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.

.

Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Prime Minister Hun Sen Explains the Change in the Position of the Commander-in-Chief – Saturday, 7.2.2009

Posted on 9 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“Phnom Penh: Rumors about the reasons for the removal, two weeks ago, of General Ke Kim Yan moved Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen on Friday 6 February 2009 to clearly explain that the removal of the commander-in-chief was part of the ongoing military reform, but it was not the result of internal disputes in the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], the party ruling the country.

“Speaking to journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Samdech Hun Sen said that he is aware that some people say that the removal of the commander-in-chief is to strengthen the forces of Hun Sen and to diminish the forces of Samdech Chea Sim. But Samdech [Hun Sen] added that even if Mr. Ke Kim Yan were still the commander-in-chief, there would be no problem in the CPP.

“Together with this claim, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen went on to say that General Ke Kim Yan is still a general, having protection forces for which the government has to be responsible. As for the party’s affairs, Mr. Ke Kim Yan is still a permanent member of the Central Committee of the CPP, and head of a certain working group in Banteay Meanchey.

“With reference to the motions in the CPP, raised in public opinions recently, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen stressed that military adjustments are normal in military reforms, when the government wants to improve efficiency, just as in reforms in other sectors. But this time, this is not happening in the form of a slow method, but Samdech Hun Sen wants that it happens faster in order to be in line with the present situation.

“As for the rights of a prime minister, since the time when Samdech took over the office as prime minister for the first time in 1985, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that for all decisions about any reforms or changes in appointments, the prime minister did not need to ask for ideas from the party.

“As mentioned above, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned opposition groups and accused them of provoking fractional splits among the CPP, using the information about the removal of General Ke Kim Yan as the commander-in-chief.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned, ‘Anyone and any party which dares to interfere in CPP affairs, that person and that party will not have peace. I will fight until your last shelter is no more, like with the Funcinpec in 1997. And now, all commentators, please stop making comments to split the CPP into factions and opposition,’ where Samdech seemed to refer to the Sam Rainsy Party, which nowadays should be able to control their own party members.

“Mr. Yim Sovann added that real military reform has not only to do with the change of persons among the top leadership, but it is also necessary to check the salaries of the military, to check weapons, medicines, and the livelihood of military families. Another point is that all military commanders must be neutral in their attitudes and thinking, and they must not be involved with any political party, in order to avoid conflicts of interest in fulfilling their roles.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4815, 7.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 7 February 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1867, 7.2.2009

  • Cambodia Brewery Limited Issues Alert because some Pressure Containers for Beer [stolen from the factory] Are Pressure-Filled with Oxygen for Hospitals to Treat Patients [and not with carbon dioxyde which goes with beer]
  • [Singaporean and Taiwanese agricultural] Researchers Said Soil in Cambodia Is Pristine Like Offered by God
  • Sri Lanka Offers Amnesty for Tamil Tiger Insurgents If They Surrender
  • Ms. Hilary Clinton Chooses Indonesia for Her First Visit Abroad

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #199, 7.2.2009

  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL: Parties with Few Seats Have No Opportunity to Express Their Opinion
  • [Around 1,700] Workers of the Sang Yong Garment Factory Strike by Closing the Factory [because the factory has suspended work for two months – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6572, 7-8.2.2009

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Explains the Change in the Position of the Commander-in-Chief
  • A British Television Station [Quick Silver or Channel 4] Interviews the Municipal Authorities [about the economic situation and the evictions]
    A Pregnant Woman Is Choked to Death and Her Face Is Cut with Razor Blades in a Room of a Guesthouse [murderer is not yet identified – Siem Reap]
  • Murderers Who Killed Three People by Cutting Their Throats at the Victims’ Home [in Prek Pra commune, Meanchey] Was Arrested [the murderers are husband and wife, they killed to rob the victims who were their close friends]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3681, 7-8.2.2009

  • The German Ambassador Condemns Hun Sun for Prohibiting Opposition Party Parliamentarian [Ms. Mu Sochua] to Attend the Third Annual Economic Forum [sponsored by the Supreme National Economic Council of the government, supported by the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank, and UNDP]
  • Dey Krahom Residents Protest in Front of the Municipality to Demand US$20,000 Compensation

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4815, 7.2.2009

  • The Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister Never Said that the Territory under the Preah Vihear Temple Belongs to Siam [Thailand – Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva said so in a press conference about negotiations related to the contested area around the temple]
  • Samdech Hun Sen Told the Thai Minister [of Defense]: ‘It Is a Historic Time to Solve Problems so that the Next Generations No Longer Have Problems’
  • The German Agency GTZ Signed an Agreement Supporting the National Audit Authority’s Development [for the second stage from 2009 to 2011, with assistance of Euro 2 million – approx. US$2.6 million]
  • Note about details of the GTZ engagement from the GTZ web site:

    The “Support to the National Audit Authority” provides technical assistance in Cambodia with the objective to enhance accountability and transparency in the system of Public Finances in Cambodia.

    We are fully aware that the major preconditions for the success of our company are not only the price and quality of the services we provide, but also our good reputation and our integrity. Integrity is rooted in the company’s philosophy and is of personal significance to all staff. Our Code of Conduct comprises rules on how to deal with conflicts of interest and to avoid corruption.

    The message we send out is that rather than seeing corruption as a necessary evil or a by-product of work processes, we are strongly committed to fighting it. The best way to combat corruption has always been to bring it out into the public.

    Everyone engaged in the fight against corruption must help to uncover corruption in every shape and form.

    GTZ has appointed the lawyer Dr Joussen as its Ombudsman.

    Dr. Edgar Joussen
    Bleibtreustrasse 1
    10623 Berlin, Germany
    Tel.: +49 700 66283762, Fax: +49 30 31518744
    E-mail: ra-js@ra-js.de

    Dr. Edgar Joussen runs his own legal office in Berlin and is a bank clerk by training. He has specialised in anti-corruption consulting for many years. In 2000 he also began advising Deutsche Bahn AG.
    The Ombudsman is a point of contact and an advisor on corruption-related matters for GTZ’s staff and business partners.

    Dr. Joussen may be contacted by phone, mail, fax or e-mail. A personal meeting will be arranged where appropriate.

  • India Promises to Continue to Support Cooperation in the National Defense Sector with Cambodia
  • High Ranking Military Officer [unnamed three-star general] Is Sued for Adultery
  • [The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun Sends two Letters to International Organizations [International Education Organization and International Labor Organization] about the Transfer of the President Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Kompong Thom [Mr. Sun Thun was transfered for political reasons from Triel High School to teach at a lower secondary school]
  • Cambodia Will Ask UNESCO to List the Chapei [a Cambodian long-necked lute – not clear if the instrument, or if Mr. Kong Nai as one of the last living masters, under the category of Living Human Treasure] and Lakhon Khol [all-male. Cambodian masked dance theater], after Angkor and the Temple of Preah Vihear [by UNESCO as World Heritage], and Sbek Thom – Khmer Shadow Theater] and the Royal Ballet of Cambodia Were Listed [by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.


Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...