Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, February 25, 2005

What will Be the Future of Dissenting View in Cambodia Parliamentarian Government?

February 24, 2005


What will Be the Future of Dissenting View
in Cambodia Parliamentarian Government?
By Prak Hap-FLUS



The Assembly of real gentlemen and ladies of the laws had made move to infringe the rare voice of opposition on February 3, 2005. The vocal critics and truth seekers as it seemed have been ousted by hand raising votes in stacking number. According to article appeared on Kohsantepheap daily 12-03-2004, it pointed out Mr. Sam Rainsy legal filing suit to seek truth in regard to the 1997 incident-grenade tossing at the demonstrators was a political motivated plot backed by Mr. Hun Sen to eliminate the oppositions.


The legal process has taken place but yet incomplete. No one knows for sure who is the real culprit? The contentious dual turned out to be misfortune for Mr. Sam Rainsy. One thing is true that, most people do not like to loose and in this case Mr. Sam Rainsy bore the brunt alone.

In this battle who is the real loser?

My opinion the whole Parliamentarian system is a loser eventually. World democracy is watching and Cambodia citizen suffers the short change all the time. In truth, it is not necessary that the opposition lost but all the voters lost their rights to be heard and expressive. Mr. Sam Rainsy and his two other colleagues were no strangers to the rest of MPs. They are Khmers who tried to do the same things for their constituency but in the Constitution in Chapter VII Article 77: states” the deputies in the Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified.”

Therefore, what Mr. Sam Rainsy and his group did was not supposedly to be just only for Khmers from their constituencies. So it led to another argument, what was the rest of Assembly did for? Their constituencies alone or what? How the justification worked for the majority but not Mr. Sam Rainsy and colleagues?

In a sane opinion, President R. Ridh or Prime Minister Hun Sen is not the entire Khmer population and they are not so innocent either. I don’t know these two gentlemen personally, according to press they are not that Koshered. One thing about press, they are bound by journalistic ethic. They supposed to report what they see and hear with both side verification. No put down here, I may have some reservations about some Cambodia reporters whose motifs are not journalistic truth but Mr. Benjamin Franklin bills. That is another problem. People eat food not news.

Other side of the coin, if Mr.Sam Rainsy is found malicious and groundless to accuse such god-like Hun Sen and Rannaridh but the court has not done its duty to prove otherwise yet. Who says the two are crook and hellishly dishonest? Why people say that? People let’s not lose your sense because of pledge of allegiance to certain group. If you have some conscience left please use it. It is your duty to protect people. Look each of MP got $2,000 a month working in nice A/C and plush offices, let‘s not be complacent and insult voters because of affiliation with big wigs in Phnom Penh.

I like to say this un-religiously, according to natural or universe law, what goes up must come down or what goes around comes around, right? What happened to Mr. Sam Rainsy, Mr.Cheam Channy, and Mr. Chea Poch may be in violation of the constitution but I guess your guys don’t care as long as you don’t lose $2,000 per month.

The concern is why other parliamentarians are so wrapped in the partisanship not the voters’ interest. The question is the MPs for the people or each of their respective Party? If each of them allowed this to happen then the Constitution means nothing. They are next when the Party bosses do not like them.

Kohsantepheap Newspaper on 12-3-2004 said the PRK MP H.E Samrin Heng stated that such move to remove H.E Sam Rainsy from his mandated duty as people representative is in the hand of H.R.H Speaker R. Ridh. What are the unethical violations that MP Sam Rainsy committed against the parliament rules? Is it the truth that he opted to fully expose the leadership wrongdoings to the public? What are the rest of MPs from CPP /Funcipec doing? Buffing zones or rubber stamp may be both.

Let consider that each Party can voice its dissenting views but each should not disregard the Constitutional mandate and rights. Executive Branch is accountable to the Legislative Branches scrutiny. They are public servants. As private citizen, according to Article 38:”the accused shall be considered innocent until the court has judged finally on the case.” Then Article 39:” Khmer citizen shall have the right to denounce, make complaints or file claims against any breach of the law by State and social organs or by members of such organs committed during the course of their duties, The resettlements of complaints and claims shall reside under the competence of the courts.” That is one step up for such historical violent society, Cambodia.

It may be the case that MP Sam Rainsy filed suit against PM Hun Sen in the best interest of people. MP Sam Rainsy is entitled to do such as private citizen in the eyes of laws as well. But his action is on behalf of people. The leadership and the rest of MP headless body are concerned of the guilts of their beloved leaders. This reminded me a parallel in Khmer saying ”Gaur dombao khnang Khaek hour rom long romsai kontouy.”

