Preah Vihear – Who Said What and Why – Sunday, 1.8.2010

Posted on 4 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

When the media in both countries – Cambodia and Thailand – quote various sources to make conflicting claims, it is again an occasion to try to mirror these sources and leave it to our readers to draw their conclusions.

As ever, such a statement is always combined with the invitation to point out if the sources we quote are misquoted, or if there is an important reference missing. But it is not convincing to accuse the writer of this documentation simply to be wrong without showing substantive evidence, as happens sometimes. What follows is all based on publicly available documents. But as this case is complex, the following text is long; maybe a lot of confusion comes from not reading the texts. The pieces presented here were selected in the hope that some quick negative conclusions – not based on available texts, either disregarding, or even contradicting them – can be clarified. All this is written, to quote words from the final agreements negotiated by Senior Minister Sok An with representatives of Thailand and UNESCO before the decisive meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July 2008 – in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation – as it is stated in the final joint document before the 2008 decisions.

The Early History

Going back in history is often necessary to clarify facts. But their meaning may have changed over time. As a German, I know that there was a time when the Germans considered that Karl der Grosse, crowned in the year 800 – not long before the temple of Preah Vihear was started to be built – is at the beginning of our German history, while also the French considered Charlemagne as their’s. Actually, at his time, he ruled over large parts of western and central Europe, not over France or Germany as they exist now. But since the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman – a French with a good German name – took the initiative in 1950 to create again common political entities in Europe – the European Union – we have almost forgotten the old historical and emotional divides.

There is a long pre-history for the present history of the Preah Vihear conflicts. But for the discussion of the present situation, it may be enough to start in 1962, when the International Court of Justice in The Hague came to the conclusion that it …FINDS THAT THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR IS SITUATED IN TERRITORY UNDER THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CAMBODIA.

Cambodian comments often go further back. Maybe this is not necessary, as the 1962 court ruling is not questioned by the political leadership of the governments of both sides, in spite of the fact that this is often disregarded or denied.

It is not surprising that some people, even some people with a wide group of supporters, have taken different positions. The present government of Thailand accepts the 1962 verdict. Whoever doubts this, should provide quotable evidence. Last week, after a group of Thai nationalists had demonstrated in front of the UNESCO office in Bangkok on 27.7.2010, rejecting any discussion of the status of Preah Vihear by the World Heritage Committee, the Thai prime minister invited representatives of the People’s Alliance for Democracy – PAD, widely overlapping in membership with the “Yellow-Shirts” – to clarify where he does not agree, and where he agrees with them. “The PAD wanted an end to the Thai-Cambodia Memorandum of Understanding, because it ‘turned a Thai territory into a disputed territory.’ But Abhisit thought that the MOU turned a territory that Cambodia thought to belong to them, to become a disputed territory. The PAD wanted the government to boycott the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil, because attending the meeting would signify that Thailand accepted the listing of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, and only disagreed with the temple’s management plan. But for the Thai prime minister, it is exactly the present management plan which he did not want to see accepted.

To disregard this point is obviously confusing, not clarifying, the state of affairs.

Or is it this way of interpreting the MOU – the Joint Communique – assumed to by the Thai prime minister’s one, also a reason why the media in Cambodia never published the Joint Communique (details further down), neither in Khmer nor in English? It is difficult to understand why such an important document, including a new Cambodian draws map, which was discussed in parliament in Thailand, was not – at that time or later – presented also to the Cambodian public.

The Preparations toward the Listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear

The inscription into the World Heritage List was first proposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the UNESCO Director General on 10 October 2001. The necessary detailed documentation was submitted on 20 January 2006. The Cambodian Nomination File was considered by the next session of the World Heritage committee, meeting from 23 June to 2 July 2007 in Christchurch/New Zealand.

Some of the detailed discussions and decisions of the World Heritage Committee may be surprising, as they are very practically oriented, according to the purpose of the World Heritage List, as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. It is not about national interests, but about culture as “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.”

Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage… is situated, and without prejudice to property right provided by national legislation, the States Parties to this Convention recognize that such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate. (Article 6.1).

The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction over which is claimed by more than one State, shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute. (Article 11.3).

Therefore the Draft Summary Record of the decisions from the 2007 meeting show that the concerns of the World Heritage Committee are of an eminently practical nature, as the purpose of any listings is to make the cultural heritage of the world easily accessible. The notes from the Committee show this clearly:

Having taken note of the willingness to collaborate for the safeguarding of the property of the Sacred Temple of Preah Vihear, expressed by the States Parties of Cambodia and Thailand in the framework of the meetings of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, Requests the State Party of Cambodia to implement, in close co-operation with the neighboring Government of Thailand, detailed arrangements for the conservation of the property, based on the principles expressed by the two States Parties at the 5th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, especially in respect of:

a) Joint management;
b) The continued open border;
c) Mine clearance;
d) Protection of the natural forest areas surrounding the property, especially of small areas where burning has been recently observed on the Cambodian territory.

The formal decision from 2007 states not details, but simply the procedure to be followed:


The State Party of Cambodia and the State Party of Thailand are in full agreement that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear has Outstanding Universal Value and must be inscribed on the World Heritage List as soon as possible.
Accordingly, Cambodia and Thailand agree that Cambodia will propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand…
The World Heritage Committee, further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2008.

As a result of the understanding achieved at the 2007 meeting, preparations for 2008 started, marked by a number of joint Cambodian-Thai agreements and declarations. They are all quoted in the very large 2008 Submission Document:





THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR
Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO)

Edited by the Council of Ministers

PHNOM PENH
JUNE 2008

This document, presented to the public in the name of the Council of Ministers, in English (later, before the World Heritage Committee Meeting, it was also made available in Arab, French, and Spanish), presents the positive common experiences on the way to the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, saying:

In a spirit of friendship, neighborliness and mutual understanding between the two countries, the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand have been working together in recent months to strengthen dialogue and consultation in a number of areas of mutual interests. These fruitful developments focus in particular on inscribing the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR on the World Heritage List in 2008. Thailand has confirmed its decision, as expressed at the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Christchurch (New Zealand, 23 June to 2 July 2007), to support the inscription of the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear.

These confirmations were made:

1

Firstly, by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, His Excellency Mr. Samak Sundaravej, on the occasion of his visit to Phnom Penh on 3 and 4 March 2008 at the invitation of His Excellency Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia

2

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand accompanied by a Thai delegation during their visit to Phnom Penh. The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

3

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers and a Thai Delegation led by His Excellency Mr. Noppadon Pattama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand in the presence of a number of UNESCO eminent members, led by Her Excellency the Deputy Director General of UNESCO for Culture, Mrs. Françoise RIVIERE. The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For it part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple

This wording became part of the JOINT COMMUNIQUE of 18 June 2008, a joint Cambodian-Thai-UNESCO declaration, the last common step towards the World Heritage Committee meeting on 8 July 2008.






