Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

Posted on 17 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

It seems that some issues, which need to be clarified, do not find any solution – not only because they are controversial, but because it seem to happen frequently that issues raised are not discussed – the detailed facts and concerns they raised are disregarded, they are put aside by flat denial, not touching at the presented facts at all. Or instead of dealing with controversial facts, the “other party” is served with an insult – and it is up to the reader to consider whether the insult carries enough conviction to override the arguments, or whether an insult, instead of an argument, backfires on the party which refuses to engage in a rational discussion.

We will bring here some reminders, where it seems that facts and opinions had been presented, and the public received responses. Some seem to have intended to close further discussion – though the discussion continues anyway. In some cases we hope to lead to further open discussion – inviting to consider some aspects which are not widely shared, but may merit more attention. We let “both parties” speak.

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On 5 February 2009, the UK based organization Global Witness published a report entitled Country for Sale. The organization describes its general, global outreach, in the following way:

“Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’ and awarded the 2007 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, sponsored jointly by Washington DC based Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.”

The content of the study, presented on 72 pages with detailed references, is described by Global Witness as follows:

“Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – could eventually earn enough from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid. The report, Country for Sale, exposes for the first time how this future is being jeopardized by high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage in the allocation and management of these critical public assets.

Country for Sale details how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. The beneficiaries of many of these deals are members of the ruling elite or their family members. Meanwhile, the findings suggest that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources may be missing from the national accounts.”

Among the details, Global witness says:

“Global Witness wrote to both Chevron and BHP Billiton in October 2008 to ask them to reveal any payments made to the Cambodian government or government officials. At the time of publication, Chevron had not responded. BHP Billiton however, did reply to say that BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and the Cambodian Government have established a joint social development fund. The total contribution of BHP and Mitsubishi is to be US$2.5 million. BHP’s response stated: ‘BHP Billiton has never made a payment to a Cambodian Government official or representative and we reject any assertion that the payment under the minerals exploration agreement is, or the amounts contributed to the Social Development Projects Fund are, “tea money”.’ BHP also shared how much had been paid to the Cambodian government, adding: ‘In accordance with the terms of a minerals exploration agreement with the Cambodian government which granted BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi the right to explore for bauxite an amount of US$1 million was formally paid to the Cambodian government in September 2006.’”

The Cambodian Embassy in London responded to the publication of Country for Sale with a press release with a color graphic page, saying global witness – A Collection of Rubbish

“Reacting angrily to the report, the Ambassador of Cambodia in the UK, H.E. Nambora Hor, accused Global Witness of being poorly-managed and indulging in hugely-damaging smear campaigns. He called on the wide variety of international bodies which help fund Global Witness to demand an urgent review of its policies and activities. ‘It is naïve for Global Witness to imagine that Cambodia’s international donors are not fully aware of the way the Royal Cambodian Government’s conducts its affairs and its commitment to demonstrating the highest possible standards.’”

Details about this Social Development Projects Fund – who administers these huge amounts of money paid by some foreign companies, and for which purposes, and under whose public monitoring – are not known to the public.

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On 25 February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State published a 2008 Human Rights Report: Cambodia, part of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 16,000 words report on Cambodia states initially:

“The government’s human rights record remained poor. Security forces committed extrajudicial killings and acted with impunity. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions were a continuing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and the press and at times interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic. Domestic violence and child abuse occurred, education of children was inadequate, and trafficking in women and children persisted. The government offered little assistance to persons with disabilities. Anti-union activity by employers and weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.

On February 15, the government passed and promulgated a comprehensive Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation containing provisions criminalizing all forms of human trafficking. By year’s end the Cambodian National Police had arrested perpetrators in 48 trafficking-in-persons and related cases, and the courts had convicted at least 12 persons on trafficking-related charges.”

The Mirror had carried a related report from a Khmer language newspaper on 27 February 2009. On 14 March 2009, we carried a report from another Khmer newspaper, saying:

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses the US Department of State’s Report [on the human rights situation in Cambodia] on behalf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia.”

But later, another Khmer newspaper reported in its 15/16 March 2009 edition: “The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that tens of thousands of families of Khmer citizens suffer human rights violations.” And reports in the Phnom Penh Post of 16 March 2009 show a 9 year old boy standing in the wreckage of his house – sixteen houses in the Rik Reay Community – “Happy Community” – were torn down, and the area is being fenced in. A teacher, living there, said he had received a death threat. “This mistreatment is to force us to agree to their compensation package,” he said. “I am now worried for my personal security because I heard a company staffer on the walkie-talkie saying they would kill me because I am a community leader. I want to tell you that if I die, it was not at the hands of anyone else but because I was murdered by the staff of Bassac Garden City.”

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On 12 March 2009, we carried the headline from a Khmer newspaper, reporting Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth. And in order to elaborate, we added a link to the original text of the March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, where he says:

“Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising against Communist China’s repression in Tibet. Since last March widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride… We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

“Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed…

“Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy…

“We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.”