Why the rest of MPs including the leadership did not see that? However, if the Legislative branches condone such move then the principles of true democracy is in serious jeopardy. The dilemma for Cambodia democracy and its citizen is at cross road. Are we still in tune with the stronger rules and live or let live mantra?

One citizen rights not respected is one too many.

SUBMITTED BY: Prak Hap Thursday, 24 Feb 2005


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Monday, February 21, 2005

Open letter to: Pro-Viet scholars

February 17, 2005
By Prak Hap FLUS


Subject: Luke Hunt ruffled scholars’ feathers with his book review” Cambodia after Khmer Rouge by Evan Gottesman”

Let me started with E. H Carr’s definition of history: as a body of ascertained facts. What’s a historical fact? What passes as a fact of history is in fact made into such by a historian’s conscious decision. However, for a historian attempting to write a history of the Third Indo China War the problem is more basic than that of exercising subjective judgment in choosing facts from a plethora of events. There simply may not be enough relevant information to choose from. Other than relating self-serving selections of confidential documents, the communist governments of China, Viet Nam, and Cambodia are unlikely to open their archives to independent historians,” (Enemy Brother book, by Nayan Chanda p.ix).

Historically since 1700 Viet Nam has not been a grateful neighbor to Cambodia. This letter is to voice out the conflicting history done by Non-Khmer scholars. Among few alive on the planet, Mr. Michael Vickery was recognized as an absolute authority on Khmer tragic history but Mr. Michael Vickery has not been nearly candid about the situation. There is no such thing called anti-Viets. The gentlemen had points of arguments but yet the truth remains. It is self-rule and respect. Let’s be honest, how well that Engle live with Gaelic or Scott descendants? How about people of old Palestine presently called Israel? Viets disliking anyone referring them by their ancient origin, Yuan. Apparently Mr. Vickery was bias for that matter.

I recalled Dhammasad elite University students in Bangkok (Ly Beng Long aka Nuon Chea or Loeuth old school) shared their views and reference of krieat bak ha khi kong Yuan as non-trustworthy back biting or a lot worst. Generally Thais or Laos share the same feeling toward Viets. It is blatantly irresponsible that the perceptions were laid on Khmer such as General Lon Nol heavily uneven as racist, lunatic, and inhumane. He was a good and leveled head person who believed in and defended his people. . This makes me wonder how the Mr.Vickery makes out of US present occupation in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reviewer, Mr. Luke Hunt a journalist attempted to provide non-bias cheering opinions and academic measured praises on the recent published book namely, Cambodia After Khmer Rouge by the young zealous author alias barrister, Mr. Evan Gottesman. Pointedly Mr. Gottesman book might have skirted up Mr. Vickery’s self-serving selections of confidential documents of the PRK government. Adversely, Mr. Vickery did not think so he categorically put Mr. Hunt book review as non-sense and discriminatory.

He went on to say in 1979 there was nothing as “elite” but I say Mr. Vickery can’t tell the difference, which is serpent or snake. The same scenario goes for those PRK or DK. There were plenty of them. Again and again in Cambodia where everything relevant to cultural root, as elite is not necessary mean in western view. It is an inheriting badge of namesake. That might have embarrassed Mr. Vickery that some one else has more courage to speak the truth.

As for “Rape or violence against women”, the absolute and gross human rights violation. Remember there was no explicit distinction between PRK and DK. So does the North and South Viet Nam. All are in the same mentality. Viet soldiers raped many young women at gunpoint whom I knew parents. I am stunned that Mr. Vickery seemed to vigorously defend such abusers. Cambodia women were bound by their traditional value and norms “face.” The victims may not speak about such disgrace openly especially if her life is in jeopardy.

Further, Mr. Vickery claimed to see voluminous literatures on the period I find that hard to accept. All books were valued as cigarette papers. Worst no one dared to write anything for publishing. As far as the Constitution matters, I don’t believe Mr. Luke Hunt needed approval from Mr. Vickery to conclude Goats-man (although Gottes-man knew it) book review as Mr. Vickery was edging his denigration. Not all Khmers were brain-dead. In a nutshell that’s proved E.H. Carr synthesis. I rest my case.

