About the Clear Separation of Functions and Responsibilities – Sunday, 30.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

According to the Preamble of the Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia is a multi-party liberal democracy. That different people make different observations and have different information and different opinions is natural – that these can also be expressed and discussed openly is legal under such a constitution, unless there is any criminal intent involved.

When putting the pieces for the Mirror together day by day, we encounter often confrontative news items which could be resolved easily by an open, mutual, clarifying consultation about facts and structural arrangements, which might overcome personal positions and feelings.

During the past week, we carried a report about a tragic event in India: “160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India.” But this is not just a tragedy – it is necessary to investigate what led to this problem, in order to avoid similar events to happen in future. Naturally, questions about safety procedures have to be clarified – and there were some press reports claiming that the accident was the result of a soft handling of air safety regulations. When this discussion started, the management of Air India claimed to make a thorough investigation by themselves – and prohibited its employees to discuss related questions with the press. This resulted in further protests: “The striking employees were upset over the management’s gag order prohibiting some of its leaders to speak out in public on the Mangalore crash.”

In the meantime, the Indian government has set up a Court of Inquiry headed by a former high court judge, and a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council with persons with a background in aviation, and experts in engineering and operations. They will conduct the inquiry, not Air India. And the strike was called off.

Does this mean that the Indian government does not trust the management of Air India? Maybe or maybe not – the fundamentally important point is that Operations and Safety are to be handled by two separate, independent bodies, which have to cooperate mutually.

Some months ago, I had an experience in Malaysia where this separation obviously works. – We were about 250 passengers, waiting to board a long distance night flight. But instead of calling us to board the plane, we were told that the flight is canceled, buses would transport us to different hotels and collect us again in the morning. So it happened – connections lost and schedules not met. The explanation: When the plane was prepared for departure, the air safety controller discovered that the pilot had landed only 11 hours ago – but no pilot is allowed to fly again, if not 12 hours passed between two flights. Malaysia Airlines had to accept this ruling from the air safety institution, though it meant a disruption of many schedules and a considerable economic loss. The airline had assigned the pilot – “just one hour too short should be OK” – but the independent safety supervisor rejected this.

Not good personal relations of different actors, and group or institutional loyalties assure smooth an safe procedures, but clearly defined, different institutions – which all have to refer to objectively defined rules. And these rules have to be kept and followed.

When Mr. Om Yentieng was recently appointed as head of the newly created Anti-Corruption Unit, it was reported that some persons from the opposition parties raised critical questions about him – this is a case where different people may have different opinions. But we did not see any critical questions raised against the fact the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit is also automatically a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit. This is an objectively serious problem, whoever the person is. Everybody has to act responsibly in public offices – but this does not mean to be just responsible to oneself. Responsibility implies that one has to answer what is right and what is wrong to another institution. Where this is not structurally institutionalized, there is the danger that a conflict of interest may lead to wrong results.

Malaysian Airlines had the well founded interest not to disrupt its intercontinental schedule, and not to organize and pay for 250 hotel guests. But the air safety agency hand a different, also well founded interest: that the strict working schedules of pilots have to be kept.

When the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] started to investigate the Australian mining company BHP Billiton, and links to the US$2.5 million which had been paid as tea money to “Cambodia,” this naturally triggered a public interest where and under whose authorities and according to which rules this money was used. Then an amount of US$20 million from the French oil company Total was added to the surprises, and additional millions from an Indonesian company.

Then allegations surfaced that the ban on sand export, imposed by the government, was not applied, and sand exports to Singapore continued.

Around the time when different partial answers related to payments were reported in the press (which could not be reconciled with each other) the Prime Minister tasked the Senior Ministers Sok An and Keat Chhon to present a consolidated answer to the National Assembly; then also the Ambassador of Cambodia in London offered to publicly discuss and refute such allegations, raised by the British NGO Global Witness.

