune, Srae Ambel [Koh Kong] Blocked National Road 48, Demanding Hun Sen Stop [oknha and senator from the Cambodian People’s Party] Ly Young Phat from Land Grabbing
    • Thailand Returned 105,000 [illegal] Cambodian Laborers in 2007; the Number Is Bigger Than in 2006


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1571, 19.2.2008

    • Table with Slogan of Gandhi’s “Seven Sins” [carved in marble] Inaugurated [by the municipality of Phnom Penh]

    • Gandhi’s “Seven Sins”

      Wealth without work.

      Pleasure without conscience.

      Knowledge without character.

      Commerce without morality.

      Science without humanity.

      Worship without sacrifice.

      Politics without principle.

    • Cambodia Reconstructs Old and Damaged Railways
    • Oknha Try Heng [advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen] Announced the Appointment of Nearly 2,000 Group Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Cambodian People’s Party in the Kokir Commune [Kien Svay, Kandal]
    • Mam Sonando [Director of Sambok Khmum Radio] Mediates Meeting of Three Parties [Sam Rainsy Party, Human Rights Party, and Norodom Ranariddh Party]
    • 200 Workers [of Tonga Garment Factory] Expelled by House Owners Because They Do Not Have Money to Pay their Rents [Dangkao, Phnom Penh]
    • A Police Official of the Anti-Terrorist Department at the Ministry of Interior Had His Hands and Legs Tied and Was Shot in the Neck from Behind [by unknown people – his diamond ring, phone, and watch were stolen – 18 February – Mukh Kampul, Kandal]
    • [Female] Singer Meng Keopechda Sues [TV5 producer] Char Rithy, Demanding $22,000 Compensation [for canceling an appointment for a concert in Siem Reap]
    • Suicide Bombing Killed 80 People in Afghanistan [17 February]
    • Nearly 1,000 People Died from Cold Weather in Afghanistan [last weekend]
    • Two Boys Died from Bird Flu in Indonesia


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #112, 19.2.2008

    • Asian Development Bank Puts Meat in Tiger’s Mouth over Arrangement of Railways
    • Mr. Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Has No Hope that Anti-Corruption Law Can Be Made, Because It Is Connected to the Ruling Party


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6275, 19.2.2008

    • Japan Provides US$861,986 as Aid to Cambodian Mine Action Center in Battambang
    • South Korea Provides 20 Ambulances and Office Supplies to Cambodia [Chakraval says 11 ambulances]


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3391, 19.2.2008

    • Illegal Logging in Kratie Increases Enormously


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4519, 19.2.2008


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3251, 19.2.2008

    • Cambodian People’s Party Plans to Bring [Cambodian factory] Workers and All Students Abroad To Cambodia to Vote [according a “reliable source”]

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    Monday, 18.2.2008: Former Khmer Rouge Leader in Phnom Voar Died

    Posted on 19 February 2008. Filed under: Week 548 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 548

    “Phnom Penh: Mr. Sam Bith, a cruel former Khmer Rouge commander, died in Calmette Hospital after he had been arrested in 2002 over the charge of killing three foreigners and sentenced to life in prison.

    “Kim Ry, 56, Mr. Sam Bith’s wife, told Kampuchea Thmey in the morning of 16 February 2008 at the Calmette Hospital that her husband was sent to the hospital more than one month ago, but due to his serious illnesses, he finally died. She also added that her husband’s diseases included high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and a stroke. He could not do anything for the last three years; he became bedridden. He could not walk normally like other people.

    “She continued that since her husband had these diseases, he was frequently sent to hospital. Sometimes, he was sent to Monivong Hospital near Phsar Thmey, and sometimes to Calmette Hospital. But because of his grave illnesses, he could not be helped. He finally died at 21:30 on 15 February 2008 in Calmette Hospital. Ms. Khim Ry stated that she has nothing to complain. The death was due to his illness.

    “Sam Bith’s daughter, Ms. Bith Rem, 40, who was a former Khmer Rouge commander in the Phnom Voar region of southwest Cambodia, told Kampuchea Thmey that her father was arrested on 25 May 2002 in Battambang and was sentenced to life in prison, charged of murdering three foreigners, but her father did not commit the murders as charged.

    “Ms. Bith Rem continued that the arrest of her father occurred while he was an adviser to the Ministry of National Defense, as a Major General, appointed by the Royal Government after the integration [of the final remnants of the Khmer Rouge forces] in 1996. She stated that after the integration in 1996, her father was given a position in the Ministry of National Defense, and he started to work there from that time on. But in 2002, her father was arrested by the government’s forces over the charge of shooting three foreigners.

    “Ms. Khim Ry, Sam Bith’s wife, said that she did not remember the date, but she remembers that her husband Sam Bith and herself were married before the Khmer Rouge regime in Damnak Snuol village, Srae Knong commune, Chhuk, Kampot. After the marriage, she had only one daughter, Bith Rem. After the collapse of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, she lived near the Thai border, in Samlot, while her husband continued with the resistance group and was appointed commander in the southwest area of Phnom Voar.

    “Regarding to the killing of the three foreigners, she claimed that when they were killed, her husband was in Thailand to have his health checked. He knew nothing. She had also questioned her husband whether he had ordered his subordinates to kill those three foreigners. Her husband had denied this. He did not order it; that is why, when he was arrested, he pushed her to help him to protest.