Foreign language options for students then were not French or English but Viet, Russian and elective Cuban’s Spanish verse. My relative who later admitted that medical school was no medical training but political indoctrination with Russian instructors. French-Russian-French dictionary was a rare treat for students in Faculte de Medicine then. I had no doubt my relative and others made up thing. They were there. I hope Mr. Vickery is familiar with French Fables’ Monkey vs. Goat dispute over Farmer Lunch by Mr. Lafontaine.

Pen Sovan matter- No one surprised that former Premier Pen Sovan was stripped from power. Also Mr. Pen Sovan was one of the major PRK historical facts. He knew Viet Nam true intent. But Mr. Vickery claimed to know more than the natural never mind Mr. Gottesman and the rest. In this case his claim proved he has accesses to voluminous false documents.

In Chan Si’s death warranted strong credibility of Viet Nam intent with help from its young –naïve client. This reflected Mr. Sihanouk conspiracy in 60’s claiming Khieu Samphan, Hou Nim, and Hou Youn were executed and buried at Pich Nil Pass. Is Khieu Samphan still dead yet? Mr. Vickery claimed on one of his old friend visited Chan Si in hospital. Had he not thought if that friend was a convenience? Or how long will it take for KGB and Hun Sen men to transport Chan Si to Moscow?

As the matter of facts, did Mr. Vickery know how many times that Hun Sen had flown at night by Ieng Sary nephew-a personal helicopter navigator to rendez-vous with Ieng Sary or other DK leaders? Who is Ieng Sary ? He was comparably to Hitler’s SS commander of Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland during WWII. He was boss of Kaing Kech Iev aka Duch S-21 Cambodia 20th Century Dracula. After all Ieng Sary was comrade Van who was then Pol Pot’s Deputy Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister originally from South Viet Nam with a different identity (Brother Enemy By N. Chanda). He was assigned to watch every move of Sihanouk while in abroad to campaign for DK in 1979 at UN in New York. On Hun Sen behalf, Sihanouk granted amnesty to his personal sworn enemy, Ieng Sary. Please do not insult people intelligence.

I wonder what Viet Nam provided Mr. Vickery in exchange to libelously defamed Khmers. Viet Nam liberated Cambodia? It sounded familiar, US approved Ngo Din Diem and Nguyen Van Thieu regimes to do Cambodia over and over. The North under Ho Chi Minh disciples pitted its foster children such Son Ngoc Minh and alike to undermine one another. Viet Nam set out agenda to out maneuver Saloth Sar aka Pol Pot, Ieng Sary and alike since 70’s. Viet Nam annexation of Khmer land is obvious (Wicked-ry knew it). But many scholars shamelessly slighted Khmers for what they did to protect their rightful dignity and integrity.

Khmers refused to be absorbed by French culture. French never forgave Khmers for that. They purposely labeled Khmer race as lazy, incorrigible, can’t learn anything, unreasonable, unmotivated, and literally placed Khmer as Mien (forest people, uncivil, barbaric). French purposely discounted Khmer court credibility. It cannot prosecute criminal Viets. My parents lived to see that with their own eyes. It happened again during PRK. May be that was why the rapists got away. Some scholars gave no merit to the truth and unload bias on Khmers.

Historians said French saved Khmer land from Viet Nam and Siam annexation? That was a big lie.

In contrast Emperor Napoleon family abetted Siam to carve up more territories from Khmer least most of the eastern part of present Thailand. Then during World War I Siam carved up for more past present Battambang up to Svay Daun Keo creek as its imaginary frontier. Siam subdued Khmer revolts and mutinies with forced nationalization.

Viet Nam did no less for its Nam Tien plan. Viet Nam repeated its mass killings on Khmers during the course of its expansion. In 1949 at the whimsical of oscillated monarchist, French arbitrarily ceded Khmer lowland population and territory to the neo colonial Viet Nam. Viet Nam did not stop there yet. Some modern Khmer history authorities are in such selective memory for conveniences. Did Mr. Vickery know about Canal Vinh Te massacres or Koh Tral problems? Burning rice storage houses filled with Khmer Kroms in South Viet Nam then?

It is preposterous of Mr. Vickery to belittle fellow scholar Mr. Gottesman attempts to educate the world that Viet Nam invasion of Cambodia 1978 was not a justified compassion and mercy. How it be acceptable for Viet Nam to come in and rule Cambodia against the world condemnation. Then in contrast for the China who did barge in Viet Nam in 1979. China could have swallowed Viet Nam for breakfast if it was not for Viet Nam secret appeal to US with a note U O us. Due to self interest between China and US, Viet Nam got a break. In exchange China ignored people of Canton origins appeal for help to stop Viet Nam racially mistreatments and secret elimination for those standing up to Viet authorities. That goes for Chams (Montagnards) of FULRO as well. Is that not racial for Viet Nam? How would the justification fit only Khmer situation?

