Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer
Mealtime of Street Children
He had a meal in a local restaurant without having to pay. Is it a free meal for this kid? He is a boy of about 12 years old. He is neither a son of high ranking officials, nor of wealthy families. He trades his own labor to make a living.
As a shoes polish boy in the city of Phnom Penh, he work more than 8 hours a day, much more than ordinary people. Unfortunately he earns much less than them. At dinner time, I chose to eat outside. I went to a local store for dinner. It was where I observe him. After two guests sitting at another table left, he was there. It was his turn. As some food left, it was his. He grabbed the left food into a plastic bag, and handed it his another younger boy, probably his colleague. I was asked to have my shoes polished, but unfortunately it was black sandal, not my dress shoes. At least he works for himself and by himself. And it is a life of many street children in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. He will never starve to death.
Everyone learn to live their lives on their own and in their own ways.
SUBMITTED BY: ThaRum
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Thu, 26 May 2005
Sihanouk Incredulously Bias
By Prak Hap May 8, 2005
In the wake of recent development of the so called Supreme Border Council of seven members headed by former King, Mr. Sihanouk, has grabbed many headlines in Cambodia press circle including state manipulated TVK. Apparently Cambodia real detrimental problems i. e UN KR Trial, Human Rights Deprivation, Reduction of Poverty have been cleverly diverged by the true masters once again. Relatively all played down as non-urgent.
On May 5, 2005 Mr. Sihanouk made known to his targeted website surfers most external and non Cambodians likely press that he was not granting audience to people advocates such Mr. Sean Peng Se, Mr. Sam Raingsi and Ms. Chak Saroeun prior to the so called official meeting scheduled for May 11, 2005 at his residence in Beijing due to his eminent physician order and avoiding appearance of reconciliatory with opposition of CPP+ FUNC agendas.
I assumed these three individuals may not be strangers to his residence and diner companionship in the recent past. I am wondering why he is denying his acquaintances request to privately and sincerely pay his royal homage. Two strokes already within few weeks of his announcement, first the delayed return and meeting then the second denials of his own responsibility that France ceded lands to neighbors but not his fore bearers, or DK-PRK's Hun Sen- his immediate superior.
Obviously Mr. Sihanouk curled up in his own created biases and self-excuses. He shamelessly linked up his own poor excuses with France's Napoleonic's likened Pol Pot personas who slaughtered millions and had allowed Siam or An Nam to carved up Khmer territories prior to Nay Duong or the French protectorate arrival. For the record Sihanouk liked to relive the Napoleonic personas and glory as he wished was his own. Unfortunately he was no Napoleonic nor was Cambodia no France then or now.
Is there CPP conditional and fearful directive upon its subordinate namely Sihanouk from revealing?
With this scenario reminded many of us of the DK-FUNK 75-91 scare tactic to hold people hostage under their suppressive and dictatorial control. No one dared to resist or displeased rulers otherwise the rest of family would be accounted for the fatal consequences. Undoubtedly this reflected CPP's Hun Sen convenient leverage and very same tactic to blackmail Mr. Sihanouk as his naive son King and the rest of his royal clans be easily contained by CPP supreme enforcer order. Once Cambodia record shown Mr. Sihanouk was a fearful Maccu Raj (King of Death) but today that authority belongs to his superior instead.
Unadvisedly Mr. Iron Fists got a grab of Mr. Sihanouk by the be-all (the usual discretely where and what), therefore, his Endeavour is not so immune and impartial as he would have claimed to be. Clearly he was not as smart as many seemed to think.
This is his last breath to implore Hun Sen for merciful amnesty and pardon if the UN sponsored KR Trial found him guilty of heinous crime against humanity. The sentence could carry out after his death as he personally had ordered Dap Chhuon Mochul Pech body chained up to the grave site as a stern warning to the livings that treason was the serious crime even after death the victim still bore eternal court sentence and some form of imprisonment.
According to Buddhist teaching, Mr. Sihanouk has willfully violated Pancca Sila and Eight Fold Paths profoundly. Therefore his bad deeds slowly come to haunt him and oblige his siblings to weigh in their share while still living. All of his words and deeds or whatsoever were groundless and incredible.
The history has shown over and over how cruel Sihanouk was and all about him and cliques not Cambodia people. Therefore it is time for all to re-evaluate his action and responsibility to safe keep lives and nation from his self delusion and disorientation.
Please don't mistake wolf hidden violent nature for a shepherd dog appearance. Wake up people, Sihanouk is no friend of your dead or alive family members as he had colluded with colonialist France and expansionist An Nam, devious killers, and dictators for all of his living years.