JOINT COMMUNIQUE

On 22 May 2008, a meeting took place between H.E. Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia and H.E. Mr. Noppadon Pattama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, to continue their discussion regarding the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List. The meeting was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in the presence of Mrs. Françoise Rivière, Assistant Director General for Culture of UNESCO, Ambassador Francesco Caruso, Mr. Azedine Beschaouch, Mrs. Paola Leoncini Bartoli and Mr. Giovanni Boccardi. The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:


  1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Quebec, Canada, July 2008), 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. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.
  2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, 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.
  3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schema Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;
  4. Pending the results of the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) concerning the northern and western areas surrounding the Temple of Preah Vihear, which are identified as N. 3 in the map mentioned in paragraph 1 above, the management plan of these areas will be prepared in a concerted manner between the Cambodian and Thai authorities in conformity with the international conservation standards with a view to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property. Such management plan will be included in the final management plan for the Temple and its surrounding areas to be submitted to the World Heritage Center by 1st February 2010 for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;
  5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries; 6. The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand express their profound appreciation to the Director-General of UNESCO, H.E. Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, for his kind assistance in facilitating the process towards the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List.

Phnom Penh, 18 June 2008               Bangkok, 18 June 2008

For the Royal Government For the Government of the Kingdom

of Cambodia, of Thailand, (signed) (signed) Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers Paris, 18 June 2008 Representative of the UNESCO (signed) Assistant Director-General for Culture



Cambodian Joint Communique Map



There had been some final problems: The Cambodian side, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Senior Minister in Charge of Border Affairs Var Kimhong – “in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation” – negotiated and made incisive decisions (having the former Cambodian map as well as graphic references, referring to the 1962 decisions “superseded” by the new Cambodian side map presented here, declaring that 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” – all this without much discussion in the Cambodian public. On the other side, however, the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs was instructed by the Constitutional Court of Thailand that the government would need, for such decision, the authorization by the Thai parliament.

In spite of these last minute reservations, the World Heritage Committee declared the Temple of Preah Vihear a World Heritage site. Instead of peaceful continued cooperation, confrontation and violence followed.

As far as we were able to monitor the Khmer media, the Joint Communique, and the appended map, were never published in the Cambodia press. Neither were the conditions published, which accompanied the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear. The Decisions of the World Heritage Committee, meeting from 2 to 10 July 2008 in Quebec/Canada, state the following (excerpts):


“The World Heritage Committee,


  1. Recalling Decision 31 COM 8B.24, which recognized ‘that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear is of great international significance and has Outstanding Universal Value on the basis of criteria (i), (iii) and (iv), and agreed in principle that it should be inscribed on the World Heritage List’,

  1. Recognizing that the Joint Communique signed on 18 June 2008 by the representatives of the Governments of Cambodia and Thailand, as well as by UNESCO, including its draft which was erroneously referred to as having been signed on 22 and 23 May 2008 in the document WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add.2, must be disregarded, following the decision of the Government of Thailand to suspend the effect of the Joint Communique, pursuant to the Thai Administrative Court’s interim injunction on this issue,

  1. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;

  1. Encourages Cambodia to collaborate with Thailand for safeguarding the value of the property, in view of the fact that peoples of the surrounding region have long treasured the Temple of Preah Vihear,…

  1. Inscribes the Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia, on the World Heritage List…

  1. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards;

  1. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents:

a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property
c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan.

These requirements – to convene an international coordinating committee, to cooperate with the Thai government, to provide a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the Cambodian government – were, according to our monitoring of the press in Cambodia, never published, nor any information about the content of reports submitted by the Cambodian side. Quite to the contrary, and surprisingly, a highly placed spokesperson at the Cambodian Council of Ministers, distanced himself from the results achieved by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, claiming that “there is no buffer zone,” and ‘there is nothing to be negotiated with Thailand.”



After a year of tensions, confrontations, and occasional fighting, the World Heritage Committee, meeting in Sevilla/Spain from 22 June to 30 June 2009, could not do much more than the following; it

Requests the State Party [of Cambodia] to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2010, a report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations by the Committee in its Decision 32 COM 8B.102 [2008 in Quebec/Canada], for the examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.” The decision 32 COM 8B.102 is the one which requests, as stated above, “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners…

In spite of these clear requests by the World Heritage Committee for cooperation, the Thai government declared, even some days before the recent meeting in Brazil, that they had not received any invitation to cooperate, nor information about the Cambodian submission. As a result, representatives of the Thai government, up to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, stated that Thailand could not accept a decision about a management plan, though Thailand would have had to be involved in its consideration, if previous recommendations of the World Heritage Committee would have been implemented.



On the other hand, there were various statements from the Cambodian side – quite different from the spirit of friendship and conciliation, which had been regularly invoked in former joint statements. The following is published especially because it is so different from the attitude in which Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of the Council of Ministers, had brought forward the process toward the listing of Preah Vihear in 2008. Under the date 29.6.2010, the Spokesman & Deputy Director, Office of the Council of Ministers’ Press Department, distributed an opinion text widely to many members of the media, written by Pen Ngoeun, Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers, member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers – with the following qualifying note: “This article represents only the personal opinion of the writer, and does not reflect under any shape and form the opinion of the PRU nor that of the Office of the Council of Ministers. Considering the way of its distribution and the pubic positions of the author and of the person who distributed the text, and its timing, it seem to be worth while to quote some sections from it:



29 June 2010


OPINION
WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END:


Will it end one day, and soon enough, after 150 years of its happening? Cambodia had nothing to do with it.


Its source was the failure of Siam King Mong Kut and his ministers. Colonel F. Bernard, President of the French Commission for the delimitation of the French-Siamese border in virtue of the Convention of 13 February 1904 had made an observation about the Thais, which is worth remembered. He said: “the superiority of their self-esteem was the primary cause of their troubles and misfortune… He wrote in a book published in 1933, “L’Ecole des Diplomates, within the context of the Thai diplomacy during the reign of king Mong Kut of Thailand, the reign of King Ang Duong of Cambodia and the mission of M. de Montigny, the plenipotentiary of the French Emperor Napoleon III to the court of King Mong Kut. Colonel F. Bernard had mentioned as well that: “The ministers of Siam have had negotiated for a long time already with England and America; they have the intelligence and the ability of the Westerners, which obviously had made them to acquire that “superiority of their self-esteem” which is equated in recent times to “arrogance” and “condescension” which are the current state of mind of the government of Abhisit Vijjajeva, with “former terrorist” turned foreign minister Kasit Pyromya, and the malicious and machiavellic [deputy prime minister] Suthep Thaugsuban at his sides… In 1853 King Ang Duong of Cambodia wrote a letter to the French Emperor Napoleon III to express his friendship and solicit his support. The immediate consequence of which had been to stop the armies of Siam from marching at will into Cambodia to conquest and ravage the many provinces of Cambodia to the West and North, and to relieve Cambodia from paying tributes to Bangkok. Siam, now Thailand always acts like a hungry mad dog that missed a good piece of meat and had never stopped dreaming about it, since…