South Viet Nam territory belonged to Cambodia before French arrival in 1863. Strategically Both Viet Nam played cat and mouse game to subjugate Cambodia and its people. Both took turn to raid and encroach Cambodia territorial since 1700 up to1991. It is problematic. Yet the worldly scholars scolded Cambodia as the victimizer, the bad, the cruel, and the racist toward Viets. The West down played Cambodia pain. Mr. Kissinger-President Nixon had secretly bombed Cambodia that left gruesome scars and causalities to those lived along eastern border of Cambodia. In 1975 former Presidents Bush Sr head of US Mission in China then and Ford knew dawn well about the Khmer Rouge situation but turned the other cheeks. France warned President J. Kennedy not to be so involved in Indo-China and look at what happened to France then. Libel and slander of Khmer history continues with the help from people like Mr. Vickery.

As it seems everything comes at the last stop and worst condition. Without a doubt Khmer Rouge (PRK+DK) crimes against humanity are no excuse. As human and victims of Cold War, Khmers did not get much respect and committed agenda form UN main characters as opposed to other genocidal victims. It appears bias and selective when come to needs of Cambodia.

The situation is a wakening reminder for those of us who still care and dare to defend the not daring one. There is no end result to it yet but we, Khmers, cannot allow this to go on without our voice heard. For sure, both Mr. Evan Gottesman and Luke Hunt moral characters deserve respect from all.


SUBMITTED BY: Prak Hap Sunday, 20 Feb 2005


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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hail Dishonorable Hun Sen 3rd REICH in 2008

By Prak Hap
February 18, 2005


FLUS HAIL DISHONORABLE HUN SEN 3rd REICH in 2008 All PRK- CPP superiors, Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, were scared the day light out of Cambodia current Prime Minster, Mr. Hun Sen who emerged as a strong grip ruler ranked number 2 in People Republic of Kampuchea ’s Cambodian People Party food chain since Democratic Kampuchea lost the game to pro Viet regime, PRK. Recently he has capriciously declared his intent to stay in the job that Viet Nam Bo Doi put him in up until 2012.He rose to this job five years or so after Viet Nam occupied and ran Cambodia through two of his predecessors who appeared to be leaning toward Khmer interests. Mr. Chan Si ended up dead and Mr. Pen Sovan was imprisoned then brandished as a PRK outcast. Viet Nam had not failed its intent in ruining Khmer national dignity.

As you can see, every of his plan worked if his every work planned. He applied his very own ways in his political aspiration. Based on his futuristic predicament” people might have to select him for the job again until 2012. His absence, due to either unexpected natural or man made incident or removal from job, would instantaneously result Cambodia government dissolution, or else” This is not from psychic crystal ball but his very own mouth. Mr. Hun Sen presented his next new 5 year plan while he just barely started this current obese government.

The rumble in Parliament on February 3, 2005 was just a warm up and sent shocking waves rumbling through Cambodia. Sam Rainsy Party very President Mr. Sam Rainsy himself was the first causality of the misfortune politic. That got the retired divine King attention but the co-conspirators R.Ridh and Hun Sen did not budge. Present King scared to say much of nothing even US Senators directly and personally insulted him. Not a finger rose to stop what happened in Parliament that day. Young King is inexperienced and intimidated by I O U deal to Mr. Hun Sen, Chea Sim, and Heng Samrin.

Surprisingly, World Bank did not keep its words. It deliberately softened its critical stances against Mr. Hun Sen administration. In plain politic that is called an endorsement of confidence. This institution sent double messages to Hun Sen’s CPP. Weeks ago, the very World Bank had criticized and threatened to withdraw all its financial aid from Cambodia. Then its President Mr. Wolfenson had just ended his tour in Cambodia last week and abruptly bowed in with his eyes closing and praising Cambodia progresses. Is this man sane or else? What are the progresses?

May be he means rampant poverty and official corruption.

The plain and simple predicament if Mr. Hun Sen will win his third Reich in 2008, Cambodia may witness premature abdication due to royal custom required King to have queen or Chief Consort to stay in throne. Since the present King seems not care about women and rather be dancing than ruling, logically R. Ridh will be finally voted in as King with his newly found young lover on his side as Chief Consort (in lay term extra sex partner) according to 2nd Constitutional package implementation. Possibly Prince Sereivuth will be automatically next President of the Parliament and Executive Deputy Premier. It will be perfect for Cambodia since these Princes never held real job in the past to begin with. For the future fate of SRP-Sam Rainsy, he may be brandished as what former King Sihanouk did to his late father ,Sam Sary, then.