But while the voice of the Dalai Lama receives wide attention in the international press, there is also another aspect of the history of Tibet, which is not addressed, but to which the People’s Daily Online refers: Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history:

“The Dalai Lama also alleged at a gathering in India’s Dharamsala to mark his 50 years in exile that “these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

“Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has not only been on the wrong side of history, but also has got the history upside down. Miseries of ‘hell on earth’ and ‘untold suffering’ occurred nowhere but in the slavery Tibet symbolized by the Dalai Lama.

“Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

“The feudal serfdom had truly brought ‘untold suffering and destruction’ to the serfs and slaves who accounted for 90 percent of the then population.

“The slavery in Tibet was just ‘hell on earth’ as Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, observed that the Dalai Lama’s theocratic position enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished. That was because he held absolute sway over both this life and the next of the serfs and coerced them with that power.

“In 1959, after the failed rebellion by the Dalai Lama and his followers, the central government of China carried out the long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet…

“But just as the rebellion by the Dalai Lama clique failed disgracefully 50 years ago, its fantasy of ‘Tibetan Independence’ is also doomed to failure, because of the firm opposition from the Chinese people, including the Tibetans in Tibet.”

But the Dalai Lama does not speak of Tibet’s independence, but of national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution, and this within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides do not hear each other in detail to reach mutual understanding. It is easier to maintain an old antagonism than to find ways to a common understanding – a much more difficult task.

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On 13 March 2009, the Mirror carried an article “IMF: Cambodia Cannot Avoid the Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis!” (with reference back to similar IMF statements which we had mirrored on 13 February 2009):

“The Cambodian economy is in a negative status… We are talking about a period of dramatic decline in economic activities. So far, what we have seen is that the depth of the downturn is worse than expected.”

Since many weeks, there were many voices echoing the IMF concerns, even more so, since the Prime Minister had publicly questioned that the international economic downturn – in the so called economically rich countries – has the same social effects in a country like Cambodia. His comparison of rich and poorer countries with elephants and sheep may turn out to be a clue not only to understand the differences, but also to find ways to mitigate the economic problems in Cambodia, in a way industrialized countries cannot do:

“Growth in agriculture can surely prevent Cambodia from falling into an economic crisis, even though some major sectors of the Cambodian economy encounter a downturn.”

A foreign businessman, living in Cambodia, shared his appraisal on 12 March 2009, Putting It in Perspective:

“Now that the U. S. has shed 4.5 million jobs in the past 18 months alone and unemployment stands at 8.1 %, the conventional wisdom is that garment exports will go down substantially as the U. S. is the main market for Cambodia. The current figures appear to prove it, with a 27% decrease in exports for the month of February alone. Last December it was 30%…

“Likewise, tourist arrivals show a 2.9% reduction over the same month last year…

“According to the latest statistics the construction sector is holding sort of firm, although it was reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 jobs were lost there too.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen finds fault with all those predictions, saying that all those number are altogether not that important. What’s important is that people won’t go hungry in Cambodia. All those factory workers that lost their job can go back to their native village where they will find a rice paddy to cultivate, and a family that will take care of them…

“So the garment factory girls come back and find their wooden houses, a functioning family structure, and food to eat. They don’t have problems with heating or air conditioning… They wear simple clothes. There is one communal cell-phone which provides contact to the outside world. Yes, this is a simple life, and Westerners can only look on with widened eyes wondering how people can live like this. But let’s face it – this is reality, not only in Cambodia, but in most of South East Asia. And rural areas are exactly where the majority of the factory workers come from.

“So the fact that people can go back to their village is actually a boon for them. Yes, they are poor but they have to eat. And in this context let’s not look at the social problems, e.g. lack of health care and fundamental education. This is for another, hopefully not too far off, time.

“The Western alternative is no laughing matter. People losing their jobs, lose their homes, their savings along the line, their health care, practically their freedom. In my view it’s much more dire in the West. Recession hits people in the industrialized world much harder.”

Not all readers shared his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s perspective. He responded, “I like a good discussion with contrarian viewpoints, but they need to make sense.”

It is in this same spirit that this issue of the Mirror presents contrary and controversial views. We hope also for a good discussion – but the points put forward need to make sense. And this requires to research complex facts, and to engage in open, rational thinking.

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A High Ranking Official of the Government Criticizes that Foreign Officials Interrupt the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 12.3.2009

Posted on 15 March 2009. Filed under: Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

“A high-ranking official of the Cambodian government stated on Tuesday that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is at present being interrupted and hindered by some foreign officials. The Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, criticized that some foreign officials are making money rather than coming to seek justice for Khmer citizens. The government spokesperson reprimanded them, saying, ‘One case has not yet been finished, and they raise another case. This group wants to extend the time of the court proceedings for their salaries… Many of them try to oppose some of the court actions, so that it cannot proceed. Therefore, we think carefully about all elements of our Article 46, and nobody can block this court.’

“Moreover, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith warned that the Cambodian side might move ahead alone, if foreign officials continue to interrupt the process of seeking justice. He said, ‘We have many elements to consider. If no one does it, we do it. The government has money to do it, but we may do it alone, because the government cannot afford tens of thousands of dollars for the salaries for foreign officials. According to Article 46, as a last resort, the Cambodian government can do it alone, but first, we need to work with the United Nations and then with countries that are members of the United Nations. Then we work with partner countries, and if the third way cannot work, the forth way is that Cambodia will proceed alone.’