The arrogance, the condescension, and the obstinacy which cause the failure of King Mong Kut and his ministers from executing the annexation policy by annihilating Cambodia and her people create an endless nostalgia that Thailand had never allowed itself to wake up and liberate itself from the bad dream of the hungry mad dog. Therefore, Thailand’s territorial ambition on Cambodian territories has become its grand design to be executed by the government of Thailand if any of such a government wishes to have a reasonable life span. From then on, Thailand has learn, acquired, and mastered the art of distortion of the facts, dissemination of misinformation and disinformation, the art of accusation, of denial with arrogance, condescension and obstinacy… In 1954, not even a mere one year after Cambodia acquired full independence from France, Thai armed forces occupied the Temple of Preah Vihear, to be ordered out by the international will, the LaHaye ICJ Judgments of 15 June 1962. Finally, Thailand has made official, its territorial ambition on Cambodian territories in 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee by presenting for the first time to such an important international gathering a map dressed up unilaterally and secretly by Thailand and thus laying claim on an area of 4.6 km sq. inside the Cambodian territory near the Temple of Preah Vihear, as an objection of various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List. Again, Thailand’s arrogance, condescension, and obstinacy were its primary troubles and misfortune. In 2008, the Temple of Preah Vihear was inscribed unanimously on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee…

And again, some sections of another opinion piece, from the same origin, distributed in the same way, on 13.7.2010:

Thailand plans to oppose a management plan for the Preah Vihear temple while overlapping territory nearby remains subject to dispute, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya says. Cambodia does not have “an overlapping territory” with Thailand. There was a claim by Thailand that uses the unilateral map in similar fashion as the Nazis (led by Hitler) and the Fascists (led by Mussolini) for the purpose sending troops to invade and occupy foreign territory.

One cannot be sure if this is an attack against Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, or whether Mr. Pen Ngoeun, though he is an Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers, a member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers, does not know that the documents, elaborated with great care by the Deputy Prime Minister, spell out in detail the buffer zones, otherwise referred to as overlapping territories, and it was the Cambodian side, that presented a map to “supersede” the formerly used maps, relating to the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice.

To make sure that Kasit does not bang his head too much against the wall from trying to come up with new innuendo, suggestion and speculation, here is a crude fact to chew: The Temple of Preah Vihear has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 2008. Kasit need to pick up the WHC 32 COM 8B. 102 and read it… It is clear from a few sentences above, that Cambodia has implemented the requirements of the World Heritage Committee – WHC – and has conformed herself to the procedures set forth by the Committee. And NOT to leave the door wide open for speculation and mind twisting, Deputy permanent secretary for culture Somsuda Leyananija has the task to tell the truth, as to why… Let’s play the game, fair and square in conformity with the WHC rules and procedures.

It s reported that Cambodia had submitted a progress report to the World Heritage Secretariat, but two weeks before the meeting in Brazil, it had neither be distributed to the members of the committee, it had not been shared with Thailand – in spite of the recommendation by the World Heritage Committee that Cambodia should seek such cooperation – and its content had also not been made available to the public in Cambodia. None of the UNESCO and World Heritage Committee Press Releases, which describe in detail the many decisions taken recently in Brazil, make any reference to Preah Vihear. But the fact that the Cambodian report was forwarded again to next year’s meeting – similarly to what had been done also from 2009 to 2010 – is now reported in Cambodia as a big victory for Cambodia. Asked about his comment, the Thai prime minister said: “Please find out and read the resolution yourself.”

The official Cambodian side acted differently: within 4 hours, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers issued two long statements on 2.8.2010, a “Summary” about the Brazil session, mainly referencing questions of the conservation of the site without reference to any past action taken by the formerly requested joint international elaboration of plans, and some hours later a “Clarification,” stressing that “it was Cambodia who has achieved immense victory,” because the World Heritage Committee:

Takes note that the World Heritage Center has the documents submitted by the State Party;
Further welcomes the steps taken by the State Party towards the establishment of an international coordinating committee for the sustainable conservation of the Temple of Preah Vihear’
Decides to consider the documents submitted by the State Party at its 35th session in 2011.

These are the officially recorded successes. The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers adds, however, some remarks about a Thai “intoxication campaign” against the Cambodian management plan, a campaign which “was a total debacle because Thailand had no substantive arguments.” The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers presented its own arguments as follows:

On the contrary, the Thai intoxication campaigns’ spending of B10 millions with the dispatch of 50 delegates in order to oppose the management plan at the site of the Cambodian Temple of Preah Vihear, was a total debacle because Thailand had no substantive arguments against the World Heritage Centre Report of the two documents submitted by Cambodia. Moreover, Thailand has failed in its efforts to have the Temple inscribed by the two countries, and has failed in its efforts to have joint management of the Temple.

The Press and Quick Reaction unit of the Office of Council of Ministers notes that the signing of the Compromise Decision 34 COM, 7B.66 by Cambodia, Thailand, and witnessed by the Chairperson for the 34th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Brazil clearly affirmed the recognition by all parties concerned of the official documents concerning the Management Plan for the conservation and sustainable development at the site of the Cambodian Temple of Preah Vihear, which had never been recognized previously.

It is obvious that the intoxication campaign by the Thai Government to lure the local and international public opinion has adversely damaged its own image and credit as an old saying which goes “If you fan the flame, you blow up the fire or As you sow, so shall you reap.”

To underline further the failure of the Thai Government, it must be stressed for the benefits of the public and international opinion that it is not like what the Thai Government claimed that it had succeeded to “postpone”the Management Plan to next year. In fact, the WHC final decision did not mention either about the terms Postpone – Defer or Delay but choose to use the wording Consider which means that the documents submitted by Cambodia, namely the Progress Report on the State of Conservation and Development of Preah Vihear and its Management Plan, were officially received by WHC and will consider it at the next session.

Much information is available – what will be the next steps? One journalist suggests that “facing reality” may be the only way out, and this includeds new open, mutual talking, again “in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation”

Part of the reality is also geography.

The Temple of Preah Vihear

The Temple of Preah Vihear

This picture provides a view over the Temple of Preah Vihear: 500 meters down, to the left, is the landscape of the Cambodian Province of Preah Vihear; the temple lies at a different level, high above the plain. Until mid 2008, it was easily accessible for thousands of tourists, approaching the Temple of Preah Vihear from the Thai side, on the right of the picture, from the Khao Pra Viharn National Park.

After all, a World Heritage Site is according, to the UNESCO World Heritage concept, “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.”






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Samdech Hun Sen: Chinese Aid Helps Strengthen the Independence of Cambodia – Thursday, 24.6.2010

Posted on 27 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, said that Chinese aid not only helps with the development of Cambodia, but it also helps strengthen the independence of Cambodia.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said so to the delegation of the Chinese People’s Army led by Lieutenant General Chi Wan Chun, Political Commissar of the General Armament Department of the Ministry of Defense of China in the evening of 23 June 2010 at the Council of Ministers.

“The minister in charge of accompanying the Prime Minister’s delegation, Mr. Sri Thamrong, told reporters after the meeting that Samdech Hun Sen had said that China has assisted Cambodia a lot, both with grant aid, and with loans including with loans without interest, to help restore and develop Cambodia. That aid not only assists Cambodia with the development, but also consolidates the national independence of Cambodia.

“Lieutenant General Chi Wan Chun told Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen that his visit to Cambodia at this time is to implement two obligations. The first, he was ordered by the Chinese President, Mr. Hu Jintao, to deliver 257 military trucks to Cambodia as soon as possible, also guaranteeing their 100% quality. The second task is to strengthen cooperation between both countries, especially between the troops of the two countries.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that the quick implementation, like with the speed of a rocket – of Mr. Hu Jintao’s order within 48 days, shows the good relation and cooperation between the countries, the governments, the people, and the troops of both countries.

