Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law – Wednesday, 11.11.2009

Posted on 12 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

“Phnom Penh: A Source from the Thai News Agency (TNA) said on Tuesday that the Thai parliament decided to cancel a Cambodian-Thai memorandum of understanding, but senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia consider this as only a dream of people who do not know the law.

“According to a report from TNA published on Tuesday, 10 November 2009, the [Thai] parliament decided to terminate a Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, signed in 2001. This decision was made after the Kingdom of Cambodia recently decided [by Prime Minister Hun Sen and a Royal decree] to appoint the former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, as an economic adviser of the Royal Government and of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

TNA said that the Thai parliament decided to officially cancel the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Thai former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Surakiart Sathirathai, and the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, on 14 June 2001, though there has be no improvement at all within the eight years since it became valid.

“The head of the National Border Committee, Senior Minister Va Kimhong, spoke during a press conference held in the morning of 10 November 2009 at the Council of Ministers, where he said that the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed upon between the Royal Governments of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Cambodia about the overlapping zones at the seabed of the two countries in 2001. He added that the aims of this 2001 Memorandum of Understanding are:

  1. To seek an agreement for a treaty about overlapping zones; and
  2. To explicitly demarcate the sea border between Cambodia and Thailand.

“The Senior Minister explained the cause how these overlapping emerged, saying that because Cambodia drew a line in 1972, while Thailand also designated its seabed in 1973, so this overlapping zones emerged. The government had sought to negotiate since 1970 and 1971 to find a solution at the region of the later overlapping zones. He went on to say, ‘In fact, we again started negotiations since 1995 with a Deputy Prime Minister as the head of the negotiations at that time, during the first term of the Royal Government, but the talks failed, and only in 1999, 2000, and 2001, there came a situation to sign that Memorandum of Understanding. Its major goal was to agree to develop those overlapping zones, as well as to clearly demarcate the sea border.’

“A Source from [the Thai well known newspaper] The Nation said that recently, yellow shirt demonstrators [supporters of the current Thai government] of the Thai People’s Alliance for Democracy had submitted 11 documents, detailing the agreement between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, asking their Royal Government to check, and to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding. On Tuesday, the parliament of the Kingdom of Thailand decided to send this request to cancel this Memorandum of Understanding into the parliament for discussion and approval.

“Responding to questions of journalists about the intention to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, Senior Minister Va Kimhong said that this canceling is only a dream of a group of people who do not know the law, and if Thailand had people with knowledge about the law, it would have been impossible to decide as they did.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #333, 11.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia, and [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Welcomed Him with Most Friendly Greeting, as Gestures for an Eternal Friend
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Sent [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy’s Letter to Three Samdechs [Samdech Hun Sen, Samdech Heng Samrin – the president of the National Assembly, and Samdech Chea Sim – the president of the Senate], related to the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers [Mr. Sam Rainsy’s letter claimed there were irregularities when the border markers were set]
  • An Exclusive Rice Import Company from Singapore [“ALM”] Comes to Cooperate with the Golden Rice Association of Cambodia [to invest in rice cultivation in Cambodia for export to Singapore]
  • The Russian Government Is Considering to Cancel the US$1.5 Billion Debt That Cambodia Owes [according to high ranking officials of the National Assembly that have just returned from a visit to Russia which Mr. Heng Samrin led]
  • Typhoon Ketsana Caused a Loss of US$140 Million [there were 43 deaths, 67 serious injuries, and 22,800 families lost their homes – according to the National Disaster Management Committee]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

  • Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law
  • In one Week Indonesia Will Exhibit Its Products in Cambodia [at the Mondial Center in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #672, 11.11.2009

  • Nine Types of Special Food Was Prepared to Welcome Thaksin Shinawatra, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Eternal Friend, when He Arrived in Cambodia

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #525, 11.11.2009

  • Only Now the Government Discovers that Many Appointments Did Not Create Any Tasks to Do, and Waste National Resources

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6802, 11.11.2009

  • The Thai Parliament Meeting Had Disputes and Disagreements during the Discussion about the Intention to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about [maritime] Borders
  • Cambodia Welcomes Thaksin Shinawatra, while the Thai Deputy Prime Minister Announced that There Is No Plan to Close the Cambodian-Thai Border Crossings
  • Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [a Burmese elected democracy leader] Might Be Released for the 2010 Elections [according to the general director of the Ministry of Interior of Burma, Mr. Min Lwin]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #43, 11.11.2009