SUBMITTED BY: prak hap
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Sun, 8 May 2005
Cambodia's troublesome borders
By Verghese Mathews
Just last week the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first ever Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, and separately remembered the 30th anniversary of the arrival in Phnom Penh of the Khmer Rouge. Both, in retrospect, were audacious events; both had outrageously held out promises of hope at a time when such hope was at a premium. Neither delivered.
Bandung collapsed within a decade, though it arguably was a catalyst in the subsequent formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Khmer Rouge effectively held demonic control of a dehumanized people for all of three years, eight months and 20 days - but managed within that short span to unleash an unprecedented and unimaginable brutality on a gentle land.
One person who would have vivid memories of both events is former Cambodian monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who now goes by the revered title Father-King.
Sihanouk, 33 years old at the time of the first Bandung summit, had a couple of years earlier secured Cambodia's independence from the mighty French. He will remember it was at Bandung that he was introduced to and became a life-long friend and admirer of then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai and, subsequently, of succeeding Chinese leaders.
That relationship probably saved Sihanouk's life when he became a virtual prisoner in his palace during the Khmer Rouge regime. Like other Cambodian families, Sihanouk lost several of his children to the brutality inflicted by the Khmer Rouge. In 1979, the Chinese airlifted Sihanouk and the surviving members of the royal family to Beijing just before the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia began.
Sihanouk is now 82, and far less healthy, with multiple medical problems, such as cancer. According to the latest report, posted on May 1 on the royal website, "recent follow-up showed progression of a tumor [related to a gastric lymphoma]. Another course of chemotherapy [has been] suggested."
Still, there is the old fire in his belly. Nobody writes Sihanouk off. He remains an extraordinary patriot and a force to contend with in Cambodian politics.
Since January this year he has traveled overseas - initially for his regular medical treatments, but he stayed on as an open expression of his unhappiness with political developments at home. One long-standing peeve of his has been the question of Cambodia's territorial integrity; in particular, the bilateral border agreements signed with Vietnam at the time of its occupation of Cambodia.
Sihanouk never recognized those agreements. Neither have several other groups, including the royalists and the Cambodian diaspora.
On March 31, Sihanouk unexpectedly wrote an open letter in French accusing Thailand, Vietnam and Laos of continuing "to nibble away little by little the villages, lands, seas, and islands belonging to Cambodia, an ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] member just like you".
In an unofficial English translation of the letter Sihanouk declared that, "The nation, the people and the state of Cambodia (Kampuchea) would not accept to lose (unfairly and illegally to your unjustifiable gain) even one square meter, one-tenth of a square meter, or a square centimeter of her (land and maritime) territorial integrity, which she owned in all legality and legitimacy as clearly indicated in the military maps produced by the USA (your friends, an ex-enemy of Norodom Sihanouk). These are maps produced between 1963 (one year after the equitable verdict on Preah Vihear by the Hague International Court of Justice) and 1969 (one year before the anti-constitutional putsch by Lon Nol, Sirik Matak and co, the satellites of Uncle Sam and President Richard Nixon)."
Sihanouk went on, in the same tone, to point out that numerous villages belonging to poor Khmer people living well within Cambodia during his reign (1955-1969) now find themselves located in Vietnamese territory.
"Everyone knows that the new maritime borders delimitation between Cambodia and Thailand on one hand, and between Cambodia and Vietnam on the other hand, gave enormous advantages, in terms of seas and islands, to these two large neighbors with respect to what these two large neighbors owned up to 1969."
Sihanouk called on his neighbors to respect international law, the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, and the UN Charter, "by accepting, with a fair play which will avoid you dishonor, to surrender to the current Cambodia the villages, lands, seas, and islands that you had stolen and took away from us".
Sihanouk invited Thailand, Vietnam and Laos to join Cambodia "with an open heart, and as soon as possible" to jointly verify "kilometer by kilometer, on the ground and on the spot of the delimitation of our common borders found in the US geographic maps produced by Washington DC between 1963 and 1969".
The stridency in Sihanouk's letter may have surprised many, as he is by nature and reputation extremely polite and ever conscious of proper protocol. Writing in his personal capacity, as an ordinary citizen, he let his emotions flow.
Territorial integrity and border encroachment remain a sensitive issue in Cambodia's relations with its neighbors and in domestic Cambodian politics. Sihanouk has himself been a severe critic of the border agreements reached between Cambodia and its neighbors during the 1979 to 1991 period of the Vietnamese occupation.
