Samdech Dekchor: Isolation Sickness, Not to Work in Teams Does Not Lead to Success but to Danger – Friday, 4.6.2010

Posted on 5 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: In front of students and officials of the Royal University of Administration who received their degrees on Thursday, 3 June 2010, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, said that if somebody does not work cooperatively and works with a self-isolating attitude, such an approach does not lead to success but to danger.

“Presiding over the 54th anniversary of the creation of the Royal University of Administration, combined with the granting ceremony of degrees and certificates to students and to senior officials of the Royal University of Administration, held at the National Institute of Education, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘A person should not be isolated but working in a team – to work together leads to success. To isolate oneself is like a dangerous sickness. Such people believe that if they leave the country, the nation will collapse, and if they leave their province, the province will be ruined.’

“The head of the Royal Government added that in any institution, both in the Royal Government and in the ministries, not all people commit corruption. If there are 100 officials, only two or three are corrupt. Therefore the others will cooperate to eliminate corruption.

“The head of the government publicly announced during this event that the leader of the country, as well as fellow officials, are servants of the people to provide services to them and not to dominate the people.

“In this sense, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that the higher positions they hold, and the more powerful they are, the more they have to lower themselves down to listen to others.

“He said, ‘We must think that we have to serve the people, but not to control them. Whether we hold high or low positions, we must listen to all arguments, and we must be honest to the people and do everything for them, but we must not do anything that affects them.’

“At the same time, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen announced again that he will be the candidate for the position of prime minister in the 2013 elections, and that he has the total support of the Cambodian People’s Party. He said, ‘If you want Hun Sen to be prime minister, you have to vote for the Cambodian People’s Party, but Hun Sen alone cannot work, he needs the support by the party.’

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians told Deum Ampil that the announcement about the candidacy as prime minister by Samdech Hun Sen does not mean that he will stay in this position forever. It depends on the upcoming votes by the people.

“The head of the Royal Government said that the activities of the Royal government in the previous terms and in the current fourth term show that the people support the government, and this will lead to success also in the next terms.

“On the same occasion, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen recalled the three core points of the Win-Win Policy of the Royal Government that have led to total national unity and to progress:

  1. Guarantee the security of both the possessions and the lives of all persons who leave Pol Pot to join the government.
  2. Keep them in their roles that they played before. If they are soldiers, let them still be soldiers. If they were police, let them be police. And if they were district governors, let them be in their positions.
  3. Recognize both that they were a movement and they are no more a movement.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #495, 4.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 4 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #495, 4.6.2010

  • Different Ideas between the Ruling and the Opposition Parties over the US$1.1 Billion Aid
  • Samdech Dekchor: Isolation Sickness, Not to Work in Teams Does Not Lead to Success but to Danger

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2266, 4.6.2010

  • Two Foreigners [living in Cambodia, a Bangladeshi and a Nepali] Were Sent to Court for Being Suspected as Members of a Terrorist Network [anonymous persons had written letters to some embassies, saying that there are foreign terrorists transiting through Cambodia – and then police investigated and arrested these two foreigners; but they claim that they are not involved]
  • A Tropical Storm Destroyed Twenty Houses, Injured Fifteen People, and Killed Six Cows in Khsach Kandal District [Kandal]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #775, 4.6.2010

  • Khmer Kampuchea Krom People Will Celebrate [on 4 June 2010] the 61th Anniversary of the Loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Land [to Vietnam in 1949] while the Authorities of the Hun Sen Government Try to Restrict Them [this year the celebration is allowed only at the Samaki Reangsei pagoda in the Stung Meanchey commune, Meanchey district, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6973, 4.6.2010

  • Cambodia Receives Pledges of US$1.1 Billion Development Aid [at the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum 2010]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3897, 4.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Support the Rights and the Benefit of Workers Who Plan to Strike without Public Marching, for Three Days [to demand an increase of salaries, and to press employers to obey the labor law of Cambodia]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #186, 4.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]
  • The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5215, 4.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Embassy: Thai Police Tortured a Cambodian Worker [scars are seen on his body as a result of beating] to Get Him to Admit [that he was involved in destroying and burning a Thai bank; Cambodia asked Thailand to release him]
  • The Number of Vehicles Countrywide Increased to More Than One Million [there are 1,391,565 vehicles where 1,135,638 are motorbikes; according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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How can the law be set aside? – Sunday, 13.12.2009

Posted on 15 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 642 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

The Mirror is, in principle, an instrument that tries to do what it’s name says: to mirror what is in the news – and a mirror sees everything. It is not selecting what to show and what not to show. This is a high goal for a press review – it cannot be realized in our publication in quantity; but in quality it has to try to reflect major trends, even if some of them contradict each other.