Note:

Further information about the history and some arrangements for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal:

Cambodia’s Position on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Presentation by His Excellency Sok An, Senior Minister, Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, President of the Task Force for Cooperation with Foreign Legal Experts and Preparation of the Proceedings for the Trial of Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders, to the Stockholm International Forum Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, 23-24 April 2002

Your Excellencies, Diplomatic Representatives and Participants in this third Stockholm International Forum .

Firstly, I would like to thank the Swedish government for making it possible for the Cambodian delegation to participate in this Forum, giving us the valuable chance to meet and exchange views with scholars, diplomats and legal experts from around the world. Learning from others’ experiences and sharing our own is a precious opportunity for us…

The Paris Peace Agreements of 1991 accorded political legitimacy to the Khmer Rouge and, when UNTAC left Cambodia in 1993, the new coalition government had to cope with the Khmer Rouge continuing policy of civil war and destabilization. We then launched a multifaceted strategy involving political, legal, economic and military campaigns, including the 1994 Legislation to Outlaw the Khmer Rouge, and efforts to encourage its members to defect and split. What Prime Minister Hun Sen has described as a “win-win” policy that has formed the bedrock of the political platform of the Royal Government of Cambodia involves five facets: “divide, isolate, finish, integrate, and develop” in which the Khmer Rouge political and military structure was ended, but those Khmer Rouge who defected were assured of their physical safety and survival, the right to work and to carry out their professions, and the security of their property…

The fifth compromise arose because the United Nations wanted the Law explicitly to exclude the possibility of any amnesty or pardon for those who may be indicted or convicted. According to our 1993 Constitution, the King has the right to give amnesty and pardon and we did not wish this law to contradict our Constitution. As a compromise we agreed to state in the law that the Royal Government of Cambodia will not request the King to grant any amnesty or pardon. Our Prime Minister and I have repeatedly stated that no one is above the law, and it will be entirely up to the Extraordinary Chambers to decide who shall be indicted or convicted…

But we cannot wait forever. Article 46 of our Law makes perfectly clear that, while primacy is given to United Nations participation in the process, if it pulls out, Cambodia is entitled to go ahead to establish the Extraordinary Chambers without the United Nations, hopefully with the participation and support of individual member states and foreign legal personalities, or in the last resort to carry out the trial entirely on its own.

[Bold face highlighting added during editing]

“It should be noted that recently, the foreign co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Robert Petit, had asked to open investigations on more former Khmer Rouge leaders, besides the five former Khmer Rouge leaders already detained in the special detention facility of the tribunal, waiting for hearings. However, the above request of Mr. Robert Petit was strongly opposed by the Cambodian co-prosecutor, Ms. Chea Leang, by strongly raising different reasons . [The US based organization] Human Rights Watch criticized the disagreement between Ms. Chea Leang and Mr. Robert Petit on his request, saying that this is political interference, raising the accusation that there is intervention by the Cambodian government.

“The investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not yet made a decision after the request of Mr. Robert Petit to investigate additional former Khmer Rouge leaders. In the meantime, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country requested the investigation of more former Khmer Rouge leaders, in order to seek justice for the victims of the Killing Fields regime. It is regretted that high ranking officials of the Cambodian government accused foreign officials of the Khmer Rouge tribunal of interrupting the process by requesting to hear more former Khmer Rouge leaders, to be detained at the special detention facility of the tribunal.

“On the other hand, last week, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal amended 27 points of its internal regulations, but did not consider any request by non-government organizations. This results in further criticism of the hybrid tribunal by non-government organizations, for trying to conceal information, related to the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Moreover, the fact that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal did not consider the requests by non-government organizations shows that the special tribunal is under strong political influence.

“It should be noted that in late 2008, many organizations submitted detailed requests for changes in the internal regulations of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Those organizations had said that their requests will lead to more openness: like allowing the public to attend, when those who are arrested are presented for the first time, and like the request to publish information about decisions how differences of opinion between prosecutors and investigating judges in the tribunal were solved. But during the plenary session of the investigating judges of the tribunal last week, these requests by non-government organizations were not raised for discussions.

“In a joint request by five non-government organizations, including the Center for Social Development – CSD, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, and the Cambodian Open Society Justice Initiative, they ask for solutions for apparent problems of interpretation between the Agreement to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, with the United Nations signed in 2003 with the Cambodian government, and the internal regulations of the tribunal. This request was not taken up for discussion during the plenary session of the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while an official hearing of Kaing Gek Iev, called Duch, will be held in late March. This problem creates distrust among national and international observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while corruption allegations at the tribunal are not yet clarified.

“A former US ambassador in charge of war crimes, and an important negotiator to establish the tribunal, Mr. David Scheffer [as ambassador, he participated in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia], said Tuesday that it was not sure whether policy makers of this tribunal consider to publish such decisions or not. Mr. David Scheffer wrote in an email that it is important that they should not conclude and express views in writing about such sensitive points controversial among prosecutors. He added that the 2003 Agreement should be consulted.