Sihanouk is not alone in this. The Paris-based Cambodian Border Committee (CBC), which is dedicated to the return of territory lost during the Vietnamese occupation, has outlined the most significant border agreements as:
The Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation Treaty dated February 18, 1979: valid for a period of 25 years, and [which] will tacitly be renewed every 10 years if one of the two contracting parties does not notify in writing to the other party its desire to repeal it one year before its expiration date; the agreement on the maritime zone, also known as the Historical Waters Agreement, dated July 7, 1982, which recognized both the SRV [Socialist Republic of Vietnam] annexation of many Cambodian islands, along with a considerable portion (30,000 square kilometers) of its sea water; the Agreement on the Border Statute and the Treaty on the Principle of Resolution of Borders Issues, dated July 20, 1983, which recognized the free crossing of the Cambodian border and the surge of Vietnamese settlers into Cambodia, along with a new border delineation; the Treaty on the Border Delimitation, dated December 27, 1985, which recognized new settlements (on the demarcation) of land borders between the two countries from north to the south along an overall border length of 1,230km - settlements imposed by Vietnam in accordance to the agreements with the PRK [People's Republic of Kampuchea] dated July 20, 1983, July 13, 1984, and November 6, 1984.
Within Cambodia, Sihanouk's letter accelerated the implementation of an agreement that had earlier been reached between the dominant Cambodian People's Party of Hun Sen and the royalist Funcinpec Party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh to form a seven-member Supreme National Council on Border Issues to resolve the long-standing and acutely sensitive, emotional issue.
Each of the three political parties, including the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, has nominated a member to the national council, as have the Senate, the National Assembly and the government. Cambodia's current King Norodom Sihamoni had the prerogative of appointing the chairman, and in the event he invited his father, Sihanouk, who accepted. The king said that Sihanouk, in his sunset years, wished "to serve the nation and the people in the framework of his mission to protect the kingdom's territorial integrity".
It is more than likely that King Sihamoni had the tacit understanding of Hun Sen and Ranariddh in the offer. A long-time observer privately suggested that since Sihanouk has been highly critical of an existing border committee of officials, appointing him to chair the new supra body was one way of resolving the problem.
Sihanouk has mighty problems ahead of him. He intends to meet with all council members soon after his return to Phnom Penh - members who are clearly divided down the middle with some supporting the validity of the agreements reached during the Vietnamese occupation and others rejecting it outright and demanding demarcation on the basis of detailed maps issued by the US in the 1960s.
The Cambodians need to speak with one voice, otherwise their cause is lost even before the negotiations begin. A far greater problem for Sihanouk will be with the neighbors whose feathers he has already ruffled with his open letter. Emotions must necessarily give way to hard facts, legitimate documents and much patience and tolerance.
Notwithstanding his well-honed skills, his subtle persuasiveness and his renowned charm, Sihanouk has a mammoth problem ahead. The negotiations could drag and perhaps take more years than Sihanouk can spare.
SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews
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4 May 2005
Former King Sihanouk to head a sensitive and difficult mission
Tue, 3 May 2005
Former King Norodom Sihanouk, who has been on an extended stay in Beijing since January this year, partly for his regular medical consultations and partly as an expression of his unhappiness over certain domestic political developments, is now expected to return soon to Phnom Penh.
Concern and speculation over the health of the 82 year old King-Father, as he has been designated since his retirement in Oct 2004, were heightened when his son, King Norodom Sihamoni, left for Beijing on 23 April to be with his father.
A newspaper hastily contacted Sihanouk's biographer in its preparation of an obituary. This and other speculation prompted the former King to apologise, tongue-in-cheek, for not being able to oblige those who were prematurely predicting his demise explaining that "for the moment, God and the Buddha have not decided to send me to the afterlife."
While this was welcome news and put an end to fears about the health of the much-loved former monarch, most Cambodians were not prepared for an unexpected development that followed - the retired King accepted an invitation to chair the newly formed Supreme National Council on Border Issues.
In a letter from Beijing to Prime Minister Hun Sen, King Sihamoni said that his father had accepted his invitation to lead the Council explaining that, "at the end of his life, he wishes to serve the nation and the people in the framework of his mission to protect the kingdom's territorial integrity". The King added that Sihanouk was "still full of energy to fulfill this duty"
The King went on to mention that if neighbours Vietnam, Thailand and Laos were agreeable to appoint representatives, Sihanouk would enter into discussions with them on the modality for undertaking the demarcation of the disputed borders based on detailed maps prepared by the US in the sixties.
Border integrity is a sensitive issue in Cambodia's relations with its neighbours and in domestic Cambodian politics. Sihanouk has himself been a severe critic of the border agreements reached between Cambodia and her neighbours during the 1979 to 1991 Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Sihanouk is not alone in this. There is a strong and vocal lobby not only in the country but among overseas Cambodians who argue that not only had Cambodia significantly lost out territories in these agreements but that encroachment of Cambodian land has continued unabated to this day.
To drive home the point, a story circulated not too long ago that the family home along the Cambodian Vietnam border, of Heng Samrin, the Honorary President of the CPP, was now in Vietnamese territory.
