Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign – Thursday, 6.5.2010

Posted on 6 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

“Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore.

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees.

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honourable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.”

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

  • Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Claimed that the Non-Government Organizations Law Will Not Block the Freedom of Non Government Organizations – Wednesday, 25.11.2009

Posted on 25 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“Phnom Penh: Pointing to the importance to create a law about non-government organizations (NGOs) being drafted by the government, the Cambodian Prime Minister said on 24 November 2009 that previous problems caused by some NGOs encourage the government to create a law on organizations of different kinds, in order to ensure their proper operation, but this law will not affect the freedom of the NGOs.

“Examples raised by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen during the 30th anniversary celebration of the partnership between NGOs and Cambodia, were of an organization which had been prosecuted in the United State regarding the adoption of children from Cambodia, which finally became human trafficking, and of another organization that sheltered under an NGO some years ago and had taken the British Embassy as its target for a terrorist attack, but this plan was suppressed in time by the government. [The terrorist] Hambali left Cambodia and was later arrested in Thailand, after the attack on the island of Bali in Indonesia.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘These examples do not imply that the Royal Government is suspecting other organizations that are implementing good activities of participating in terrorism, but please do not forget that some organizations are doing bad things.’ Therefore, we need a law to control NGOs. He stressed, ‘I guarantee that it is not an action to restrict the freedom of NGOs, please believe me.’

“During the 1980s there were just less than 30 NGOs in Cambodia. But by 2009, there are 3,207 NGOs and associations, where 1,933 are NGOs and 1,274 are associations, that is why Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen observed that Cambodia is a heaven for NGOs that carry out different activities.

“The claim about the practicality of an NGO law was made, while an NGO law is being drafted carefully by the Royal Government; some NGOs expressed the fear that the Royal Government will exercise prohibitive controls over NGOs through that law. Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘I am aware that some NGOs that have acted correctly, and they do not care too much about this law, but some organizations protested loudly, and I wonder why they claim to promote the rule of law, but they want to act without a law.’

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen added, ‘Anyway, we will neither restrict the freedom to creat NGOs, nor take away the funding of NGOs.’ He added that some NGOs demand that the government has to be transparent, providing information, but they themselves do not have such transparency. The Royal Government wants to know where NGOs get the money from and how they use it for what. ‘Just this they do not want to tell, but they oppose the government. The Royal Government also wants to know how much capital is from government, from development partners, and from NGOs, so that we can know the total amount of capital to allocate each year in each sector, where at present, we do not control it and we are not aware of how many activities are contributed by NGOs. This point creates difficulties for macro management or other relevant tasks.’ Samdech went on to say that sometimes, there are some overlapping activities of NGOs, and what is more problematic is that some NGOs had expressed their voice absolutely in the same way as opposition parties. Such organizations protest more than others, because they feel afraid, just because the laws in Cambodia do not allow political parties to receive funds from foreign donors.

“Samdech continued to say that in the first stage of law enforcement on NGOs, there will be difficulties. Anyway, the Royal Government will make it function smoothly.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2107, 25.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #3, 345.11.2009

  • A Man Entered a House to Rape a 14-Year Old Girl when Her Parents Were Not at Home [the man was arrested – Battambang]
  • The Laotian Prime Minister Will Arrive in Cambodia This Morning [to visit Cambodia officially on 25 and 26 November 2009]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2107, 25.11.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Claimed that the Non-Government Organizations Law Will Not Block the Freedom of Non-Government Organizations
  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Did Not Take Office by Robbing Power from Others like it Happened in a Neighboring Country [claimed Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Three Top Drug Smugglers Were Arrested by Military Police in Takhmao [Kandal]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #538, 25.11.2009

  • If [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Closes the Border, It Does Not Cause Any Trouble for [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, but for Khmer Citizens [who earn their living at those border crossings; but Prime Minister Hun Sen still announced his firm opinion that Cambodia does not care about the warning from Thailand to maybe close the border]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6814, 25.11.2009

  • Samdech Deckhor Hun Sen: Now It Should Be Time to Create a Law about Non-Government Organizations and Associations
  • The Former Singaporean Prime Minister [Mr. Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister] Visited Cambodia [to study the current situation, especially different measures that Cambodia has been taking to deal with the global financial crisis and other future problems]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #25, 53.11.2009

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Asked to Jail [Tuol Sleng former prison chief] Duch for a Long Period [for the torture and murder of many people]
  • Oddar Meanchey Villagers [of 36 families] Sleep on the Ground opposite the National Assembly [they escaped from arrest by the Oddar Meanchey authorities over land disputes with Oknha and senator Ly Yong Phat]
  • Netherlands Wants to Invest in Solar Power [in Cambodia, worth US$300 million]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1477, 25.11.2009