But on 21 May 2010, the Cambodian Embassy in London withdrew the offer in a letter from which we quote:

On the issue you raised, I am pleased to advise that His Excellency Hor Nambora is no longer prepared
to enter into a public debate with Global Witness.

First, we believe it would be inappropriate to share a platform with representatives of your organisation
since it would appear you have a politically-motivated and hidden agenda to discredit the legitimately-
elected Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Second, it seems clear that your group is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international
community, not least for the irresponsible and devious way in which you operate…

In short, as your group, leadership and campaigners certainly suffered from epilepsy and other mental disabilities, it would be more prudent for any Cambodian representatives or officials, not to take part in the debate.

Epilepsy is disease defined in medical terms as “a disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions” – it is surprising that the Cambodian embassy claims to have such medical data on the staff of Global Witness, quite apart form the whole style of this official letter.

We do also not have any information that Global Witness “is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international community.” – Global Witness shares the list of their supporters publicly:

Trusts and foundations

  • Adessium Foundation
  • The Blue Moon Fund
  • The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • The DOEN Foundation
  • The Fledgling Fund
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Jocarno Fund
  • The Joffe Charitable Trust
  • Foundation Open Society Institute (Zug)
  • The David and Elaine Potter Foundation
  • The RH Southern Trust
  • The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
  • The Roddick Foundation
  • The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation
  • The Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • The Staples Trust
  • The Wallace Global Fund

Development organisations

  • Concern Worldwide
  • Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
  • Oxfam Novib
  • Trocaire

Governments

  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • DFID – Department for International Development (UK)
  • The European Commission
  • Irish Aid – Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida)
  • Norad

To accuse Global Witness leadership of “epilepsy and other mental disabilities” is probably not making an impression on the supporters of the world wide activities of Global Witness. It will rather bring embarrassing questions, asking to explain how an embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can act in such a non-professional way.

In Cambodia today, to make such a public statement, might this lead to a court case for disinformation and defamation.

Again: this is not first of all a question about the person who wrote this letter. It is a question in which way, in the diplomatic service where such a letter was written, responsibility is exercised – not only personally by oneself and for oneself – but in a way that one institution, or one part of the institution, has to submit itself to another institution, to clarify what is acceptable, and what is not, for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

During the week, the question has also been raised, whether somebody from outside tries “to teach” something to Cambodia. This may happen occasionally, but it is not as important as that the field, as described by the Constitution, is kept open to exercise the freedoms of expression and opinion. The article about Mr. Vann Molyvann, who has shaped the image of Phnom Penh and some other places in the contry, is such an example. In spite of his historical role and his achievements, he felt compelled to resign, when his professional judgment as an architect and as a long term protector of Khmer traditional culture was overruled for shot term economic gain. To listen to him is worth while. Not only because this previous warnings about the over-use of ground water in the Angkor area have now – finally – been seen as a real problem which may lead to the collapse of some of the old temples – similar to the destruction of more modern, but historical buildings in Phnom Penh and other cities, that are being destroyed and replaced by modern business buildings, for economic gain.

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Knowing – Using – or Disregarding the Law – Sunday, 18.10.2009

Posted on 20 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

Discussions about the law, or actions without much awareness or even disregard for the law, are reaching the media regularly, sometimes in increasing numbers – just like now. This reflects, of course, also a general awareness in certain sections of the public.

Whoever mentions the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is mostly happy about it, and since the introduction of the Senate into to political structures of the country, there was hardly any suggestion that the Constitution should be changed – though there have been repeated pleas that its implementation should be improved. Though one member of the National Assembly is reported to have said recently he regrets that the death penalty is excluded by the Constitution – an opinion quite contrary to international developments during the last decade.

But that does not mean that it is always clear how certain basic statements in the Constitution are to be translated into practice. The conflicts between different mobile phone service providers, going on since a couple of weeks already, have shown this.