“Some of those who observe the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since its beginning said that this tribunal cannot help Khmer citizens, who have been waiting for justice for more than 30 years, to see the real light of justice, because since it was created, the hybrid tribunal, established together with the United Nations, had to encounter various obstacles, especially corruption allegations, which almost makes this tribunal to lose its value. In addition, attacks between Cambodian government officials and foreign officials in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal lead to further postponement the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Some analysts criticized that both the United Nations and the Cambodian government seem not to have the will to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders soon, and to provide justice to the victims who lost their lives during the Killing Fields regime. That is why the recent hearing of Duch on 17-18 February proceeded in a way which was useless [no explanation given why this newspaper comes to this opinion], and then the Cambodian side announced that it will completely run out of money in March. This announcement from the Cambodian side is a shame, since so far, not any Khmer leader has been prosecuted, while millions of dollars were already spent wastefully.

“Anyway, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country want the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders to be conducted soon, to find out who created the Khmer Rouge, and to reveal the reasons that led to the crimes where more than 1.7 million Khmer citizens were killed during the Killing Fields regime.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3709, 12.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #137, 11.3.2009

  • Mr. Hor Namhong Asks the United Nations to Help Street Children
  • [Former Microsoft Corporation chief executive officer] Bill Gates’ Foundation Will Grant Aid to Develop Impoverished Communities in Phnom Penh [according to Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Man Chhoeun]
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen]: The Government Will Strengthen the Education Sector
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Points to the Downturn of Economic Growth in Cambodia in 2008 [which declined to 7.9%]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #362, 12.3.2009

  • [A parliamentarian of the Sam Rainsy Party] Yim Sovann: The Government Must Acknowledge the Serious Situation because of the Downturn of Cambodia’s Economic Growth

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1895, 12.3.2009

  • The Head of the Royal Government of Cambodia Criticizes Protectionist Policies [of other countris because they make some Least Developed Countries to face difficulties to export goods]
  • UNICEF Provides More Than US$6 Million for the Development of the Educational Sector of Cambodia
  • Vietnam [through a visiting commercial delegation] Seeks Development Partners in Cambodia
  • Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth [“March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama” and a response by the People’s Daily Online: “Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history”]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6600, 12.3.2009

  • Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen] Warns that Those Who Continue Running Football Betting Will Be Sued at the Court

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3709, 12.3.2008

  • A High Ranking Official of the Government Criticizes that Foreign Officials Interrupt the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4843, 12.3.2009

  • Cambodia Allows [Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese] People Who Hold Border Passports to Stay [in Cambodia] for One Week
  • A Man Sleeping in the Field to Guard Paddy Rice Was Hit and Killed, and a Small Tractor and 27 Bags of Paddy Rice Were Stolen [police are seeking the culprits – Bavel, Battambang]

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

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The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous – Friday, 13.2.2009

Posted on 14 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror

“Phnom Penh: Even though there are reminders from officials of the Ministry of Agriculture to be careful when using agricultural chemical pesticides, at present, many farmers at different places said that they still cannot give it up. Farmers in Kandal said that the use of agricultural chemical pesticides is still a crucial method that cannot be given up so that their crops provide good yields to meet the markets and their needs. In the meantime, experts found that there are up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides sold on markets, and among them between 40 and 50 types strongly harm the health of consumers.

“Mr. Nob (name provided by the writer), 48, a farmer in a commune of Kandal S’ang district, said that so far, he still uses agricultural chemical pesticides, although he knows that they can affect his health and that of the consumers, because there is no choice.

“Kandal borders on Phnom Penh, and it is a province which supplies agricultural products, such as vegetables and fruits to the markets in Phnom Penh and in other provinces. Some districts along the lower Mekong and Basak rivers are also sources of vegetables.

“Mr. Nob is a farmer growing many kinds of crops, such as cabbage, salad, and [edible] Khatna flowers in his village, in order to supply them to the markets in Phnom Penh. The method he uses to take care of his crops until they provide yields is to use agricultural chemical pesticides that he can buy easily from different places in his locality.

“He said, ‘I must use them so that my crops grow well, and if I do not use them, worms will eat all the crops.’ According to his description, he and his villagers have so far not seen any official experts in agriculture coming to instruct them and to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides, and to start to produce natural poison or natural fertilizer, although nowadays, the Minister of Agriculture and some organizations are encouraging citizens to cut down on the use of agricultural poison or chemical fertilizers, saying one can change to natural fertilizer and natural methods of pest control.

“Responding to this problem, the Svay Prateal commune chief in S’ang, Kandal, Mr. Nuon Soeun, said that agricultural officials did never come to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, but previously, there were organizations coming to help educate farmers some time, but the farmers seemed not interested in it. He added that natural pesticides are likely more difficult to produce and more tiring than to use chemical pesticides.

“He went on to say, ‘I also used to produce poison to prevent insects from destroying some types of crops, it takes half a month at least to find the resources and to mix them. As for chemical pesticides, I just go to the market to buy them, mix them with water, and apply it on crops; that’s all.’

“According to his experience, to produce natural poison to prevent insects, farmers need to find many different resources such as the bark of the Sdao tree, the poisonous fruit of the Sleng tree, and the poisonous bark of the Kantuot tree, and soak them in water that is then used to apply to the crops. He said that doing so is complicated and can make farmers get tired of it. According to information from him, among more than 3,000 families, most of them take up cropping, and up to 90% of them use agricultural chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizer.