  • Fire in Boeng Salang Commune Destroyed Two Houses and a Car, and Other Property Was Totally Burnt [the fire was caused by an electric fault – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5056, 25.11.2009

  • Drug Smugglers Shot Police in Response, Killing One Policeman and Seriously Injuring Two Others [two suspects, husband and wife, were arrested – Phnom Prek, Battambang]
  • Thai Former Prime Minister Mr. Samak Sundaravej Died of [liver] Cancer [both disputing countries, Cambodia and Thailand, expressed condolences over his death]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1819, 25.11.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Position is Upheld [by the Appeals Court] over [the president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation] Mr. Moueng Son’s Case [the court sentenced him to jail for two years for disinformation, over his comment about fixing of lighting at the Angkor Wat Temple]

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Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia – Sunday, 15.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Several mails I had received during the week requested what this week’s editorial should be about. Agreed. The visit of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia has more than any other recent event received wide international attention – at the same time it resulted in bringing a range of different and opposing issues to the surface, beyond the straightforward political tensions.

The disparities start with the wording, how the visitor is called in national and international media: the possibilities extend from the fond description of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as an “eternal friend” by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to the more neutral description when referring to the “former Thai prime minister ousted by a military coup,” to the references – and this not only in part of the Thai press – to the “convicted fugitive, because of corruption, and who finally violated the bail requirements and fled the country to avoid going to prison.”

This is the first controversy.

The Cambodian government did not only refuse to live up to the Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement, “considering the prosecution and legal process against Thaksin Shinawatra as a politically motivated proceeding,” and therefore even handed back the Thai documents submitted to seek Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s extradition. On the other hand, the Thai government and part of the Thai media felt that already that extending an invitation and offering the function to be an adviser to the Cambodian government were an insult to the legal system of Thailand.

As a public reaction in Thailand, the popularity of the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, almost tripled, with appruval rates of 24% in September to 69% recently, according to a poll.

The interpretation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the present Cambodian-Thai dispute is basically a personal dispute between the two prime ministers, was not shared in the international press. More fundamental problems were touched upon: What does it mean for the international standing of a country when a search warrant by Interpol can be dismissed, after the fugitive, who is being sought under a “red alert” warrant, after a bail violation, and after a criminal conviction for corruption in dealing with the sale of valuable public property to a family member, up to the grotesque $60,000 event of the mysteriously mistaken box of chocolate.

How would such events be dealt with under a Cambodian anti-corruption law, due to be adopted by the National Assembly since a decade ago? If actions of corruption are committed in combination with political ones, are they then no longer subject to criminal prosecution?

There were several rumors and denials – that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra would fly together with the Cambodian Prime Minister to the APEC meetings in Singapore.

Surprising also, that the Cambodian Prime Minister compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. In an interview with Times Online, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said: “There are some similarities there, but not really everything. The similarity is we won elections, we rule the countries. We’ve been ousted by the coup d’etat and we come from the people. We are democratically elected leaders and we come from the majority of the people – a big majority, not just a small majority. She’s under house arrest, I’ve been kicked out of the country.”

The Cambodian government has never found such strong critical words against the ruling military in Myanmar. Will the Cambodian government also accept such advice and change its position? The statement “I’ve been kicked out of the country” contrasts with the fact that the self imposed exile abroad started with breaking bail arrangements with the Thai law enforcement authorities, traveling abroad without the promised return.

But the invitation to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may lead to a second kind of controversies.

Press reports in Cambodia were not enthusiastic about his speech in front of 300 selected economists. The Cambodian Daily said that his address “primarily dealt in generalities and contained little that Cambodian economists will not already know.” Not only that: Some of his advice runs contrary to some of the traditional approaches of Cambodian economic practice.

Thakshin Sinawatra became the favorite politician among a majority of the rural population in Thailand because of his new policy of favoring them directly, with debt relief and village loan funds administered by the local communities themselves. The revenue of the public and the private sector should, first of all, be directed towards the poorest sector of society, is his advice. Large scale land leasings to big companies in favorable relation with the government, leading to considerable groups of the rural population losing their land, coming to demonstrate in Phnom Penh, asking for justice, as happens so frequently in Cambodia, are not compatible which the vision of Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic policies.