Since some weeks, and with increasing clarity, two different ways to refer to the former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, can be observed:

  • The ousted former Thai prime minister, ousted by a military coup – compared to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar – his conviction for corruption is considered to be only a politically motivated move, he is considered as having created an economic model that assured him electoral victory, and therefore he is an appropriate adviser on economic affairs for the Cambodian political leadership and for Cambodia – and he is, after all, also an “eternal friend” of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
  • The fugitive former Thai prime minister was found guilty by the Thai Supreme Court and convicted to a two years prison sentence for corruption, helping his wife to buy an expensive piece of land in Bangkok, from public property into personal ownership, and way under the current market price. He had built up his telecommunications network to the strongest economic power outdoing other during his time in office. He therefore could afford to not only deposit a big fund for temporarily staying our of prison on bail, he could also afford to break his promise and lose this money – but he still is rich enough to travel around the world in a private jet aircraft, having achieved a (semi)permanent residence in exile in the financial center of Dubai.

He wielded power in 2003, during the anti-Thai riots which resulted in the ransacking of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh and the destruction of other Thai property; later it was estimated that US$ 56 million went up in smoke during on night. But it was he who threatened the Cambodian Prime Minister to dispatch Thai paratroopers to Phnom Penh immediately, if the Cambodian government would not start to take action against the rioters within one hour. – Now again he wields power from exile, by successfully appealing to Prime Minister Hun Sen to pardon a Thai citizen accused to have been acting as a spy and convicted to 7 years in prison – most media describe that he did not appeal to the King who has the power to pardon, though the King finally granted the pardon. And this within three days – violating past practice that pardons for persons convicted to prison will only be granted after the prisoner has served at least two thirds of the time in prison – but in this case, only about 1% of the time had been served. No explanation has been given to the public why the Cambodian government is violating the history of it’s own practice.

The Thai government is, of course, obliged to try to implement verdicts of the Thai Constitutional Court, and therefore said it would request again for his extradition, but the Cambodian foreign ministry spokesperson Mr. Koy Kuong said such a demand would be “just a waste of time.” After all, Prime Minister Hun Sen had also said to consider the preset Thai government illegitimate, as it was formed on the basis of coalition agreements and not as a result of a direct popular vote. No wonder that the Thai government and other international observers ask how this can be reconciled with the traditional ASEAN practice of not interfering in the internal political structure of a member country.

A Cambodian Anti-Corruption Draft Law – still kept secret from the public, but already forwarded to the Assembly – has already passed the Cabinet in the morning of 11 December 2009. What will it’s provisions be? It was argued, since October 1993, when a draft first had reached the National Assembly, that an Anti-Corruption law cannot be operated without a new Penal Code. Now, there is a Penal Code.

One may try to imagine what the Cambodian governments reaction would be if another member state of ASEAN, like for example Malaysia, would entertain intensive communication with a major Cambodian opposition party in Cambodia, trying to change Cambodian court decisions

Nobody can hope for a solution by simply combining some arguments from both sides, like saying: “Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, the criminal convicted by the Thai high court for personal embezzlement, the adviser of the Cambodian government, is now commenting on what a new Anti-Corruption Law should contain. And which kind of violations of laws for personal gain, which kinds of misuse of high level power should be excluded from corruption investigation, when they have been committed by highly placed persons…”

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Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

Posted on 17 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

It seems that some issues, which need to be clarified, do not find any solution – not only because they are controversial, but because it seem to happen frequently that issues raised are not discussed – the detailed facts and concerns they raised are disregarded, they are put aside by flat denial, not touching at the presented facts at all. Or instead of dealing with controversial facts, the “other party” is served with an insult – and it is up to the reader to consider whether the insult carries enough conviction to override the arguments, or whether an insult, instead of an argument, backfires on the party which refuses to engage in a rational discussion.