“Lieutenant General Chi Wan Chun considers Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen as a good and real friend of the Chinese people, especially because he firmly adheres to the One-China-Policy.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen again confirmed the position of the Royal Government of Cambodia that it is the clear political position of Cambodia, since the time of the former King, and it continues for the current Royal Government of Cambodia, to adhere to the One-China-Policy without any change.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5232, 24.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 24 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #512, 24.6.2010

  • The Vietnamese President: Cambodia and Vietnam Have Good Cooperation [he said so during the private visit to Vietnam by Samdech Euv (the former King), Samdech Mae (the former Queen), and the present King]
  • The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization [NEDO] of Japan Plans to Implement Two Projects in Cambodia [setting up of modern rice milling machines at the community level, and producing clean water]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2283, 24.6.2010

  • Japan Provides Grant Aid [of about US$131 million] to Finish the Construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge [across the Mekong River on National Road 1 from Phnom Penh to Vietnam] before February 2015
  • An American Federal Court Convicted [the leader of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters – CFF] Chhun Yasith – to Life Imprisonment [for conducting an (unsuccessful) attack to overthrow the Cambodian government – on 23 and 24 July 2002, there was armed attack in Phnom Penh by the CFF to overthrow the government; during this attempt, three members of the CFF were killed, and some others were arrested; some members of the armed forces of the government and some common citizens were injured]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #689, 24.6.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: I Am Not Worried about the Warrant of the Yuon [Vietnamese] Puppet Court, as It Is a Problem of the Whole Nation [the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has published an arrest warrant for him, over the accusation of faking public documents and of spreading misinformation]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6990, 24.6.2010

  • The Ministry of Labor Published Books with Instructive Policies for the Prevention of AIDS/HIV [to promote knowledge about HIV/AIDS]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3914, 24.6.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Encourages Factory Owners to Provide Wages to Workers Who Had a Forced Work Stoppage during the Inauguration of the Sky Road [constructed to reduce traffic jams; the owner of the TACFAT factory does not want to provide them wages for the time of work stoppage – and announced to welcome if workers report this to related institutions, and especially to the Ministry of Labor – Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #200, 24.6.2010

  • A Cambodian Official [the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong] Welcomes the Conviction of Chhun Yasith to Jail for Life for Attempting to Overthrow the Cambodian Government
  • The First Sky Road in Cambodia [built to relieve the traffic jam at the Kbal Thnol Roundabout, spending about US$7 million] Will Be Inaugurated This Morning

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5232, 24.6.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Chinese Aid Helps Strengthen the Independence of Cambodia
  • Thailand Arrested More Than 200 Khmer Citizens, Accusing Them of Creating a Village in Thailand [in the district of Aranyaprathet, in the province of Srakeo, 4 km from the Cambodian-Thai border]
  • The Sydney University of Australia Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Culture to Conduct Archaeology Studies in Preah Vihear

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A Senior Official of the Government Rejects the Summons to Appear at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 17.6.2010

Posted on 17 June 2010. Filed under: Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Phnom Penh: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, rejected a warrant from a co-investigating judge of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, who called some high ranking officials of the Royal Government to appear as witnesses. The rejection was made public on 15 June 2010 during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said that he had already received the warrant from a co-investigating judge requesting him to be a witness. He added that, as Mr. Marcel Lemonde knows well, he was a prisoner, but he will not respond to the summons for legal reasons. According to the agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, a summons should have two signatures, both from one Khmer and from one foreign co-investigating judge.

Note:

Repeated from The Mirror of 10.6.2010 to explain that there had been two signatures, but one got crossed out later:

Disagreement among Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The Cambodia Daily added on 10 June 2010 that Mr. Marcel Lemonde stated that the letter to start further investigations waited for three weeks to be signed. Then Mr. You Bonleng signed it.

The Cambodia Daily then quotes Mr. You Bonmleng’s letter from 8 June 2010:

  • “Throughout the process of reflection on your proposal and the ultimatum you imposed on me, I had thought that it seemed time to take action as part of cases 003 and 004; I therefore signed the draft rogatory letters on Friday, 4 June 2010.
  • However, upon more attentive and deeper consideration of the question, I think that it is not yet opportune to take action in cases 003 and 004.
  • So I permit myself to return to you the draft rogatory letters containing your signature, mine being crossed out, and we shall contemplate discussion on any measures concerning cases 003 and 004 in the month of September 2010.”

“Mr. Hor Namhong added, ‘Mr. Marcel Lemonde is a person from the legal field, but he himself does not respect the law as he signed this document alone.’ Therefore, as a member of the Royal Government that negotiated with the United Nations and signed the agreement between the government and the United Nations about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, he cannot breach the agreement to follow Mr. Marcel Lemonde.

“Recently, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had issued a warrant to invite leaders of the government to be witnesses in order to put further burden on the five former Khmer Rouge leaders in detention at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6984, 17.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 17 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1444, 17-18.6.2010

  • A Military Police Officer Was Fatally Shot by an Unknown Person in Front of the Reatrei Singapore Restaurant [Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #506, 17.6.2010

  • [UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia] Surya Subedi Praised Cambodia over [the efforts to conduct] Judicial Reform

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2277, 17.6.2010

  • [The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony Announced there Will Be a Three Days Demonstration from 13 to 15 July [to ask for an increase of workers’ salaries, and to demand that the owner of the TACFAT garment factor has to obey the labor law]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #683, 17.6.2010

  • The Declaration of Property through Closed and Sealed Letters Might Be a Play of the Ruling Party [all members of the newly created National Anti-Corruption Council are required to declare their property]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6984, 17.6.2010

  • A Senior Official of the Government Rejects the Summons to Appear at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Two Men Were Killed by Lightnings in Kompong Cham and Kompong Thom within the Same Half Hour

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #195, 17.6.2010

  • This Year the Number of People Killed by Lightning Dropped [during 5 months, there were 53 deaths, compared to the same period in 2009, when there were 73 deaths]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5226, 17.6.2010

  • Germany Promised to Grant More Aid [Euro 400,000, approx. US$500,000 to the Victims’ Unit of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] to Encourage the Participation by More Victims in the Hearing of Khmer Rouge Leaders
  • Japanese Businesspeople and Investors Come to Study Investment Possibilities in Cambodia

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The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions – Saturday, 12.6.2010

Posted on 12 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to issue a sub-decree soon about the rate of disabled people that should be employed at state institutions, companies, factories, and enterprises.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Mr. Sem Sokha, said in the evening of 11 June 2010 that the sub-decree had already been checked by the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council, and it will then be sent to relevant ministries, and finally to a cabinet meeting.

“Mr. Sem Sokha added that the sub-decree will be released soon, because also Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen wants it to be issued soon in order to help handicapped people to work at state and private institutions.

“Mr. Sem Sokha mentioned some contents of the sub-decree, which states that state institutions are required to employ at least 2% disabled people [among their total personnel] who have sufficient qualifications, while private companies, factories, and enterprises are required to recruit 1%.

“When he was asked what actions would be taken, if any state or private institutions do not adhere to the sub-decree, he explained that they will be fined to pay 50% of the salary of the civil servants they would have to hire. That means if a ministry is required to employ two or three disabled people but do not employ them, they have to pay 50% of their salaries as a fine. He added that for companies, factories, and enterprises, they will be charged 40% of the staff salary. According to a demographic study in 2004, 4% of the population are disabled.