“At present, the Ministry of Agriculture, especially the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun, who always goes directly to different localities countrywide, appeals to farmers to change their habits from using agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer to using natural poison and natural fertilizer. The change, that the Ministry of Agriculture wants, is to ensure the health of the farmers themselves and also of the consumers; that is to care for the quality of soil and water – without any poison. Many hazards might happen because farmers use chemical pesticides without proper instruction from experts. Also, the ministry encourages its officials to go to educate farmers at their localities about these problems.

“The S’ang district governor, Mr. Khim Chankiri, and the director of the Kandal Agricultural Department, Mr. Bun Tuon Simona, denied what residents had mentioned: that expert officials never reach out to them to instruct them about the impact of chemical pesticides, and they said that these problems are what they actually are focusing on.

“Mr. Chankiri added that before, district officials went to instruct them about these problems, and moreover, the department had sent officials. He continued to say, ‘Most of them thought it was wasting their time, instead of working on cropping, but they did take part. This is why they said that there was never any official going to educate them regularly.’ As for Mr. Tuon Simona, he said that so far, the agricultural department went to educate them regularly about how to create natural fertilizer and many different measures to protect crops and prevent impacts of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

“However, according to another farmer in another province and some other people, they said the same about the presence of agricultural officials. They said that they rarely saw agricultural officials going to meet farmers, except when there were ceremonies to accompany their higher officials. Actually, relating to this problem, obviously there should be more active outreach by experts than before, rather than pointing to the statements of higher officials. They often assume that lower officials are inactive for different reasons, or they create just project expenses about non existing tasks. Therefore, farmers cannot receive what the Minister wants.

“Regarding this problem, the director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture [CEDAC], Dr. Yang Saing Koma, said that generally, the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer has become already a habit of the farmers. Thus, to change them, takes time and needs participation.

“He added, ‘If the use of chemical products has already become their habit, it is most difficult to change.’

“By now, there are hundreds of types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer on the local markets – according to a study by the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture .

“The project coordinator of CEDAC, Mr. Keam Makarady said that in 2008, the center found there were up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer at the markets all over Cambodia, among which 53% were imported from Vietnam and 37% from Thailand. Among them, from 40 to 50 types can enter into vegetables and fruit, when pesticides are administered on them.

“He emphasized, ‘Talking about chemical substances, we found 147 types, but talking about commercial names of pesticides, there are up to 606 types.’

“According to the findings of the center in 2007, there were only 132 agricultural chemical pesticides on the market, and 472 commercial names. Therefore, within one year, all his increased greatly.

“He said that that those kinds of pesticides are harmful to the health of users, particularly farmers, who use and touch them directly.

“Based on Mr. Makarady words, those pesticides can directly affect farmers, for example they cause getting dizzy and having to vomit, they can damage the stomach and the bladder, cause skin diseases, and weaken the health. They indirectly affect also consumers who eat their products, especially chemical pesticides that can enter into vegetables and fruit.

“Relating to the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, a farmer in Kandal, who grows banana, said (by not mentioning his name), that – in order to meet their demands – farmers use those chemical pesticides. He added that if they grow and their products depend only on the nature, farmers cannot harvest enough to meet the demands of the market.

“He emphasized, ‘After a banana tree loses its flowers, it takes three months for bananas to ripe. But if chemicals are applied, they can make it ripe within two months. Just apply chemicals one or two times, and small bananas grow really big, and they look as if they had been pumped up like a balloon.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13 February 2009

Cheat Khmer. Vol.1, #17, 13-15.2.2009

  • The International Monetary Fund – IMF – Warns about Serious Effects on the Cambodian Economy [if the government does not have proper measures to prevent the effects of the global economic slowdown]
  • The United Nations and the Ministry of Interior Join to Fight Torture

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1872, 13.2.2009

  • [The president of the Cambodian People’s Party and president of the Senate] Samdech Chea Sim Still Supports [the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party and prime minister] Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [he said that the Cambodian People’s Party is still strong and has no internal splits, and that he still supports Mr. Hun Sen to be the prime ministerial candidate of the party]
  • More Than 40 Families Protest in Front of the Municipality with Accusations that Their Land Is Violated [Oddar Meanchey]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #341, 13.2.2009

  • The Opposition Parties Asks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Explain the Global Witness Report and to Arrest the Perpetrators to Be Convicted

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #343, 13.2.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Orders the Council of Ministers, Administered by Sok An, to Take Action against [the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces recently removed] Ke Kim Yan according to the System of Laws [seizing all his machineries, and recalling all soldiers defending his land, to return to their barracks]
  • The Organization World Education Reminds [Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport] Im Sethy to Reinstate Mr. Sun Thun at His Previous Place [Mr. Sun Thun was removed from a high-school to teach at a lower-secondary school, accused of defaming government leaders during his teaching]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #202, 13.2.2009

  • Plan to Collect Taxes in 2009 Might Yield Up to US$500 Million [no figures for 2008 provided for comparison]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #63, .2.2009