The Constitution simply says in Articles 56, 57, and 63:

  • “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system.
  • The preparation and process of this economic system shall be determined by the law.
  • Tax collection shall be in accordance with the law…
  • The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

But had it been “determined by law” what, for example, as we mirrored on 15 October 2009, that “Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide.” Why only now in October, one might ask – does this boost tax income, or did it delay payments to the state by those who have enough resources to own motorized vehicles?

The charges and payment methods of several old and new mobile phone providers – all supposedly operating according to a market economy system – led not only to confrontative discussions among them, but also to a disruption of certain services: some systems were said to not have forwarded calls to some other systems – the users, the consumers, suffered from these conflicts, so that finally appeals to the government were made to find solutions.

What had happened? Some newer companies had started to offer new fee and payment systems, including free calls between users of the same system, but charging for calls to others networks. Competitive pricing seemed for those who offered it within the market economy system, as in many other countries – where it is left to the market to see which company survives with the response they get from their customers.

The Constitution, concerned with the most favorable results for the end consumer, seems to support this also:

  • “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Cheaper communication costs seem to fulfill this goal.

It is always a good practice so look at innovative approaches in other countries – not necessarily to follow everything, but to seriously consider solutions others found in their context:

Earlier this year, the Tata corporation of India, dealing with cars, telecommunications, and steel, is setting up with the Japanese DOCOMO company, a new cellular service in the Indian market, where there are already more than 350 million customers. So Tata DOCOMO had to find ways to compete. All very similar to Cambodia – but on a much smaller scale. Tata DOCOMO used special lower cost pricing – charging per second where others charge per minute, charging SMS by the number of of letters sent, and not per message.

But it seems that decisions have been taken in Cambodia not to allow a “free market management,” by not allowing some companies to offer their customers free services. And even a special private company will be introduced to do the work which in many other countries is one of the tasks of the regulators, not of another private company – doing public coordination – which was not formed as a not-for-profit, and not by public bidding.

Not according to existing laws, but by administrative intervention, a market problem is being solved.

During the week, another crucial problem of acting within and according to the framework of the law was raised: Who knows what the law says – how is this made know? Known to the citizens what rights they have, and know to the law enforcement agents throughout the country – the police and the courts – which rights of the citizens they have to protect.

We repeat some observations from Saturday, 19.10.2009 – more details and the source is there:

Civil Society Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly

“Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed…

“On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

“Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…”

But there are different opinions about the sequence in which new legislation is needed in society: “The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Said that an Anti-Corruption Law Should Be Created before a Demonstration Law.” Why this sequence? “Because if corruption can be prevented, workers and citizens in general will not demonstrate or strike.”

Of course there are also those who just don’t seem to care, as long as the law enforcement leadership of the country does not care either, as we had mirrored:

“Koh Kong, Kompong Thom, and Prey Veng Governors Do not Care about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Crack Down On Gambling”

.

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Thursday, 21.8.2008: Hun Sen Government Is Weak, It Conducts Diplomatic Politics by Kneeling Down to Beg Siam to Withdraw Invading Troops from Cambodia

Posted on 22 August 2008. Filed under: Week 574 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 574


Apologies: The link to the Joint Communique and the attached map – see further down – had been broken. It is now fixed. Thanks to the alert from a reader.

“To clarify one’s position by kneeling down under the pressure of the diplomatic politics by Siam [Thailand] or to say that the Hun Sen government is defeated by the Siamese [Thai] diplomatic warfare regarding the incursion by Siamese troops to control the Preah Vihear Temple and the Ta Moan Temple regions – these are two prominent positions to describe the representatives of the Hun Sen government. Hor Namhong, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Hun Sen government, promised Siam to revoke Cambodia’s complaint to the UN Security Council about the incursion by Siam into Cambodia, and the Hun Sen government also agreed to beg Siam, by withdrawing its troops unilaterally from the Preah Vihear Temple region, so that Siam also withdraws its troops from Khmer territory.