“Mr. Sem Sokha said that when the sub-decree becomes valid, disabled people will receive full rights to live integrated in society and especially they can work at different state and private institutions like normal people.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 12 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #502, 12.6.2010

  • A CRV [“compact recreational vehicle”] Car Struck a Motorbike, Killing Two people and Injuring Three Others Seriously and Lightly [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

  • The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions
  • The USS Tortuga (LSD 46) Warship of the United State of America Began [for the first time also a] Cambodia Phase of CARAT Exercises [Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, begun in 1995, after Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand were involved already in the past]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #680, 12.6.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Hopes that There Will Be a Political Solution for Him [he was convicted over the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng; now he is abroad]
  • A Petition Was Sent to the US President to Ask Him to Condemn the Supreme Court of Cambodia and the Cambodian Government over the Prosecution of Ms. Mu Sochua [regarding the defamation case of Prime Minister Hun Sen which is a sign of the restriction of the freedom of expression. There is no information given which institution or group organized it – it is just stated that thumb prints and signature were collected by people supporting the petition]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6980, 12-13.6.2010

  • Japan Announced to Grant US$131 Million Development Aid to Cambodia Each Year for Three Years
  • A Twelve Seater Car Tire Burst and the Car Overturned, Resulting in Three Deaths and Six Injured People [Kompong Cham]
  • Lightnings Killed Three Persons and Injured Another in the Kong Meas and Dambae Districts after Two Days of Continuing Rain

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3904, 12-13.6.2010

  • Leaders from 46 Countries in Asia and Europe Will Meet in Brussels [on 14 July to prepare the upcoming 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5222, 12.6.2010

  • The Forestry Heads of Three Provinces [Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, and Oddar Meanchey] Were Reshuffled while the Iron Fist Campaign Is Still Being Implemented Strictly
  • The Authorities Chased a Car Loaded with Ebony, Driven by a Kompong Thom Police Major; Because He Was Scared, He Ran into the Soth Nikum District Police Station [the car driver and his wife were arrested – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodia [through the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers] Rejected the Findings of the Corporate Council (?) based in England Which Indicate that Peace in Cambodia Is Deteriorating

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Improving Communication by Communicating – Sunday, 6.6.2010

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”

There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.

To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.

Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”

That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.

What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.

This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.

There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.

The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.

One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]

Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?

  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence]

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?

  • 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]

We will read it in the press.

And here is a variety of related observations:

An interesting source of income for the state reported:

  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.

The President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.

The result:

  • 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]

And finally a dilemma:

  • The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]

Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.

Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:

  • Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand

He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.

Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.

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Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected – Thursday, 3.6.2010

Posted on 4 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Government officials and donors met on Wednesday in Phnom Penh for the [third] Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum. During the forum, the donors appealed to the government to speed up key reforms tied to the provision of aid. More than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations attend the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum with plans to grant aid before the meeting ends on Thursday. Officials of the Cambodian government expect that the government will get the envisaged aid of US$1 billion.

“During the speech to open the forum, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform. He said, ‘The Royal Government has made its utmost effort to firmly and deeply implement various reform programs and consider them a “life or death” issue for Cambodia.’

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities,’

“During the closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the delegations discussed the National Strategic Development Plan Update for 2009-2013 of the government, as well as the policies to ensure the macroeconomic stability during this time of a global economic crisis. In December 2008, Cambodia received pledges of US$951.5 million, compared to US$650 million in June 2007.

“The spokesperson of the Royal Government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said after the meeting on Wednesday that the meeting went smoothly and there were not any objections from donors. He said, ‘I don’t know how much money the government will receive from donor countries this year, but I estimate it will reach our expectations.’

“Also, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, said that the aid tendency keeps increasing, and the requirement of the government will rise to as much as US$1 billion in 2010.

“The Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum has been analyzed carefully in the past few weeks, and local and international non-government organizations called on the donors to press the government to fulfill the agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply the Joint Monitoring Indicators. Fifteen local non-government organizations said in a document released on Tuesday, ‘It is not enough to throw money at problems and hope the ruling party will act in the interest of the people.’

“A report released on Monday by Global Witness suggested that the donors should take ‘a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.’

“An advisor of the government, Mr. Raoul Jennar, said during the forum that the government and the donors have been successful in cooperating to create new laws, and he hopes that the donors will provide strong support during the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum. He said, ‘The government has made many achievements in recent years where more than 260 laws have been adopted during the previous decade. The problem is that development needs highly skilled human resources; this is a problem that Cambodia is facing.’

“Other participants said that the government should care more about the involvement by civil society rather than focusing on foreign policy makers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 3 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1442, 3-4.6.2010

  • 2,000 Workers Strike in Kompong Chhnang [against their shoe factory owner, who is forcing them to work overtime]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #494, 3.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Are Still Defiant and Want to Visit the Border Marker Number 270 [in Takeo though the president of the National Assembly did not give them a permission for this visit]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2265, 3.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Aid provided by Development Partners Is a Very Important Contribution for the Development of Cambodia
  • The Cambodian and the Indonesian Governments Signed an Agreement to Mutually Waive Visa Fees for Normal Passport

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #672, 3.6.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Will Visit the Border Marker Number 270 Today

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6972, 3.6.2010

  • Ms. Mu Sochua Said that She Will Not Pay the Fine of Riel 16.5 Million [approx. US$4,000] in the Case She Lost [against Prime Minister Hun Sen over defamation], but She Would Rather Go to Jail [the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Appeals Court]
  • A Grenade Was Thrown at a Dancing Event, Resulting in One Death and Thirteen Injured People [perpetrators are not yet identified – Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Japanese Prime Minister [Mr. Hatoyama Yukio] Resigned from His Position after Staying in Office Less Than One Year

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3896, 3.6.2010

  • The National Bank of Cambodia Bought Riel Notes with US$3 Million to Support the Dwindling Value of the Riel [the present exchange rate is approx. US$1 to Riel 4,260]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

  • Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected
  • [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong: Cambodia Is too Lazy to Respond to Thailand over an Extradition Request for Mr. Thaksin [confirming that Cambodia will not honor an arrest warrant from Interpol to extradite Mr. Thaksin, though the Thai government plans to send it through Interpol to 187 countries]
  • Disabled People [through 150 representatives of 620 families of veterans from Kompong Cham] Protested in Front of the Prime Minister’s Residence [in Phnom Penh] over a Land Dispute [asking for intervention by Mr. Hun Sen to distribute 4,000 hectares of land to the ‘Association Cripple Development’ in Kratie, because on 24 April 2010, the provincial authorities claimed that the land belongs to private companies]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5224, 3.6.2010

  • Cambodia Denied It Has Provided Training Shelter in Cambodia for Thai Red-Shirt Armed Militants [a Thai military commander had commented that Thai red-shirt armed militants had been in Anlong Veng district, Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Asian Development Bank Grants US$2.2 Million for a Project to Assess the Impact of Legal Procedures of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council

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Fraud? International Cooperation for Transparency – Sunday, 25.4.2010

Posted on 26 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

Cambodia entered into many different international relations since the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia was promulgated in 1993 and a new phase of history for the country began. International integration was one of the main policy goals of the government – regaining the seat for Cambodia in the United Nations, which had been held by a representative of the Khmer Rouge until 1991, long after the Khmer Rouge had lost their grip on the country, establishing new diplomatic relations, gaining membership in ASEAN, in the World Trade Organization [WTO], etc., and entering into many bilateral agreements – with other governments, with international organizations like the Asia Development Bank, and with Non-Government Organizations through the Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Some of these agreements have consequences in detail, which were not all foreseen or discussed with those who are affected – for example: the membership in the WTO will require that copyrights of international companies for computer software will have to be enforced from 2013 onward, and the import of goods and services from other countries has to be liberalized. Though this may have difficult consequences for some sections of the Cambodian economy, other sectors welcome it.