  • Cambodian-Thai Relations Became Tenser when Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia; Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Said, “I Do Not Come Here to Help Cambodia against Thailand”
  • The Authorities Prevented [24] Students [from different universities in Phnom Penh and in Svay Rieng] to Visit the Border in Svay Rieng [at the point where Mr. Sam Rainsy was accused of removing border markers; they claimed they had received high-level officials’ order]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5044, 11.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra [and former Thai prime minister Somchai Wongsawat] Landed in Cambodia in His Own Plane, and He Will Stay in Cambodia Two to Three Days;
  • Reactions Were Expressed against the Presence of Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia [the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Human Rights Party claimed that the presence of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia does not help the government with anything, but it will step up further tension between the Cambodian and Thai governments; however, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed it will help Cambodia’s economy]
  • POSCO E&C [a leading construction company from South Korea] Inaugurated an Occupational Safety Section for the Construction of High Rise Buildings along the River [it plans to construct one 45-storey building and two 42-storey buildings behind the Russian Embassy along the Basak River, worth about US$300 million – Phnom Penh]

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The German Government Announces to Suspend Aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Wednesday, 4.2.2009

Posted on 5 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“A delegation from Germany announced on Monday, 2 February 2009, that the government of Germany suspends all its aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal until corruption allegations at the international tribunal are solved, and the Berlin government encourages the fourth-term government of power holder Prime Minister Hun Sen, established by a combined vote, to provide a role also to oppositions parties in Cambodia, following democratic principles.

“Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, the vice-president of the German parliament, visiting Cambodia, said on Monday that the government of Germany halts funding for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as long as the corruption allegations at this tribunal are not solved. Wolfgang Thierse said, ‘We will continue supporting the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, provided corruption allegations are cleared up, but all funding to be provided is now suspended.’

“On Monday morning, the delegation from Germany met with parliamentarians of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], its partner Funcinpec, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party which is facing an internal fractional split. As for the alliance of the Democratic Movement for Change, comprising the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, they refused to join the meeting with the three parties mentioned above at the National Assembly, claiming that the oppositions parties do not hold positions in the nine commissions of the fourth-term National Assembly. However, on Monday evening, the opposition parties met with the delegation from Germany at a place outside of the National Assembly; to meet outside like this was regarded by the vice-president of the parliament of Germany as ‘correct,’ because the ruling party controls all positions of chairing all commissions of the National Assembly.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot, Ms. Mu Sochua, said that the National Assembly is not a proper meeting place for the Sam Rainsy Party with Mr. Wolfgang Thierse. She went on to say, ‘We are not part of the commissions of the National Assembly. Therefore, we will not attend this meeting.’

“The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, which form an alliance, announced that the CPP had invited also the opposition parties to attend the meeting at the National Assembly, but the opposition parties held a meeting with the delegation from Germany separately from the ruling party, which controls both the government and the National Assembly, which is in contrast to democratic principles, and the CPP wants to eliminate the voice of the opposition parties, both in the government and in the National Assembly. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘There is nothing to discuss. The government and the opposition parties should have separate meetings.’

“Mr. Wolfgang Thierse raised, during his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, the importance of opposition parties in democracy, especially the role of opposition parties in the National Assembly, referring to an example in the parliament of Germany, where opposition parties control important commissions of the parliament, and all political parties having seats in the parliament have to cooperate in this legislative institution.

“The delegation from Germany will stay in Cambodia five days, and yesterday, Tuesday, the delegation from Germany boarded an airplane to Siem Reap, to meet members of the German Angkor Conservation Project, who are doing restoration work at the Angkor Wat temples.

“According to information from a group joining the visit of the delegation from Germany to Cambodia, this visit is also a response to concerns raised by the opposition parties, demanding that the European Parliament of the European Union intervenes, related to the control of all commissions of the National Assembly by the ruling CPP of Prime Minister Hun Sen, without involving the main opposition party which has 26 seats in the National Assembly.

“During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, Mr. Wolfgang Thierse encouraged strongman Hun Sen to clearly accept the opposition party’s role, both in the National Assembly and in the government, following democratic policies, if Hun Sen really accepts the free multi-party politics according to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. He emphasized that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party controls the government and the National Assembly, which makes democracy in Cambodia moving backwards, as it shuts up the voice of opposition parties [in parliamentary activities] in Cambodia.

“Regarding corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Wolfgang Thierse clearly specified that the government of Germany has to stop all aid to this hybrid tribunal, suffering allegations of serious corruption. Because officials and judges of this tribunal are said to have paid kickbacks every month to three officials of the administration: to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, to the director of the Office of Administration of the tribunal Sean Visoth, and to the tribunal’s personnel section director Keo Thyvuth, for letting them work at this international tribunal.

“Mr. Wolfgang encouraged also to conduct a clear investigation about the complaint of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers, filed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, requesting this civil court to take action by investigating allegations of a corruption scandal, rumored since a long time at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. If an investigation is not conducted properly, and the corruption allegation at this tribunal is not solved, the government of Germany will stop providing aid to this tribunal forever.