Not surprisingly, too, border integrity was an issue during the last elections and again factored in the negotiations between the dominant Cambodian Peoples Party and the royalist Funcinpec (FCP). Interestingly, it is now FCP, the party founded by Sihanouk, which is championing the border cause and calling for the implementation of the previously-agreed seven-member supra-council in which the King, the National Assembly, the Senate, the Government and the three political parties nominate a representative each.
The King nominates the Chairman of the Council and in the event has chosen his father, a decision that must have had the tacit support of CPP leader Hun Sen and FCP leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the King's half-brother.
The former King's acceptance of the important post suggests a much-welcomed easing of tensions between him and the politicians and paves the way for him to return home to the welcome of a people he genuinely cares for.
There are, however, serious difficulties ahead for Sihanouk's Council. In the first instance, he has to work out an internal consensus among the heavyweight politicians who are Council members. They represent those who want the cancellation of all bilateral border treaties entered upon between 1979 and 1991 and those who uphold the validity of the existing treaties.
Sihanouk has the skills, the experience and the personal standing to hammer out a loose working arrangement.
His major difficulty will be in dealing with his neighbours - especially given his intention of basing the negotiations on the maps prepared by the Americans in the sixties. Even if the modality for the negotiations are agreed upon, the process can take years.
There is already in existence a Border Committee which has been negotiating with the neighbouring countries on the basis of the border agreements already in force. There has yet been no official disclosure on the future of this Committee,which is not universally popular, but which some believe can serve the new body on technical matters.
Given Sihanouk's strident criticisms about the loss of Khmer land, there are those who believe that heading the Supreme Border Council presents him the opportunity to bring his wisdom to bear on this sensitive issue.
The neighbours, however, will not easily forget a strongly worded open letter Sihanouk sent on 31 March this year to the governments of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on the loss of Khmer land. He pointed out that Cambodia was not clamouring for "her lands, seas, and islands" lost during "the post-Angokorian Period from the 15th to 19th century and even after that"
Sihanouk continued, however, that " the Nation, the People, and the State of Cambodia (Kampuchea) would not accept to loose (unfairly and illegally to Your unjustifiable gain) even one square meter, one-tenth of a square meter, or a square centimeter of her (land and maritime) territorial integrity which she owned in all legality and legitimacy as clearly indicated in the military maps produced by the U.S.A. (Your Friends, an ex-Enemy of Norodom Sihanouk): these are maps produced between 1963 (one year after the equitable Verdict on Preah Vihear by the Hague International Court of Justice) and 1969 (one year before the anti-constitutional Putsch by Lon Nol, Sirik Matak and Co., the satellites of Uncle Sam and President Richard Nixon).
"Since my return to my Homeland, in 1991 up until now, I had, alas, observed that You 3 (Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos) never ceased, do not cease and continue to nibble away little by little the villages, lands, seas, and islands belonging to Cambodia, an ASEAN member just like You. "To cite only the villages belonging to poor Khmer people [living] near Vietnam, numerous of these villages which, under the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Era (1955-1969), were well within Cambodia, now find themselves located within the S.R. of Vietnam boundary; these villages are well kept and protected by militia and soldiers of this S.R.V. Everyone knows that the new maritime borders delimitation between Cambodia and Thailand on one hand, and between Cambodia and Vietnam, on the other hand, gave enormous advantages, in terms of seas and islands, to these 2 large neighbors with respect to what these 2 large neighbors owned up to 1969.
"The Cambodian People, all Khmer men and women both inside and outside of Cambodia, who are not traitors to their Homeland, request that You nobly come to respect international Law, the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia, and the UN Charter, by accepting, with a fair play which will avoid you dishonor, to surrender to the current Cambodia the villages, lands, seas, and islands that You had stolen and took away from us.
"Since You had claimed to the world that You are neither thieves nor gulpers of Khmer villages, lands, seas, and islands, please accept with open heart and as soon as possible, my Proposal of verification, kilometer by kilometer, on the ground and on the spot of the delimitation of our common borders found in the U.S. geographic Maps produced by Washington D.C.between 1963 and 1969) by both Your accredited envoys and by those of Cambodia."
These are tough words which explains the deep emotions over the issue. Emotions, however, will not resolve border problems anywhere in the world - what's needed are documents, maps, goodwill,patience and tolerance. Fortunately, Sihanouk has the astute political sense and the long experience to rise above emotions. He,nevertheless, has a tough job ahead of him.
Postscript: Sihanouk was expected to return to Cambodia on 8 May but this has had to be delayed as his doctors in Beijing have just recommended further treatment. Given this, Sihanouk has invited the members of the Supreme National Council to travel to Beijing for the inaugural meeting.
The writer, until recently Singapore's Ambassador to Cambodia, is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews
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Tue, 3 May 2005