The press in Cambodia – the Khmer press and the international press alike – have not published (as far as we know – if we are wrong, please inform us) the extremely important Joint Communique, signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of Royal Government of Cambodia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, on 18 June 2008. This was the last joint submission to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, which led to the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. The full document and the appended map [‘the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached’ to the Joint Communique] is here; (it is a big file of 1.3 MB). To read the Joint Communique and to see the attached map, you need to have the free Adobe Reader or a comparable software installed – you can download the Adobe Reader here.

We strongly recommend to have a look, especially also at the map with a tiny stretch of land in red, claimed as the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.

This document is available internationally, it has been published various time in the Thai media. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs signed this document, relating to national sovereignty and territory integrity, without asking the Thai parliament for a decision, led to a verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court, accusing him of overstepping is responsibilities, and thus violating the Thai constitution – so he had to resign.

This document – co-signed in the name of the Kingdom of Cambodia – is also the basis for much public opinion in Thailand about the Cambodian government. It is surprising – and important to note – that this document of high international value, is not, or not easily, available to the Khmer public.

It seems that many arguments in the Khmer press are either not aware of this document, or avoid to see it, because of its bewildering implications. To analyze the content of the document might lead to some different conclusions and arguments, different from what is nowadays in the press. We provide today some references to the Joint Communique and invite our readers to appraise the situation, comparing and relating it to the Joint Communique and the new Cambodian map.

We would, of course, be happy to see some such reactions in the Comments you may write – or in e-mail to myself, the editor of the Mirror, at mirror@gmx.org

“This information was made known after a two-day-meeting on 18 and 19 August 2008, and especially, after a high ranking delegation of the government of Cambodia, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hor Namhong, accompanied by senior representatives of the Minister of Interior of Cambodia, also came to visit the Siamese King at his palace in Hua Hin.

“Explaining that this is to express sympathy and friendship among good neighbors, between Cambodia and Thailand, and to avoid confrontation between Siamese troops invading and Khmer troops protecting its territory, Hor Namhong and the Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang reported the same content about the results of these negotiations. Hor Namhong said that Cambodia agreed to withdraw a complaint against Siam’s incursion into the Preah Vihear Temple region to the UN Security Council; representatives of the Hun Sen government consider this to be a concession towards Siam so that they agree to withdraw also their troops from Cambodia.

“Moreover, Hor Namhong said also that in response to an order by Hun Sen, Cambodia agreed, on its side, to please Siam by promising to recall the Khmer troops from the Preah Vihear Temple region of Cambodia.

“Hor Namhong said, ‘We will withdraw all troops from the Contested Regions. We will withdraw also the complaint to the UN Security Council.’

“Cambodia filed a complaint to the UN Security Council to ask for intervention, asking to convene an urgent meeting, to solve the confrontation between Cambodian and Siamese troops, after Siam had invaded Khmer territory on 15 July 2008. However, the complaint of Cambodia to the UN Security Council was suspended by a phone call from the Siamese Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on 24 July 2008 to Mr. Hun Sen, requesting him to suspend this complaint (it seems to be a very interesting books), one day before the UN Security Council would have discussed it.

The Khmer press speaks, in general, in general terms, of the invasion into Khmer territory, without considering the declarations of the Cambodian representatives, especially also the new map presented by Cambodia – not bu Thailand! – with the Joint Communique, which says:

“1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription… of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached…

2….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.”

On 15 July 2008, Thai troops moved into the “northern and western areas of the Temple” which were not claimed by Cambodia “at this stage” as part of the territory of the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple, listed as a World Heritage Site.

“Mr. Hor Namhong said also, ‘We will withdraw the troops unilaterally form the disputed regions to express the good will of Cambodia, to avoid a confrontation that might lead to armed conflict.’

“What is seen is that Siam has a landslide victory in its diplomatic warfare, hiding its military incursion into Cambodia, when the head diplomat Hor Namhong, on Hun Sen’s order, agreed to do everything by kneeling down to totally beg Siam – like through the promise to revoke the complaint against Siam to the UN Security Council, and to announce to withdraw the Khmer troops from Khmer territory first, so that Siam agrees to withdraw its invading troops also.