    “It is noted that Sam Bith was arrested by government forces on 25 May 2002 in Sdau village, Sdau commune, Ratank Mondol, Battambang, where Sam Bith and his wife were living, and he was convicted by the court to be imprisoned for life, together with two other Khmer Rouge commanders named Chhouk Rin and Nuon Paet (presently in Prey Sar prison), charged with killing the three foreigners, Mr. David Wilson, Briton, Mr. Mark Slater, Australian, and Mr. Jean Michel Braquet, Frenchman, in 1994, while the three foreigners traveled by train across the Phnom Voar area. Nuon Paet and Chhouk Rin as well as Sam Bith were known as strong Khmer Rouge commanders in the Phnom Voar area. They ordered their subordinates to attack the train almost every day, and finally to kill the three foreigners.

    [It is surprising that the present article does not mention that not only three foreigners were killed after having been taken hostage, but also ten Cambodians were killed in the attack on the train – an important aspect of the tragic conflicts of that time, leaving important features of the history obscured. Chouk Rin was later interviewed and gave his own account of the events.]

    “An autopsy was conducted on Sam Bith’s body by the competent medical staff, and the family was allowed to take his body to Ratanak Mondol, Battambang, to hold a funeral ceremony. Sam Bith’s wife and daughter were sitting next to the morgue of Calmette Hospital, burning ceremonial papers following Chinese traditional funeral practices, while the body was kept locked in the room of the morgue to avoid that reporters would take pictures. The reporters were just sitting outside, waiting for the time when Sam Bith’s body was brought out to be sent off.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1570, 17-18.2.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 18 February 2008


    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #45, 18.2.2008

    • Mr. Keo Remy [vice-president of the Human Rights Party]: Yuon [Vietnamese] Government Cares about and Carries Gifts to Distribute to Yuon Nationals Who Live Illegally in Cambodia
    • Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Which Is Notorious for Corruption, Plans to Seek $170 Million to Operate until 2011
    • Ranariddh Will Have No Chance to Return to Cambodia if He Does Not Beg Strongman Hun Sen
    • If Human Rights Party Wins 2008 Elections, It Will Serve Citizens Without Conditions


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1570, 17-18.2.2008

    • Former Khmer Rouge Leader in Phnom Voar Died
    • Mr. Cheam Channy [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Cham] Denies Leaving the Opposition Party
    • A Japanese Association for International Peace Provides 200 Wheel Chairs to the Cambodian Red Cross
    • Samdech Dekchor Prime Minister Receives INPEX Corporation [from Japan]
    • Forest Crimes in Puok Strong Like a Storm [Siem Reap]
    • [19-year-old] Woman, Whose Parents Did Not Allow Her to Go to Work in Thailand, Committed Suicide [by taking poison – 11 February – Bakan, Pursat]
    • Thousands of Philippine Citizens Demonstrated Demanding [President] Ms. Arroyo Resign [on accusation of serious corruption – 15 February – Manila]


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #111, 18.2.2008

    • Son Chhay: Hun Sen Government Can Compare Its Progress Only to Pol Pot Regime


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6274, 18.2.2008

    • US Discusses Debt Owed by Lon Nol Era; General Opinion Says US Should Better Cancel the Debt
    • Ministry of Interior Holds Examination to Select 590 Officials
    • Khmer Students [in Phnom Penh] Help Mr. Chey Mongkol, Teacher of Khmer Language in Surin, Thailand [with money contributions]
    • 50 Young People Fought against Each Other in Banan [with axes and knives: 2 dead and 3 wounded [Battambang]
    • Mr. Putin Affirmed that He Will Become Russian Prime Minister [14 February]
    • Serbia and Russia Warned that They Will Definitely Not Recognize Independence of Kosovo


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3390, 18.2.2008

    • Parliamentarian Ho Vann [Sam Rainsy Party from Phnom Penh] Supports Demand [by workers] for Increase of Salaries for Workers to $80
    • Culture of Irresponsibility Becomes Inheritance from [former] Khmer Rouge Leaders up to Present
    • Yuon [Vietnamese] Government Comes to Distribute Gifts to Immigrants Who Live Illegally in Cambodia When Elections Approach


    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1280, 18.2.2008

    • A Military General Wounded a Man’s Foot with a Bullet [after a words’ clash – Dangkao, Phnom Penh]


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3250, 17-18.2.2008

    • Leaders of Cambodian People’s Party Government and Their Factional Businesspeople Must Repay Foreign Debts of More than $6 Billion [as they boast about strong economic growths]


    Snadai Khmeng Wat, Vol.8, #133, 18-22.2.2008

    • A Journalist [of Snadai Khmeng Wat] Threatened to Be Shot to Death by a Wood Businesswoman [Siem Reap]
    • Cambodian People’s Party Will Win Majority of Votes in 2008; Even Big Brother Number 2 Nuon Chea Praises Leadership of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen


    Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #623, 17-18.2.2008

    • Government Official [Khieu Kanharith] Gets Angry with US Secretary of State Who Spoke about Facts in Cambodia
    • Khmers in Norway Raise Funds to Help Surin Khmers to Learn the Khmer Language

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