Under Cambodia present condition, former King is tempting to challenge PRK-CPP rogue leader Mr. Hun Sen. But of course former King may choose to anoint a son he never had ,Hun Sen, to take after his legacy.

1989 Beijing, China Front left Chairman Sihanouk, China President Back left co-conspirators Son Sann (dec.), Vice Chr Khieu Sampan Long overdue Khmer Rouge tribunal continues to falter due to insufficient fund, witnesses are dying out, and governmental unaccountability remains unnoticed. The same breath, former GRUNK Chairman Sihanouk who must be put on stance for cross examining against his counter part Vice Chairman Khieu Samphan and DK Deputy Prime Minister Ieng Sary who had received immunity from former King Sihanouk ,himself. If the former King Sihanouk will be indicted for his crimes against humanity, but it will not happen as the new King R. Ridh will pardon his own father first. 2008 will be the ending date of Khmer Rouge trial worth $56 million.

People of Cambodia by 2012 at the end of HUN SEN’s 3rd REICH OF TOTALITARIANISM, undoubtedly, will be the absolute poorest people on earth. By that time the former King Sihanouk will ingeniously finish his future memoir” Kingship for Dummies” for his grand children.

Mr. Hun Sen who possesses such unscrupulous tactics and killer instinct fit China choice of replacing its mistress former King Sihanouk. China knew this ahead and reversed its policy in 180 degree toward PRK-Cambodia. China will arm twisted Cambodia to follow its path .You can guess what form of regime Cambodia will have then. China will build more governmental complexes, railroads, highways, may be an airport and then soon Cambodia armed forces will be trained under Chinese advisors once again. The world witnessed in 1984 what China People Liberation Army is capable of in 1984 to handle unarmed student demonstrators in Tien An Man square.

For the past 20 years Mr. Hun Sen has learned and adapted world politic from different masters including Pol Pot. People worry of what he is capable of doing to people such as in 1997 Coup d’ Etat. He does not care about the world condemnation or protest let alone what he just did to constitutional officers such Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch, and Cheam Channy. This man reminds us much of Sihanouk in 60’s. Cambodia people better watch out and wake up, history tends to repeat itself in every 20-30 years. Seemingly it is happening now.

SUBMITTED BY: Prak Hap Saturday, 19 Feb 2005


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The Children of Khmer Rouge

After narrowly escaping death, an art-school dean in Cambodia fosters a new generation.

By Noy Thrupkaew
Web Exclusive: 02.18.05



When I first came to the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh a year ago, it was finals week -- the whole campus was heaving with the sound of last-minute practicing. Scales rippled and crashed to a halt, a flute student huffed through a troublesome measure over and over, and a young man in the garb of a royal bodyguard was up a tree, hacking off branches for his stage set. Even though I’ve returned during normal school session, the practice rooms are still full -- a violinist working through a Beethoven romance, and students rehearsing for a performance to commemorate the twenty-sixth anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Despite its university moniker, the school offers training in Cambodian traditional dance, music and theater, and Western drama and classical music for students as young as six all the way to the undergraduate level, which explains both the wee boy practicing his monkey-dance role and the young woman walking around with an expert application of costume makeup.

After the finals performances year ago the campus grew quiet and deserted, dripping with rain. I sat down to talk with the dean of the school, Proeung Chhieng, about his career and his work at the university. A year later, I find that little has changed. Chhieng is still marvelously expressive -- each translated bit of conversation merely fills out what he’s managed to convey in the tilt of his face, the movement of his hands. Proeung Chhieng, after all, was a dancer for many years -- one of the most promising in Cambodia, before the Pol Pot era.

Great-grandson of a legendary dance teacher, Chhieng used to attend dance rehearsals and imitate the boys practicing the monkey role -- the sole male part in classical Cambodian dance. “I loved the acrobatics of it,” he says. Chosen to train as a Royal Ballet dancer, Chhieng became the youngest Cambodian artist to perform abroad in 1958 when he began touring with the national company in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yugoslavia at the age of nine.