We will bring here some reminders, where it seems that facts and opinions had been presented, and the public received responses. Some seem to have intended to close further discussion – though the discussion continues anyway. In some cases we hope to lead to further open discussion – inviting to consider some aspects which are not widely shared, but may merit more attention. We let “both parties” speak.

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On 5 February 2009, the UK based organization Global Witness published a report entitled Country for Sale. The organization describes its general, global outreach, in the following way:

“Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’ and awarded the 2007 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, sponsored jointly by Washington DC based Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.”

The content of the study, presented on 72 pages with detailed references, is described by Global Witness as follows:

“Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – could eventually earn enough from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid. The report, Country for Sale, exposes for the first time how this future is being jeopardized by high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage in the allocation and management of these critical public assets.

Country for Sale details how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. The beneficiaries of many of these deals are members of the ruling elite or their family members. Meanwhile, the findings suggest that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources may be missing from the national accounts.”

Among the details, Global witness says:

“Global Witness wrote to both Chevron and BHP Billiton in October 2008 to ask them to reveal any payments made to the Cambodian government or government officials. At the time of publication, Chevron had not responded. BHP Billiton however, did reply to say that BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and the Cambodian Government have established a joint social development fund. The total contribution of BHP and Mitsubishi is to be US$2.5 million. BHP’s response stated: ‘BHP Billiton has never made a payment to a Cambodian Government official or representative and we reject any assertion that the payment under the minerals exploration agreement is, or the amounts contributed to the Social Development Projects Fund are, “tea money”.’ BHP also shared how much had been paid to the Cambodian government, adding: ‘In accordance with the terms of a minerals exploration agreement with the Cambodian government which granted BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi the right to explore for bauxite an amount of US$1 million was formally paid to the Cambodian government in September 2006.’”

The Cambodian Embassy in London responded to the publication of Country for Sale with a press release with a color graphic page, saying global witness – A Collection of Rubbish

“Reacting angrily to the report, the Ambassador of Cambodia in the UK, H.E. Nambora Hor, accused Global Witness of being poorly-managed and indulging in hugely-damaging smear campaigns. He called on the wide variety of international bodies which help fund Global Witness to demand an urgent review of its policies and activities. ‘It is naïve for Global Witness to imagine that Cambodia’s international donors are not fully aware of the way the Royal Cambodian Government’s conducts its affairs and its commitment to demonstrating the highest possible standards.’”

Details about this Social Development Projects Fund – who administers these huge amounts of money paid by some foreign companies, and for which purposes, and under whose public monitoring – are not known to the public.

=

On 25 February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State published a 2008 Human Rights Report: Cambodia, part of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 16,000 words report on Cambodia states initially:

“The government’s human rights record remained poor. Security forces committed extrajudicial killings and acted with impunity. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions were a continuing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and the press and at times interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic. Domestic violence and child abuse occurred, education of children was inadequate, and trafficking in women and children persisted. The government offered little assistance to persons with disabilities. Anti-union activity by employers and weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.

On February 15, the government passed and promulgated a comprehensive Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation containing provisions criminalizing all forms of human trafficking. By year’s end the Cambodian National Police had arrested perpetrators in 48 trafficking-in-persons and related cases, and the courts had convicted at least 12 persons on trafficking-related charges.”

The Mirror had carried a related report from a Khmer language newspaper on 27 February 2009. On 14 March 2009, we carried a report from another Khmer newspaper, saying:

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses the US Department of State’s Report [on the human rights situation in Cambodia] on behalf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia.”

But later, another Khmer newspaper reported in its 15/16 March 2009 edition: “The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that tens of thousands of families of Khmer citizens suffer human rights violations.” And reports in the Phnom Penh Post of 16 March 2009 show a 9 year old boy standing in the wreckage of his house – sixteen houses in the Rik Reay Community – “Happy Community” – were torn down, and the area is being fenced in. A teacher, living there, said he had received a death threat. “This mistreatment is to force us to agree to their compensation package,” he said. “I am now worried for my personal security because I heard a company staffer on the walkie-talkie saying they would kill me because I am a community leader. I want to tell you that if I die, it was not at the hands of anyone else but because I was murdered by the staff of Bassac Garden City.”

=

On 12 March 2009, we carried the headline from a Khmer newspaper, reporting Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth. And in order to elaborate, we added a link to the original text of the March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, where he says:

“Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising against Communist China’s repression in Tibet. Since last March widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride… We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

“Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed…

“Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy…

“We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.”