Surprising is also his emphasis on the need of reconciliation and good neighborliness between Cambodia and Thailand, in order to foster Cambodia’s economic development, including the promotion of Thailand and Cambodia together for international tourism, presenting themselves as a “joint destination.” This runs against many recent antagonistic trends: the Thai government had proposed to submit Preah Vihear together with the Cambodian government to the World Heritage Committee, which was flatly rejected by the Cambodian side. During the last year there were even plans discussed in Cambodia to create an international airport 500 meters below the mountain range where Preah Vihear is situated, which is conveniently accessible from the north, from Thailand. This plan, to exclude the natural access to Preah Vihear – and therefore tourism via Thailand, was soon given up again as economically completely unreal. The public outcry some years ago, when Bangkok Airways had named one of its airplanes Angkor Wat – while other planes are named according to other international destinations, promoting tourism to these places – has no place in this context. The Cambodian Daily reported his emphasis on the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, as the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably linked – adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.” Those who see it differently in Thailand are assumed to suffer from being shortsighted, driven by false patriotism.

One may ask whether the anti-Thai actions of 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was ransacked because of a baseless rumor, resulting in further arson so that the hardware damage alone of that night was estimated at US$56 million, and the tensions before and after the designation of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, would also fall under a similar verdict by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, that a false patriotism is in the way also in some of the Cambodian attitudes and actions.

It is surprising to consider how future suggestions of the new economic adviser of the Cambodian government will be handled, while land conflicts in rural areas continue, further large scale leasings of land are under consideration inviting countries from the Middle East to start agro-business ventures, and Japanese companies are considering to create new large tree planting schemes in Cambodia.

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestions may not only be unwelcome in his own country. They run counter to major trends of present day Cambodian big business.

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Thursday, 31.7.2008: US Ambassador Expressed Disappointment about Release of Russian Millionaire

Posted on 1 August 2008. Filed under: Week 571 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 571

“A statement from the US Embassy in Cambodia reported the reaction of Ambassador Mussomeli regarding the release of a Russian millionaire, who was accused of raping many Cambodian little girls. He mentioned that for several years, Cambodia has shown a strong commitment to fight human trafficking. Samdech Prime Minister, many ministers, like the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of Justice, and of Women’s Affairs, as well as other public officials have testified to the world, how the Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to protect children and other citizens who are easily affected. Also, the world has congratulated Cambodia for this work. ‘We are very disappointed about the release of the Russian millionaire – who has raped children – after the Sihanoukville Court had imposed only a minor punishment on this person. The release of the criminal and the punishment imposed on this person do not fit the crimes committed.’

“Serious punishment is the most effective method to send a message to persons who rape children, that such crimes will never be forgiven. In this case, the court actions strongly affect the nation and the Cambodian children, by sending a wrong signal to those who plan to abuse children sexually. It threatens and destroys the strong efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia to suppress rape and human trafficking in Cambodia.

“Regarding this reaction of the Ambassador, it was not possible to contact the court officials for comments
in the evening of 30 July 2008.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6411, 31.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 31 July 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1707, 31.7.2008

  • German Minister [Ministry of Economy and Technology, Michael Glos] Congratulates the Cambodian People’s Party for its Victory
  • The Birth Spacing Is an Important Measure That Helps Save Lives of Mothers and Infants


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #61, 31.7.2008

  • Court Rejected Request by [Funcinpec’s new president] Keo Puth Rasmey to Withdraw Lawsuit [of Funcinpec against Prince Norodom Ranariddh – 30 July 2008]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6411, 31.7.2008

  • US Ambassador Expressed Disappointment about Release of Russian Millionaire
  • Supreme Court Upholds the Verdict of the Appeals Court That Convicted Prince Ranariddh to 18 Months Imprisonment
  • The Gathering of Protesters by the Sam Rainsy Party in Public Was Prevented, It Had to Be inside of the [Sam Rainsy Party] Headquarters [30 July 2008]
  • Mr. Radovan Karadžić [former Serb Bosnian leader, accused of genocidal crimes] Sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the Netherlands [30 July 2008]
  • Cholera Killed 172 People in Indonesia [according to AFP]
  • South Korea Imports US Beef for the First Time After a Five-Year Suspension


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3526, 31.7.2008

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Waits for More Funds while the Health of the Accused Deteriorates Alarmingly


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4655, 31.7.2008

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Form a Coalition Government with Funcinpec, Led by [Funcinpec Secretary-General] Nhek Bun Chhay; the Government Removed Funcinpec President Mr. Keo Puth Rasmey from the Position of Deputy Prime Minister [because, on 29 July 2008, he suggested to the Supreme Court to withdraw the lawsuit against Prince Ranariddh], and Prince Sisowath Sereyrath Was Removed from the Position of Government Advisor [because he joined a declaration with three other parties, questioning the fairness of the elections on 28 July]
  • The Number of Deaths by Traffic Accidents in Phnom Penh in July Amounts to 30% of the Total Number Countrywide
  • Kuwait Prime Minister [Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (Arabic: صباح الأحمد الجابر الصباح Sabāh al-Ahmad al-Jābir as-Sabāh) Will Visit Cambodia Three Days [he will arrive in Cambodia on 3 August 2008]

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

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