What is called here “Khmer territory” seems to be part of the area contested between both countries – but more specifically in this case – an area outside of the perimeter claimed by Cambodia for the listing by the World Heritage Committee – see the note above.

“Observers and experts officials said that the Hun Sen government made Cambodia to be a looser, because that territory belongs to Cambodia, as stated in the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1962. If Cambodia dares to order its troops back to the region again, Siam will take the opportunity to use this as a reason to order its troops to control Khmer territory. It is not believed that there will be proper and just solutions in the meetings attended by foreign affairs ministers, interior high ranking officials, and the Cambodia’s Border Committee, to guarantee that Siam will give up its invading ambition ordering its troops to control Cambodian territory.

“Getting out from the Khmer-Siamese foreign affairs ministerial meeting on 18 August 2008 in Hua Hin, and then visiting the Siamese King, Hor Namhong said that the Khmer and the Siamese sides agreed to leave only ten soldiers at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda, and twenty soldiers close to the pagoda, in order to lessen the confrontation by both sides.

The Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda lies in the ‘buffer zone on the… western areas of the Temple’ which was ‘at this stage’ not claimed by the Cambodian negotiators as part of defining the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.

“Furthermore, the head of the Khmer diplomats Hor Namhong said that, as a concession which is quick like an arrow, aiming to defuse the confrontation between the troops of both sides, that the government of Cambodia agreed to withdraw all its troops from the border, and will turn to negotiate peacefully through meetings between the border commissions of both countries.

“In the meantime, regarding about the movement of troops by Siam into the Ta Moan Temple on Khmer territory in the western Dang Rek Mountain region, it was kept as a separate issue. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang said that it was not on the agenda to discuss the Ta Moan Temple issue, and both sides agreed to deal with it next time.

“This shows that it is a strategic trick of Siam in the diplomatic field to create new problems, while Cambodia is weak in this field, as well as in the field to defend the nation.

“Both sides claim that the solution for the disputes at the Preah Vihear Temple is to plan to look for border markers, to clearly mark the border lines. To say so is another political trick of Siam, since, in general, they know that a verdict in the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 15 June 1962 clearly stated, by basing its verdict on the French and Siam treaties of 1904 to 1907, signed by both sides about the Khmer and Siam borders lines, which was marked in an official map in 1908.

The court, in a very lengthy document publishing its verdict, stated that the court

‘…by nine votes to three, finds that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory
under the sovereignty of Cambodia.’

The text of the verdict clarifies things related to the temple; it does not clarify the border questions in the region. That is why both countries agreed that the next step necessary now is to work on the border demarcation.

As a related question, it would be interesting to know how the different border clarifications – with Laos, with Vietnam, and with Thailand – which have been already accomplished something, or which need still to continue to work, relate to Article 2 of the Cambodian Constitution:

‘The territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, shall absolutely not to be violated within its borders as defined in the 1/100,000 scale map made between the year 1933-1953 and internationally recognized between the years 1963 – 1969.’

This statement seems to imply that all border questions which all neighbors are already solved – otherwise, how could there be finite, clear, detailed numbers?] – but many sections of the borderline with neighboring countries are not yet solved..

“Just having seen that the Hun Sen government agreed to kneel down to beg Siam with promises that Cambodia will withdraw its troops, even from the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia, to please Siam so that they withdraw their troops from the areas where they invaded Cambodia, allows everyone to knows that the Hun Sen government is very weak diplomacy, as well as militarily to defend its territorial integrity. How can Khmers then hope that Cambodia, ruled by the Hun Sen government of the Cambodian People’s Party, will not lose Cambodian territory, because they serve the interests of themselves or of factions among the leaders of Siam and of the Hun Sen government?” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #226, 21.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 21 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1725, 21.8.2008