  • Minister of Information [Khieu Kanharith] Asks the Region Marketing Director of the Voice of America [Mr. Neal Lavon] to Help Officials of the National Television [by sending them to receive training in the United States of America]
  • The Ministry of Interior Does Not Allow to Hold an Extraordinary Congress of the Norodom Ranariddh Party on 15 February 2009 [because the acting president of the Norodom Ranariddh Party did not legally give the right to Mr. Em Sitha, with his signature, indicating that he is the representative of the party]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3686, 13.2.2009

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Still Ban Khmers to Build a Pagoda Fence Near the Border in Kompong Cham’s Memut District [even though it is not in Vietnamese territory; the district governor, Mr. Chek Sa On, the person who signed the permission for the construction is also the person who came to prohibit it, said that it is a problem on the national level]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

  • The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous
  • In Ten More Years the Cambodian Economy May Have a Stronger Competitive Position [according to a leading institution in organizing conferences]
  • Note (from the announcement):

    Economist Conferences

    Siem Reap, 16 February 2009

    Fees: US$990 Earlybird fee (register by 9 January 2009) – US$1,250 Standard fee

    Business Roundtable with the government of Cambodia – On the verge of a breakthrough?

    “His Excellency Prime Minister Hun Sen has confirmed his support and will deliver the opening keynote address at the event.

    …Cambodia’s prospects as both a tourist destination and a center for enterprise and investment – on paper at least – appear bright.

    …Cambodia will continue to struggle to reassure the international community that the political system itself is sound and fair… How the new government responds to stabilize the economy, and address pressing issues such as poverty and public-sector corruption, will have a significant bearing on the country’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment.

    Key issues to be discussed include:

    • In light of recent oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand, what is the government doing to settle border claims with its neighbors?
    • With predictions that oil could start flowing by as early as 2011, how will the government manage Cambodia’s newfound wealth?
    • In evaluating the investment climate, are private equity firms being overly optimistic?
    • What new business opportunities are there for investment in Cambodia’s much needed infrastructure?
    • Given the recent boom in property development and construction, is greater regulation of the industry necessary and if so, what impact will this have on property investors?
    • How will Cambodia’s garment industry deal with greater competition from China and Vietnam? What is being done to boost efficiency in this important industry?
    • With a recession hitting the US, what is Cambodia doing to diversify its export markets?
    • How will the government offset growing inflation and an increase in commodity prices, particularly of oil?
    • Is Cambodia’s economy ready to move away from de facto ‘dollarization’ to the riel and what will this mean for business?”
  • The UN World Food Program Will Grant US$25 Million for Project Implementations in Cambodia
  • The Economic Policy Committee Asks the Government Four Points in order to Reduce Taxes to Help the Garment Sector [the four measures are: 1. Reducing burdens of taxes, and other expenses. 2. Improving commerce, especially garment export. 3.Commercial financing, and 4. Improving professional relations and responsibility by all sides in the frame of law]
  • Leaders of Different Religions from 16 Countries Meet in Cambodia [they are from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, England, India, Italy, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Uganda, United State of America, and Vietnam]
  • The Financial Crisis Makes Cambodia to Loose US$676 Million, and 44,600 Workers to Loose Employment

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3484, 13.2.2009

  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Prohibits Rohingya Refugees to Enter Siam [Thailand]

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.

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Tuesday, 29.7.2008: National Election Committee Announced that the Election Was Fair, but Civil Society Organizations and Party Representatives Claim It Was Not

Posted on 30 July 2008. Filed under: Week 571 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 571

“The fourth term election day passed, but what is left are irregularities during the election day, leading to the accusation that the election was not fair. As for the National Election Committee [NEC], it announced that the election proceeded freely and fairly, and that there were no significant problems disturbing the election.

“Mr. Mao Sophearith, a member of the NEC, made some general announcements about the election day in a press conference in the afternoon of 27 July 2008, one hour after the election stations had closed, that all election stations had been operational, although it was raining and windy in Koh Kong and in Sihanoukville. There were problems with some ballots, because one election office had dropped the ballots into water in Prey Veng, and the ballots of two election stations in Poipet were not usable, but they were substituted in time. As for security, there was no problem.

“Mr. Mao Sophearith added that there were some irregularities, such as the irregular issuing of Forms 1018, and names missing from voter lists, but these problems happened only in Phnom Penh, there were no such problems in other provinces, he said.

“When asked about the problem that some parties had raised, that for this election tens of thousands of voters had been omitted from the voter lists, Mr. Tep Nitha, the secretary-general of the NEC, responded that during the elimination campaign in 2006, the NEC had eliminated 585,723 names countrywide, and the NEC had announced the elimination of names to clean the list publicly and broadly, and there were monitors from the political parties and from civil society organizations involved.

“Many people said about these irregularities in the election, that they had registered very correctly, some asserted that they had voted two or three times in past elections, but now their names were not found in the voter lists, though they had not changed their place of residence; but the names of some others who had died already, were still on the voter lists.

“A person in Boeng Tumpun said that only one of the four members of their family was on the voter list – the names of the other three could not be found. An old woman said that she had voted during former elections already three times, and she had never changed her residence to any other place, but in this term, she could not find her name; then, she had to go back home with disappointment.