During the past week, a five-year Accountability in Governance and Politics program, financed by the USA, was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the US Ambassador Carol A. Rodley, according to which the Cambodian government will cooperate, implementing specific projects, with the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. According to the nature of this program, international transparency will be necessarily be enhanced, even when this may relate to difficult challenges to be faced internationally.

What this can mean can be deducted from a difficult processes developing at present in the USA. Goldman Sachs – a full-service global investment banking and securities firm – one of the top financial institutions of the USA, is facing at present charges by 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”] of fraudulently having contributed to the wide breakdown of financial systems, by systematically entering into contract with people and companies who were supposed not to be able to pay back what they borrowed. To give a small-scale example: one internal e-mail, now leaked, says “I’ve managed to sell bonds to widows and orphans” making “some serious money” for the bank; one section manager made a profit of $1 billion for the bank – but then the whole system collapsed and needed much higher government assistance. The future will show how this will be handled.

Once international government agencies get involved, the chance of achieving real transparency is higher. Repeated corruption allegations raised, for example, by the non-government agency Global Witness in the UK were easily dismissed here as not coming from a government agency, without dealing with their specific documentations. They had also raised questions related to the role of the – then – head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, which were quickly and strongly rejected as “nonsense” and “lies” at that time, but recently he was removed from his position. The situation will be different in a case which is receiving ever more prominence recently.

The Australian Company BHP Billiton – “the world’s largest diversified natural resources company” – entered into a mineral exploration agreement with the Cambodian government in 2006 to explore for bauxite in Mondolkiri – unprocessed aluminum ore; parts of the exploration site, a 996-hectare mining concession, were in protected natural forest areas. It had also been announced that this was just for exploration, a decision could be found only later, as the transport of bauxite, or the production of aluminum which requires huge amounts of electricity, need further studies. But this plan was abandoned in 2009 because the studies had shown that bauxite mining in Mondolkiri would not be cost-effective.

But recently, during this month of April 2010, BHP Billiton announced that United States Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating corruption allegations which may relate to Cambodia, though this is not yet sure.

According to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the USA, a company which has made illegal payments, can be fined to pay “up to twice the benefit that it sought to obtain by making a corrupt payment,” and staff involved may have to serve five years in prison.

Neither the US Securities and Exchange Commission nor BHP Billiton has stated that there were actually illegal payments. But the present investigations are based on some reports dating back to 2007.

According to various sources on the Internet, the Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor had reported in the National Assembly at that time that the Prime Minister had informed him from Australia that BHP had paid US$2.5 million as “tea money” for the concession. BHP said, however, that this money was designated for a “social development fund” for health and education projects in Mondolkiri. According to other sources, BHP confirmed to have paid US$1 million to the government in 2006 to secure the concession agreement.

Later inquiries produced various incongruous pieces of information: that the money was not used, as designated, for health and education in Mondolkiri, but for irrigation in Pursat, and the records of the the Ministry of Economy and Finance show for 2006 only US$443,866 as income from mining concessions.

By Saturday, not only the US Securities and Exchange Commission was dealing with the BHP case, but also the UK Serious Fraud Office [“an independent Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption. We are part of the UK criminal justice system”].

A “social development fund” of the Cambodian government had also been mentioned before, in relation to substantial payments from Caltex, having obtained the right for off-shore oil exploration. While one government argument, why an NGO law is urgently needed, was the request to gain more transparency about social and development funds (which are, for NGOs, regularly audited by public auditing companies anyway), we have not seen any similar reporting so far about the government’s social development fund – its purpose, its administrative arrangements and it’s oversight bodies, and its assets and disbursements.

The Cambodia Daily carried on 24/25.4.2010 an article, “Precise Meaning of ‘Tea Money’ Up for Debate.” And Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, is quoted to have pointed to the new anti-corruption legislation which shows that the government is committed to “highlight transparency.” – He will surely be able to shed more light onto this affair.

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Mr. Hang Chakra Vowed to Continue to Write According to His Conscience as He Did Previously – Monday, 19.4.2010

Posted on 20 April 2010. Filed under: Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

“The editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok, Mr. Hang Chakra, has just been released from Prey Sar prison on Tuesday last week, a day ahead of the Khmer New Year, and he vowed that he will continue to publish his paper according to his conscience, constructively also criticizing the government.

“Mr. Hang Chakra told the Phnom Penh Post on Sunday, ‘I could not believe that I would be released a day ahead of the Khmer New Year. I am so happy that I can meet my family.’ Mr. Hang Chakra added that he will try to publish his Khmer Machas Srok papers again next week, after a suspension early this month due to financial reason, and he will continue to criticize the government with the attempt to constructively contribute to the nation and to fight corruption. He said, ‘I will continue to publish the paper with my conscience, to criticize corrupt people among government officials, to serve the readers and the society. I hope that the readers will still support me.’

“It should also be known that, before Hang Chakra had been released, he wrote a letter of apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen one month after he was convicted, and he promised that he will not write to accuse anyone of corruption without evidence, if he would be released.

“Mr. Hang Chakra is the editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok, a newspaper that has a tendency towards the Sam Rainsy Party. He was convicted to serve 12 months in prison, and he was fined to pay Riel 9 million (at present approx. US$2,200) on 26 June 2009, for defaming Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, after he had released several texts accusing cabinet officials of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of being involving in corruption without intervention.

“Mr. Hang Chakra denied he is related to the rumor that he is joining the Cambodian People’s Party and will stop criticizing the government. Mr. Hang Chakra clarified, ‘No institution can press me to change my conscience, as I spend my own money to publish my papers, and my paper is still alive because of our readers.’