“According to information from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the director of administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Sean Visoth, accused of having received kickbacks from tribunal officials, has not shown up for work for nearly one month, since international lawyers defending Nuon Chea lodged a complaint against him and against two other persons at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 9 January 2009. The Municipal Court is investigating this lawsuit, but the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, notorious for corruption, probably cannot discover corruption in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“Legal observers in Cambodia said that they have little trust in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to probe and bring officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, involved in corruption, for prosecution according to the law, because some officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are also working at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, such as Yet Chakriya, who is the deputy co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and he is also the newly nominated chief prosecutor of the Municipal Court. Therefore, Yet Chakriya cannot do anything against orders of higher officials, because he is afraid of being removed from his positions either at the Municipal Court or at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.” Moneaksekar or Khmer, Vol.16, #3678, 4.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Kampuchea Thngai Nis, Vol.3, #398, 4-12.2.2009

  • The Club of Cambodian Journalists Becomes a Place to Create Spokespersons [a first five-weeks training is provided to 18 officials from state institutions and non-government organizations]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1864, 4.2.2009

  • [Phnom Penh Municipal] Court Summons Mr. Sam Rainsy for the Second Time [over a complaint lodged against him by the National Assembly, as he has not paid Riel 10 million [approx. US$2,500] for a defamation charge about a speech during his election campaign in 2008]
  • Lawyers and [PJ] Prison Officials Deny that Two [Thai] Jemaah Islamiya Convicts Are Released and Sent to Thailand [Phnom Penh]
  • The Philippines Government Has the Intention to Accept Cambodian Rice to Be Sold in the Philippines
  • 26 Million Migrant Workers [among 130 million] in China’s Countryside Are Unemployed [according to an announcement of the Chinese government]
  • [Democratically elected political leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi Told the UN Envoy that She Was Disappointed [that the United Nations that cannot persuade the junta leaders of Myanmar holding strict position to end their dictatorship]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #334, 4.2.2009

  • The King Goes to Beijing [to meet his parents and to have a medical checkup]
  • There Is No Ministry Responsible for the Stagnation of Agricultural Products of Khmer Farmers

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #196, 4.2.2009

  • The National Election Committee Announces to Political Parties to Prepare to Participate in the New [district and provincial-city] Councils Elections [which will be held on 17 May 2009 – the registration of political parties will be held from 26 February to 2 March 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6569, 4.2.2009

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sent a Diplomatic Note to the Embassies, related to Foreigners Marrying Cambodians
    [informing them that foreigners applying for marriage registrations are not obliged to become member of any organization in order to get marriage rights with Cambodian citizens, and they should also be instructed not to use any marriage broker agencies, as this is against the laws of Cambodia]
  • A Man Raped His Step Daughter since She Was Eleven Years Old Until She Is Now Sixteen – When His Wife Found It out [he was arrested, Kompong Cham]
  • Iran Launches Its First [self-made] Satellite

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3678, 4.2.2009

  • The German Government Announces to Suspend Aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Khmer and Siamese [Thai] Ministers of Defense Will Meet to Discuss the Border Disputes on 6 February 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4812, 4.2.2009

  • Human Rights Report: Land Disputes Are some of the Most Serious Human Rights Violations in 2008
  • Note:

    Some more details are here on the Internet in Ka-set:

    Concern is the order of the day, ADHOC president Thun Saray indicates. In 2008, Human rights defenders, “providing advice to victims of land and resource seizures on seeking redress with the courts or authorities, or the release from detention of their community representatives” have been the particular target of threats and accusations of incitement to protest. “Such accusations from government officials were designed to intimidate workers and activists”, from providing legal advice and assistance to victims in land disputes with private companies and powerful people, ADHOC denounces in its report. In 2008, according to the Human rights NGO, at least 164 Human rights defenders were subjected to such threats in 63 separate cases.

    And:

    Similar tone of speech at the headquarters of the LICADHO, another Cambodian organization for the defense of Human rights. Its president, Kek Galabru, observes with the same concern the increase in the number of threats towards activists, whether they be attached to NGOs or not. “We have already pointed this out in several reports. I will give you a recent example: one of our employees was hit at Dey Krahom as he was only explaining their rights to residents! Our staff also received unsigned mail containing the drawing of a skull and crossbones… Saying that we are the ones behind the demonstrations is only an excuse used by the government to avoid solving problems. We never acted like that!”, LICADHO president says.

  • Siam [Thailand] Changes Its Intention, to Send Only Seven of Eighteen Smuggled Artifacts Back to Cambodia
  • Fifteen Cambodian Officials [independent experts and civil society officials] Will Have a [one-week] Study Tour to Europe [provided by the Delegation of the European Commission in Cambodia, to share and to encourage knowledge among trainees about measures of the European Union for solving some key problems, such as legal and court reforms, good governance, human rights, and promotion of democracy]
  • [Ousted former prime minister] Thaksin Told Puea Thai Party that He Will Return to Be Prime Minister One Day

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Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

“It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life.

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st century.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

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