“A man rode on a motorbike to many election offices, but he could not find his name. He just could not believe this, so he decided to ride on his motorbike back to his home, and then returned on foot to many election offices to find his name, but he still could not find it. He said he regretted it very much that he could not vote because his name could not be found. He still cannot imagine how his name can be missing, because he has already voted there times in past elections, and he even had checked and had found his name clearly on the list before the election day.

“Different sources reported that in addition to the aforementioned people, many other people raised similar questions, and some people walked repeatedly to the election stations to find their names, because they could not believing that their names were lost.

“Unofficial sources reported that alone in Chak Angrae Kraom, in Boeng Tumpun, and in Stung Meanchey, tens of thousands of names were missing on the lists.

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [Dr. Kek Galabru], the director of LICADHO, said that if it is true that many names were missing, the election was not fair.

“Mr. Thun Saray, the president of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections’ Board of Directors [COMFREL], mentioned in a press conference at about 7:00 p.m. of 27 July 2008 that names were missing mainly in Phnom Penh. ‘Therefore, we have not estimated the definite number of voters who could not vote.’ However, Mr. Thun Saray stressed that during the elimination of names to clean the voters’ lists, COMFREL had already voiced their concern, because COMFREL had found that approximately 50,000 to 60,000 people’s names had been omitted incorrectly.

“An announcement about preliminary results showed the following:

“On the election day of 27 July 2008, there were serious problems because many voters could not find their election stations, or their names on the lists. Such cases happened in almost all provinces and cities. These irregularities will affect the results of the election, as many people could not vote; though there are many people who could vote, but there are problems as a result of the elimination of voters from the lists, and of the relocation of election stations in some big provinces and cities, such as in Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey, and Kompong Cham, especially in the following areas of Phnom Penh: in Tonle Basak [Dey Krahom and ‘Building Block’ communities, where there had been evictions and relocations], and in Boeng Tumpun.

“Mr. Thun Saray, the president of the board of COMFREL and the director of ADHOC, said, ‘Voters’ lists problems, that many names of voters were missing, that voters did not have information about voting stations (they had not receive the voters’ information papers), misunderstanding among voters about the purpose of voters’ information papers, or they had not received information papers, was the result of technical procedures as well as of political reasons. Mr. Thun Saray added, ‘There is strong disappointment about the voters’ lists problems, with the missing voters’ names, and with voters who did not get get the voters’ information papers; all this led to the decline in the number of voters [to only about 70% of the registered voters, less than during the election in 2003].’

“Mr. Kumaoka Michiya [熊岡路矢], co-chairperson of the People’s Forum on Cambodia Japan [PEFOCJ – active since 1993 – more information is here – カンボジア市民フォーラム – only in Japanese], said that he ‘was disappointed that the voter listing systems was still not reformed.’

“Civil servants and representatives of the local authorities were often present at election stations like in previous years, affecting the decisions of citizens to choose their parliamentarians.

“The issues related to Form 1018, to be provided as identification to voters, still continued into the election day, like in Mondolkiri, although the instruction by the NEC allowed only to issue this form not later than 5:30 p.m. of Saturday, 26 July 2008.

“COMFREL would like to highly appreciate the work of the NEC and of the Armed Forces regarding the election – they worked hard on the election day to process everything peacefully, they prevented the sale of alcohol on the White Day (26 July 2008), and they intervened effectively to prevent the rising of the price of transportation by taxis (to ease the financial burden of citizens traveling to their home towns and villages to vote).

“However, some parties provided transportation to voters, workers from Phnom Penh, to go to other provinces on the White Day, and to cities such as Svay Rieng and Kompong Cham. Political parties also distributed presents to voters in Champei village, Angkor Chey commune of Kampot, and in Kompong Rou and Kompong Trabaek districts in Prey Veng.

“Also, the Armed Forces were sent by the Ministry of Information to stop the broadcasts of Radio Moha Nokor, FM 93.5 MHz, at night (at around 11:00 p.m. of 26 July 2008), without any related documentation from this ministry until the morning of 27 July 2008, when the Ministry of Information announced to revoke the license of this radio station, stating as the reason that this radio station had disregarded the instruction of the Ministry of Information, and the guiding principles of the NEC, which had asked the Ministry of Information to intervene. Mr. Kol Panha [the director of COMFREL] said, ‘The implementation of legislation to punish any media who violate the laws, the procedures, and the guiding principles of the NEC was not handled fairly, according to the law.’

“COMFREL primarily has found some irregularities such as the following:

White Day [26 July 2008]

  • An activist of the Cambodian People’s Party was murdered in Siem Reap.
  • A political party activist was intimidated in Kampot.
  • There were four cases of distributions of presents in Champei commune, Angkor Chey district, Kampot, and in Svay Rieng.

  • Election and Ballot Counting Day [27 July 2008]

  • A Human Rights Party activist was murdered in Kandal.