But while the voice of the Dalai Lama receives wide attention in the international press, there is also another aspect of the history of Tibet, which is not addressed, but to which the People’s Daily Online refers: Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history:

“The Dalai Lama also alleged at a gathering in India’s Dharamsala to mark his 50 years in exile that “these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

“Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has not only been on the wrong side of history, but also has got the history upside down. Miseries of ‘hell on earth’ and ‘untold suffering’ occurred nowhere but in the slavery Tibet symbolized by the Dalai Lama.

“Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

“The feudal serfdom had truly brought ‘untold suffering and destruction’ to the serfs and slaves who accounted for 90 percent of the then population.

“The slavery in Tibet was just ‘hell on earth’ as Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, observed that the Dalai Lama’s theocratic position enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished. That was because he held absolute sway over both this life and the next of the serfs and coerced them with that power.

“In 1959, after the failed rebellion by the Dalai Lama and his followers, the central government of China carried out the long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet…

“But just as the rebellion by the Dalai Lama clique failed disgracefully 50 years ago, its fantasy of ‘Tibetan Independence’ is also doomed to failure, because of the firm opposition from the Chinese people, including the Tibetans in Tibet.”

But the Dalai Lama does not speak of Tibet’s independence, but of national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution, and this within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides do not hear each other in detail to reach mutual understanding. It is easier to maintain an old antagonism than to find ways to a common understanding – a much more difficult task.

=

On 13 March 2009, the Mirror carried an article “IMF: Cambodia Cannot Avoid the Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis!” (with reference back to similar IMF statements which we had mirrored on 13 February 2009):

“The Cambodian economy is in a negative status… We are talking about a period of dramatic decline in economic activities. So far, what we have seen is that the depth of the downturn is worse than expected.”

Since many weeks, there were many voices echoing the IMF concerns, even more so, since the Prime Minister had publicly questioned that the international economic downturn – in the so called economically rich countries – has the same social effects in a country like Cambodia. His comparison of rich and poorer countries with elephants and sheep may turn out to be a clue not only to understand the differences, but also to find ways to mitigate the economic problems in Cambodia, in a way industrialized countries cannot do:

“Growth in agriculture can surely prevent Cambodia from falling into an economic crisis, even though some major sectors of the Cambodian economy encounter a downturn.”

A foreign businessman, living in Cambodia, shared his appraisal on 12 March 2009, Putting It in Perspective:

“Now that the U. S. has shed 4.5 million jobs in the past 18 months alone and unemployment stands at 8.1 %, the conventional wisdom is that garment exports will go down substantially as the U. S. is the main market for Cambodia. The current figures appear to prove it, with a 27% decrease in exports for the month of February alone. Last December it was 30%…

“Likewise, tourist arrivals show a 2.9% reduction over the same month last year…

“According to the latest statistics the construction sector is holding sort of firm, although it was reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 jobs were lost there too.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen finds fault with all those predictions, saying that all those number are altogether not that important. What’s important is that people won’t go hungry in Cambodia. All those factory workers that lost their job can go back to their native village where they will find a rice paddy to cultivate, and a family that will take care of them…

“So the garment factory girls come back and find their wooden houses, a functioning family structure, and food to eat. They don’t have problems with heating or air conditioning… They wear simple clothes. There is one communal cell-phone which provides contact to the outside world. Yes, this is a simple life, and Westerners can only look on with widened eyes wondering how people can live like this. But let’s face it – this is reality, not only in Cambodia, but in most of South East Asia. And rural areas are exactly where the majority of the factory workers come from.

“So the fact that people can go back to their village is actually a boon for them. Yes, they are poor but they have to eat. And in this context let’s not look at the social problems, e.g. lack of health care and fundamental education. This is for another, hopefully not too far off, time.

“The Western alternative is no laughing matter. People losing their jobs, lose their homes, their savings along the line, their health care, practically their freedom. In my view it’s much more dire in the West. Recession hits people in the industrialized world much harder.”

Not all readers shared his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s perspective. He responded, “I like a good discussion with contrarian viewpoints, but they need to make sense.”

It is in this same spirit that this issue of the Mirror presents contrary and controversial views. We hope also for a good discussion – but the points put forward need to make sense. And this requires to research complex facts, and to engage in open, rational thinking.

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