“The head of the Criminal Department of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Pov Bunthouen told the Phnom Penh Post on Sunday that Mr. Hang Chakra was one of the 42 prisoners who were released earlier than expected who were on the list to be released, while the punishment of 119 others on the list will be reduced. He said, ‘We are preparing to organize a Visakh Bochea ceremony (on 28 April 2010). I have not yet checked all documents, and I expect that all those documents in the lists that will be checked after the ceremony.’” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #150-151, 12-14.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:

Monday, 19 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #486, 11-19.4.2010

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] Set Up New Plans to Boost the Economy [ASEAN leaders promised to cooperate to restore the economic and financial sectors by eliminating commercial protectionism and to open free markets]
  • Robbers Robbed a Jewelry Seller at the Canadia Market, Taking Away Nearly US$10,000 [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2225-2226, 11-19-.4.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Authorities Offer Two Options for 257 Families Whose Houses Were Burnt Down in Boeng Kak [they will be allowed to reconstruct houses on a plot of 3.9 by 5 meters at the burnt area, but the authorities will not provide them with land titles – or they can settle on a plot of 5 by 12 meter in Chaom Chau commune, Dangkao district where the authorities will provide them land title. So far, 165 agreed to take the 2nd option]
  • The Cambodian-Chinese Prek Kdam Bridge [across the Tonle Sap River in Kandal, constructed with a loan from China and US$28,783,644 from the Cambodian government] Was Opened for Traffic
  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Sent a Letter of Condolence at the Occasion of the Death of the Polish President [who was killed in plane crash]
  • Cambodia Asked the Head of ASEAN to Immediately Convene a Meeting to Reduce the Tensions in Thailand [but Thailand rejected it as previously usual for all members: No interference into internal affairs!]
  • Nearly 60 Cubic Meters of Luxury Grade Wood Found in Dangkao District, belonging to a [Kompong Cham] Forestry Head [the authorities are seeking to arrest him – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6932-6932, 12-19.4.2010

  • 579 People Were Seriously and Slightly Injured or Killed in Traffic Accidents during the Khmer New Year [49 people were killed this year, compared to 2009, when 52 people were killed]
  • More Than US$87 Million Is Provided [by donors] to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for 2010 and 2011 [ announced by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]
  • Clashes Broke Out in Bangkok, Killing 20 People and Injuring 842; and 28 Police and Soldiers Had Been Held as Hostage [by red-shirt demonstrators]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3856, 12-18.4.2010

  • The Constitutional Council Rejected a Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians’ Request which Heng Samrin Had Rejected Before [for the government to temporarily suspend putting border posts]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #150-152, 12-19.4.2010

  • Cambodian and Thai Soldiers Clashed along the Border, when there Was an Invasion from Thailand [Thai soldiers demanded Khmer soldiers to remove a wooden house which has been constructed there over ten years, but Khmer soldiers disagreed; four Thai soldiers were injured while Khmer soldiers were not – Oddar Meanchey. In the meantime it was reported that the soldiers of both sides withdrew from the area, and also, that this information is not correct; we cannot just trust ONE information in such a situation, but be aware of frequent inconsistencies and changes – but we “mirror” them, not knowing if there will be coming more changes]
  • The United States of America Greeted Cambodia at the Khmer New Year, while the Cambodian Prime Minister Praised Troops [stationed along the Cambodian-Thai border]
  • [Five representatives of] Amleang Commune Residents Came [to Phnom Penh] to Ask for an Intervention from Mr. Hun Sen [over a land dispute with Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in Kompong Speu]
  • The Ministry of Health Calls on Citizens to Stop Using [Kemlotlanhthomcaocap – Spelling/wording not sure] Cosmetic Foam Imported from Vietnam [after a woman in Banteay Meanchey died after she used it]
  • Prices of Petroleum at Big Fuel Stations in Cambodia Increased Also after Prices of Oil at the International Markets Rose [a liter of premium quality is US$1.12 and the normal quality is US$1.07]
  • Mr. Hang Chakra Vowed to Continue to Work According to His Conscience as He Did Previously

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5174-5175, 11-19.4.2010

  • The Top US Diplomat [Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Secretary of State of the USA] Vowed to Strengthen Cambodian-American Ties [recalling good cooperation between the USA and Cambodia]
  • Luxury Grade Wood [about 100 cubic meters] Was Found in the Sambara Resort and Spa Hotel [in Siem Reap]
  • The President of Poland Is among the 132 People Who Were Killed in a Plane Crash in Russia
  • Within the First Two Months of 2010 Cambodia Attracted Investment of US$116.5 Million [for 15 projects in agriculture and the garment sector, from China, Singapore, and Vietnam]
  • The Ministry of Tourism Expects that 2010 Will Be the Year That Tourism Recovers and Grows by 10% [or to 2.4 million tourist arrivals]
  • The Army Commander-In-Chief Anupong Paochinda and Opposition Party President Chavalit Support the Dissolution of the Parliament, after a Clash Which Cost 21 Lives [Thailand – This headline shows also the need to follow developments carefully to verify what is going on; in the meantime it is reported that the military, under General Anupong Paochinda, has taken over the responsibility to maintain security in Bangkok, after the police had not been able to do so]

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The Grenade Attack Anniversary on 30 March Was Commemorated with a Call for Justice – Wednesday, 31.3.2010

Posted on 1 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: To commemorate the 13th anniversary of the grenade attack on demonstrators who were led by Mr. Sam Rainsy on 30 March 1997, the Sam Rainsy Party organized a gathering in the morning of 30 March 2010 at the stupa [the monument built in the Buddhist tradition where relics of the dead are kept] in the park opposite the former National Assembly, south of the Royal Palace.

“The commemorating site, where about 200 Sam Rainsy Party activities assembled, was the site where the attack by grenades had happened on 30 March 1997, killing 16 people and injuring more than 100.

“A woman representing the families of those who were killed and injured by the grenade attack 13 years ago expressed the sadness during the event, ‘We all have been waiting for justice for 13 years, and the murderers have not been arrested. We appeal again to the Cambodian government to investigate this crime and to arrest the murderers and the people behind it, so that they can be prosecuted.’

“The president of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said from France via telephone during the event, that powerful people and those who are at the highest positions (in Cambodia) were involved in the coward grenade attack against innocent demonstrators on 30 March 1997. At that time, the demonstrators were demanding that the court systems should be independent when conducting hearings, avoiding corruption, and following legal procedures.

“Opposition leaders again encouraged the authorities to arrest the perpetrators to be punished according to the law for the grenade attack against demonstrators 13 years ago.

“Also, on 29 March 2010, [the US NGO] Human Rights Watch issued a statement, saying that Cambodia does not have justice for the victims of the grenade attack of 30 March 1997.

“Human Rights Watch said that the United State of America should review its previous investigation of the grenade attack on 30 March 1997 that killed 16 people and injured more than 150 others. The Cambodian government does not make any progress in the investigation to arrest the perpetrators, though there was enough concrete evidence.

“It should be remembered that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately started an investigation after the grenade attack on demonstrators [including one US citizen who was injured] that had been led by Mr. Sam Rainsy on 30 March 1997. But the investigation did not lead to the arrest of the persons who threw the grenades, but ended just with some interviews of witnesses and of persons in the Cambodian police.

“Nevertheless, high ranking officials of the government said that since that event up to the present, the authorities are still conducting investigations and have not closed the case files of this grenade attack. The authorities are investigating to arrest the murderers and those involved to be prosecuted.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, General Khieu Sopheak, said that the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, has not declared the case to be closed for investigations.