  • Violation of Procedures

  • Local authorities, village chiefs, and commune chiefs, were present near election stations to observe voters, making them afraid; this happened in almost all election stations in Labansiek of Ratanakiri, Kratie, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, and Svay Rieng.
  • Voters’ names were missing (the voters came to the election stations, but they could not find their names) in Boeng Tumpun for more than 30% of the voters (of a total of about 10,000 voters), about 50% in the Tonle Basak district and the Dey Krahom community, about 20% to 30% in the Stung Meanchey School [the schools serving as election stations], and in the Chak Angrae Kraom School of Chak Angrae Kraom district, Boeng Reang district, Boeng Trabaek School, Tuek L’ak, Kouk commune, Dambae of Kompong Cham, Traeng Trayueng commune, Phnom Sruoch of Kompong Speu, Daem Mien commune, Takhmao of Kandal, Ou Ambel commune, Serei Saophoan of Banteay Meanchey (Prohuot Primary School), Kompong Chhnang, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey, Kandal, and Battambang.

  • There were cases that local authorities and village and commune chiefs continued to create Form 1018 identification documents on the election day in Labansiek, commune and district of Ratanakiri, Prek Pnov commune, Ponhea Lueu district of Kompong Cham, Sihanoukville, Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, and Phnom Penh.
  • There were at least 12 cases of vote buying by giving money to voters, or promising to give money to some if they do not go to vote, which happened in Khvav commune, Traeng district of Takeo, Kompong Thom, Stung Treng, Kompong Rou commune of Prey Veng, Kompong Chhnang, and Svay Rieng.
  • There were at least two cases where cars with sign of the Cambodian People’s Party were driving up and down repeatedly in front of election stations in Pailin and in Kandal.
  • There were cases where political parties transported citizens to vote in Sampov Lun commune and district of Battambang (Office Number 0722), Labansiek of Ratanakiri, Svay Rieng, and Oddar Meanchey.
  • There were cases that the manager of a restaurant and hotel in Phnom Penh prohibited about 60% of 40 employees to vote.
  • There are five cases known where voters voted instead of another person, in Sralau commune, Malai district of Banteay Meanchey, Phsar Daeum Thkov, Kompong Cham, and Svay Rieng.
  • There were cases that thousands of voters as groups wore campaign T-shirts in Takeo.
  • There were four cases where voters wore police and soldier’s uniforms into the election station at the Department of Culture of Ratanakiri, in Takeo, and in Phnom Penh.
  • There was a case that a person went to the secret voting booth to talk to a voter.
  • There is one case of taking back a voters list from observers in Takeo.
  • There was one case that an office was closed during lunchtime in Russey Keo district.
  • There were 10 cases where voters could vote because they had just the voter information papers and their party member identification.
  • There was one case where one person was able to vote twice in Phnom Penh.
  • There was the case that observers were not allowed to go into the Chroy Ambel election station in Chambak, Kratie.”
  • Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3371, 29.7.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 29 July 2008


    Chakraval, Vol.16, #2797, 29.7.2008

    • Results by the Morning of 28 July 208: Cambodian People’s Party Won 90 Seats, Sam Rainsy Party Won 26 Seats, Human Rights Party Won 3 Seats, Funcinpec Won 2 Seats, and Norodom Ranariddh Party Won 2 Seats


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1705, 29.7.2008

    • Twelve Hours of Cambodia-Thailand Talks Led to Agreement that Both Sides Will Withdraw Their Troops [before dealing with other problems – 28 July 2008 – Siem Reap – but no timing set for the withdrawal]
    • Seven Shiites Who Marched in a Pilgrimage in Iraq Were Shot Dead [by anonymous gunmen]


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #209, 29.7.2008

    • Samdech Euv Norodom Sihanouk Is Concerned that Siam [Thailand] Swallows Koh Kong of Cambodia [through investments by Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra]
    • Four Parties Wining Seats [Sam Rainsy Party, Human Rights Party, Norodom Ranariddh Party, and Funcinpec] Rejected the Bad Election Proceedings on 27 July 2008 [through a joint statement on 28 July 2008]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6409, 29.7.2008

    • Phnom Penh Authorities Warned [opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Not to March in Protest [against the results of the election]; They Said, ‘They Should Not Cause Turmoil while Thailand Is Invading our Border’
    • Poipet Border Crossing Is Quiet after Invasion by Thailand at the Preah Vihear Temple Region; More Illegal Khmer Laborers Are Sent Back by Thailand
    • Two Cars Plunged into the Water [into a canal in Kandal and a river in Kompong Cham] Killing Four People at Two Different Places
    • Nepal Police Arrested 125 Tibetan Demonstrators [at the Chinese Consulate in Kathmandu]


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3524, 29.7.2008

    • Mr. Sam Rainsy Calls International Observers Not to Recognize Election Results [claiming that in Phnom Penh, about 200,000 voters lost their right to vote]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4653, 29.7.2008

    • Japan Welcomes the Election in Cambodia to Have Been Held in the Best Atmosphere [according to a statement on 28 July 2008 by the Japanese Observer Team with 23 observers]
    • President of OPEC [Chakib Khelil]: Oil Price Could Drop to US$70 [per barrel if US dollar were strong and the nuclear crisis related to Iran gets solved]
    • 70 Rebels in Afghanistan [near Pakistan border] Were Killed [in an attack by Afghanistan in corporation with NATO troops]


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3371, 29.7.2008

    • National Election Committee Announced that the Election Was Fair, but Civil Society Organizations and Party Representatives Claim It Was Not
    • National Television of Cambodia [TVK] Showed Only Leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party during the Election Campaign

    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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