  • Kuwait Asks to Establish Its Embassy in Cambodia and Kuwait Will Come to Invest in Cambodia
  • Thai Opposition Group Asks Britain to Extradite Mr. Thaksin for Trial


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #226, 21.8.2008

    Hun Sen Government Is Weak, It Conducts Diplomatic Politics by Kneeling Down to Beg Siam to Withdraw Invading Troops from Cambodia


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #78, 21.8.2008

  • Price of Gasoline Is Reduced [by Riel 400 to 500, approx. US$0.10] after the Government Had Asked for Reductions
  • US Ambassador to Cambodia [Joseph A. Mussomeli] Will Hold His Final Press Conference on Monday 25 August 2008 [his mandate ends]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6429, 21.8.2008

  • Latest Information from Preah Vihear Temple Area: Number of Delegations, Donors, and Tourists Declines


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3544, 21.8.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: I Do Not Trust the Constitutional Council; They Wants to Finish the Cases Whenever They Want
  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party official]: The Price of Fuel on the Cambodian Market Is Still High because There Are Not Many Companies Competing with Each Other


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4673, 21.8.2008

  • [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Hor Namhong Compares the Negotiations [over the Preah Vihear Temple] to a Steam Roller [that it is slow but still moving]
  • The European Community Puts a High Value on Elections and Vows to Continue to Help Cambodia

  • [South] Korea Asks Cambodia to Support Investments in Mineral Resources and Energy in Cambodia
  • Many Houses of Members of the Women’s Coalition for Peace and Development Were Destroyed by a Group of Soldiers [15 August – over land disputes – Srae Ambel, Koh Kong]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3390, 21.8.2008

  • Eng Chhay Eang Resigns as Secretary-General of the Sam Rainsy Party, Causing Political Doubts
  • Ministry of Agriculture Prepares to Allow Import of Pike Fish [from Vietnam – making officials in the provinces at the border unhappy, as they have been well off from pike fish smuggling]

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – apprehension while waiting for the results of challenging alleged election fraud, the final official election results, and the forming of a new government

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Saturday, 2.8.2008: An Open Letter from Professors in the Field of the Studies about Southeast Asia Expressed Concerns about the Preah Vihear Temple

Posted on 3 August 2008. Filed under: Week 571 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 571

“On 1 August 2008, Rasmei Kampuchea received an open letter signed by professors who are involved in studies and research about Southeast Asia, expressing concern about the Preah Vihear Temple. Nearly fifty professors signed it, the majority of them are Thai, teaching at well-known universities in the world, such as Thammasat University, Thailand, University of Oxford, UK, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, University of Toronto, Canada, National University of Singapore, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA, Cornell University, USA, Washington University [not clear, as there are several ones: University of Washington, George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington State University – all USA], University of London, UK, Khon Kaen University, Thailand, Ohio University, USA, Mahidol University, Thailand, Rangsit University, Thailand, Berkeley, University of California, USA, Hamilton University [?], Chiang Mai University, Thailand, Silpakorn University (e-Learning), Thailand, University of Malaya, Malaysia, Royal Academy of Cambodia, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, and the Oxfordshire University, UK.

“Among the signatures is also the signature of Mr. Chhang Song, former Minister of Information of Cambodia, a retiring member of the Senate.

“This letter says:

“To professors, parents, the press, students, Thais and Cambodians

“The recent border dispute regarding the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site causes strong continuing protests from some organizations and people in Thailand, which led to a confrontative situation between people of both countries.

“As professors involved in studies on Southeast Asia, we want to confirm that the source of this border dispute relates to the historical and cultural heritages of Thailand and of Cambodia. Truth can be found, if explanations of historical evidence are made by following the facts, and this should not be done to serve any political goals.