“He added that though there was no formal appeal from the victims’ families and from the opposition party, the authorities still keep the investigations going towards the arrest of the murderers, because it is their duty.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5164, 31.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #448, 31.3.2010

  • The Japanese Government Grants Yen 524 Million [approx. US$5,650,000] to Construct Seven School Buildings in Phnom Penh
  • Two Chinese Nationals Were Prosecuted to Serve Eight Years in Prison and a Khmer to Six Years, for Drugs Smuggling

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2215, 31.3.2010

  • The Kompong Speu Military Police Sent the One-Star General Who Does What He Wants [not caring for any law – who shot a remorque-moto driver into the head, injuring him seriously] to the Court to Be Dealt with According to the Law
  • Fifty Citizens Protested in Front of the Court as Five People Were Summoned for Questioning [over a land dispute with a company – Sihanoukville]
  • The Opposition Party Asked the Government to Suspend Putting Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Marker Posts [saying that the positions of the temporary border posts 184, 185, 186 and 187 in Svay Rieng are not consistent with the border line set in the official 1:100,000 map of 1952 produced by Indochina, and the 1:50,000 map of 1966 produced by the US Army. This should allow to review the area again, to avoid territorial losses – but the government said that this request simply aims at hiding Mr. Sam Rainsy’s mistake in uprooting border markers]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #751, 31.3.2010

  • Thirteen Years after the Grenade Attack against Demonstrators in Front of the [former] National Assembly, Justice Has Not Been Achieved

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #640, 31.3.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Said that He Cannot Forget the [grenade attack] Event of 30 March 1997 if the Murderers and Those Who Were Behind It Have Not Been Convicted

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6922, 31.3.2010

  • A Man Disappeared for Three Days and Was Finally Found Dead – Murdered, His Head Cut Off and Thrown into a Forest [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Speu]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3846, 21.3.2010

  • The Government Has to Review the Provision of Concession Land to [Senator and Oknha] Ly Yong Phat while Citizens Are Victimized

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #142, 31.3.2010

  • Cambodia Plans to Start Allowing Foreigners to Adopt Cambodian Children Again [at the end of March 2011] amid Concern over Trafficking [according to the Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Ith Samheng]
  • During the 1997 Grenade Attack Anniversary, Attendees Demanded Justice [for 16 people who were killed and more than 100 others who were injured during the demonstration in front of the former National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5164, 31.3.2010

  • The Grenade Attack Anniversary on 30 March Was Commemorated with a Call for Justice
  • Cambodia Asked Thailand to Explain the Shooting and Killing of Two Khmer Citizens in March 2010
  • The United Nations Acknowledges that there is Progress for Human Rights in Cambodia [because of the adoption of many important laws, the strengthening of the health sector and of education, and of promoting women’s right, and reforms]

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The New Demonstration Law Is More Difficult Than That of 1991 Which Did Not Limit the Number of Demonstrators – Tuesday, 30.3.2010

Posted on 31 March 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“When the new demonstration law of Cambodia, adopted by the National Assembly in 2009, was published on Monday 29 March 2010 at the Sunway Hotel through a workshop at national level by the Ministry of Interior, officials of civil society organizations said that this new law is more difficult than the previous one.

“A senior investigating official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, spoke to journalists after the workshop, saying that the limitation of the number of people to participate in a demonstration or in a strike, limited to 200, is too tight, because at each factory there are thousands of workers.

“Nevertheless, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, stressed that for all demonstrations, there must be letters sent to inform the Ministry of Interior in advance, so that it can take measures for security and protection. He added that any group of persons that want to demonstrate must write a letter to their municipal authorities, where the demonstration is to happen, five days before the event, and the number of people allowed to join in a demonstration is only 200.

“Another point that is seen as a threat against those who intend to demonstrate is that the new non-violent demonstration law requires at least three representatives to attach their photos and addresses with the proposed letters. Regarding this point, civil society organization officials said that this makes it probably difficult for those who suffer from injustice or disagree with something to decide to stand as representatives, because those who were targeted in a demonstration can use tricks to put the blame on the leaders of demonstrations. They can be arrested easily as their names, photos, and addresses have already been attached to the papers to be submitted to the Ministry of Interior.

“Mr. Chan Soveth thinks that this new demonstration law imposes more difficult conditions for demonstrators and strikers than that of 1991. The law of 1991 also required to submit request letters to get a permission for a demonstration, but it did not limit the number of people who could participate. Also, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association [Mr. Rong Chhun], who frequently appears in demonstrations, said that most articles of the new demonstration law inhibit demonstrators from acting freely. The Constitution, the basic law of the country, clearly states that Khmer citizens have ample rights to enter politics, to demonstrate, to strike, or to assemble.

“Many people are aware that these statements exist only on the paper where the Constitution is printed. Some of those who dare [with reference to the Constitution] to demonstrate when they are not satisfied with the situation in a company, or with actions of the government, have been cruelly confronted by armed forces, when the authorities dispatched them arguing that this is done for public security reasons. Some non-government organization officials say that – because government officials in charge do not have the courage to address problems by meeting protesting citizens face-to-face – they use violent measures to suppress the citizens who act based on the Constitution. Furthermore, because the government is afraid it may get a bad reputation because of demonstrations, it decided to rather violate democratic policy.

“It is natural that people compare the actual situation of different countries implementing democratic principles, like Cambodia and Siam [Thailand]. At present, tens of thousands of red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are all over Bangkok and are shouting their slogans freely to demand the dissolution of the parliament, and of the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva, but the armed forces did not harass them. That means that the demonstrators are allowed to express their opinions as they like. This indicates that the democratic space in Siam is wide, and citizens who oppose the government have sufficient rights to express their intentions and their positions toward their government – this is much different compared with Cambodia.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3845, 30.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #447, 30.3.2010

  • Mr. Sar Kheng Asked for Understanding for the Non-Violent Demonstration Law, while Civil Society Is Not So Satisfied with It
  • More Than 10,000 Citizens in Kompong Speu Received A/H1N1 Vaccine Injections

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2214, 30.3.2010

  • An Amleang Commune Counselor and Another Villager [representatives of the Amleang Commune residents] Were Released from Temporary Detention [they were arrested for having been in a crowd that burned down the on-site office of Oknha and Senator Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company over a land dispute]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #639, 30.3.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Asked the Supreme Court to Delay Her Hearing until after 17 April 2010 [over a defamation court case, initiated by Prime Minister Hun Sen against her, as she is in the USA and cannot appear on 7 April 2010 as summoned by the Supreme Court]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6921, 30.3.2010

  • The Minister of Industry Launched the Construction Site of the A Tai River Hydro-Electric Dam [which will generate 246 megawatts; it might cost about US$540 million, to be invested by a Chinese company, and it is expected to be operating by 2014 – Koh Kong]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3845, 30.3.2010

  • The [Kompong Speu] Court Must Punish the Brigadier General Who Shot a Citizen [in the head], Wounding Him Seriously [just because of a minor driving mistake]
  • The New Demonstration Law Is More Difficult Than That of 1991 Which Did Not Limit the Number of Demonstrators

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #141, 30.3.2010

  • About 3,000 Cubic Meter of Wood Were Seized [the head of the Department of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ty Sokun, said that about 100 loggers, including powerful people and traders, will have to face legal actions after the authorities found that they store illegally cut wood]
  • The Malaysian Petronas Petroleum Company Will Withdraw Its Investments from Cambodia [to develop petroleum resources] Next Month [it is the second company, after Shell, that withdrew in 2007 – no reason given]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5163, 30.3.2010

  • A Man Was Convicted to Serve Fifteen Years in Prison and a Woman to Twenty Years for Trafficking People to Be Prostitutes in Malaysia
  • Bangkok: Negotiations Failed [to achieve the protesters’ goal, as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva declined to dissolve the parliament immediately as demanded by the red shirt groups, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] – and Gun Fire and Bomb Explosion Continue to Be Heard

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