“According to this, we would like to suggest the following:

  1. “As for the Preah Vihear Temple, we absolutely support the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the Netherlands of 15 May 1962, which confirmed that ‘the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.’
  2. “We support and we publish intense discussions about related problems, and the provision of information should not be used to cause discrimination or to create enemies between the countries on both sides of the border, which might lead to war.
  3. “We acknowledge that also other countries in the region have the common cultures and common histories. These links should be used as the basis for international cooperation, to protect the honor of peoples, and for the union between country and country, especially for addressing universal problems happening similarly to all countries in the region.
  4. “We have advised that action should be taken to solve this dispute through coordination and mutual commitment. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations should take up this idea in order to reach a common goal.

“We would like to urge professors, parents, the press, students, and the Cambodian and Thai people to call for a peaceful solution of this dispute, by upholding the respect for the territory of all countries in Southeast Asia as the basis.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4657, 2.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 1 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1709, 2.7.2008

  • The King [Norodom Sihamoni] and [Father King] Samdech Euv and [former Queen] Samdech Mae Went to Visit China [to attend the Olympic Games and to have medical checkups – 1 August 2008]
  • [Former Khmer Rouge minister of foreign affairs] Ieng Sary [age 82] Was Sent to Hospital [after blood was discovered in his urine, 1 August 2008], and [former chief of the Tuol Sleng prison] Duch Will Be Sentenced in September [according to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia spokesperson Mr. Reach Sambath]
  • H.E. Bun Rany Hun Sen Prayed for the ancestral spirits to defend Preah Vihear at the Preah Vihear Temple [on 1 August 2008]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #213, 2.8.2008

  • A Government Can Be Dictatorial, but a National Assembly Cannot Become a Dictatorial National Assembly [said opposition party president Sam Rainsy on 1 August 2008]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #63, 2.8.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen: If the Sam Rainsy Party Does Not Attend the [inaugural] Meeting of Parliament [on 24 September 2008], [the 26] Seats [of the Sam Rainsy Party] Will Be Distributed to Other Parties [the Prime Minster warned the Sam Rainsy Party not to use Article 76 of the Constitution which states that the Assembly consists of at least 120 members, for the new National Assembly to start its process]
  • Garment Products of Cambodia Will Be Difficult to Export [because orders for buying decline, capital necessary for production increases, and there is strong competition with other countries such as Vietnam, China, India, and Bangladesh – according to Ms. Kaing Monika, official in charge of the administration of external affairs of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia]
  • The Number of [Foreign] Tourists Still Continues to Rise [although Cambodia is having a dispute with Thailand – according to Mr. Kong Sophearak, head of the Department of Statistics and Tourist Information of the Ministry of Tourism; in the first six months of 2008, there were 1,098,236 tourists, which is a 12.6% increase compared with the same period of 2007, with only 975,349 tourists]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6413, 2-3.8.2008

  • The US Embassy Assessed that the Election in Cambodia Was Conducted Better than Previous Elections [although there were irregularities]
  • More Than 79,000 Student Candidates Will Take the High School Diploma Examinations Countrywide This Year [on 4 August 2008]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3528, 2-3.8.2008

  • Siam [Thailand] Still Continues to Deploy Troops along the Preah Vihear Temple Region Borders, and Two Cannons Still Point at the Preah Vihear Temple
  • After the Election, Land Disputes Occur Again and Citizens Wait for Hun Sen to Solve Them

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4657, 2.8.2008

  • An Open Letter from Professors in the Field of the Studies about Southeast Asia Expressed Concerns about the Preah Vihear Temple
  • The Government Spends Nearly US$30 per Student Who Takes the High School Diploma Examination [according to Mr. Chreng Limsry, Directorate of Secondary Education; the government spent approximately Riel 9,000 million (approx. US$2,250,000) in total]
  • The Ministry of Water Resource Has an Irrigation System That Can Deliver Water Directly [without using pumps – using the force of gravity] to More Than 40% of the 2.3 Million Hectares Cultivated [according to Mr. Chan Yutha, chief of cabinet of the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology]

Click here to have a look at the last Mirror editorial – where we provided detailed information about the 2003 election results, to compare them with the election results of 2008, as they become available.

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