Chhieng went on to study lighting, design and choreography in China and Korea as a young adult. But his career trajectory took a near-fatal turn in 1978, when Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot asked young Cambodians studying abroad to return to “rebuild” their country. For most, this was a death sentence – seen as corrupt foreign elements, many of the unwitting, idealistic young people were taken straight from the Phnom Penh airport to detention centers and execution grounds. Chhieng managed to escape this fate by disguising his career as a Royal Ballet dancer. Six months later, the Vietnamese government, enraged at violent Cambodian border incursions on their territory, staged an invasion that ended Khmer Rouge rule.

The Khmer Rouge had closed down the Royal University of Fine Arts, murdered countless artists and let even more starve to death or die of disease. Despite the harrowing setbacks, the university was re-opened soon after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Why so soon? “Art is like the soul of a country,” he says, and explains that the school welcomed in hundreds of students, many of them the orphaned children of artist parents.

Chhieng stops suddenly. He’s looking at the rain that’s tapping into a bucket in a practice hall behind us. “The buildings are so broken,” he says quietly, pointing at the worn-down steps, scarred walls and broken concrete. I find myself thinking about a theatre final-exam performance I saw, about the looting that plagues the national symbol of Cambodia, the temples of Angkor. One character cries out about his dying mother -- how can he care about a heap of rock when he cannot care for his own flesh and blood?

The professors delivered their critique at the end of the performance. “You know, you did well -- what I could hear, anyway,” said one. “The microphones in here are so bad. So I’m going to give the school money out of my own pocket for that,” the professor proclaimed, to wild cheers from the audience.

Outside the school, the problems just mount -- jobs are scarce for the university graduates. The last time Chhieng led a delegation of dancers to the United States, six ran away and defected. Chhieng’s task seems Herculean -- this work of training artists, building demand for and pride in a culture that was nearly crushed by the past, faces untold challenges from the future.

But outside his mention of the dilapidated buildings, hints of sadness breaks through Chhieng’s optimism only rarely. “Perhaps I am nearing the end of my time,” says Chhieng, who is only 56. “It is very difficult for me to talk about the end of my life, because perhaps I won’t see the fruition of this work.” He pauses, staring out at the rippling puddles. “But the students are my hope. My own teachers died, but not their souls. They taught me things I have passed on to my own students. It is like being a farmer. When you see your harvest -- it’s so fruitful, you feel your own life is longer. There’s a Cambodian saying: ‘I don’t have money, but I have rice.’”

Chhieng offers to drive me home, as there seems to be no end to the rain. “It’s like the influence of foreign culture,” he says, with a laugh. “We can’t make it stop. But -- although it can destroy the plants,” he says, extending the harvest metaphor, “it can also help the fruit grow.” I marvel out loud at his optimism . . . does he ever feel discouraged? And the fleeting sadness breaks through again. “I sacrificed my whole life for my art, my culture,” he says unexpectedly in response, his face dark and streaked with the shadows of the rain. I pause before asking -- “Was it worth it?” He nods without a word, but the sadness has drawn deeper into his face. We drive the rest of the way back in silence.

Noy Thrupkaew is a Prospect senior correspondent. She first traveled to Cambodia on a Pew International Journalism Fellowship.

SUBMITTED BY: M Preuk Fridat, 18 Feb 2005


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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dilemma: Cambodia Chess Opening co sponsored by China and Viet Nam

For a long time, every strategic move made by Every Cambodia Poor People (ECPP) had infringed the For Unruly New Cambodia Impossible Peace Exploratory Committee (FUNCIPEC) team defense. At last none of other team from Cambodia made finalist for the 2008 Opening but the scary hulk (ECPP).

The third contentious team Conservative Self Ruin People (CSRP) had almost made it last elimination round in 2003. In its desperate attempt FUNCIPEC and CSRP made a solid pact namely Cambodia Alliance of Dreamers (CAD) with a plot “out to get ECPP” in late 2003. Unfortunately it did not last long; CSRP declared its abrupt withdrawal from CAD in 2004 before its signatory ink completely dried yet. FUNCIPEC felt vulnerable to face off the formidable ECPP team. Instead of facing contest in full sportsmanship spirit FUNCIPEC has capriciously forfeited its last chance to go to man to man in 2008 Opening.

There was an obscure team namely Under Dog Kampuchea (UDK) founded in exile by veteran Deranged Kampuchea (DK) approximately over 15 years ago. Not many people heard of this emerged UDK team except in abroad and its sponsor China. However one of the disguised founders felt for ECPP charm in 1993. The remaining coaches and founders are vigorously dodging background legal inquisition. They are ended up living under the watchful eyes of the defected coach child in Pailin now. In 1998, the ingenious DK founder was lured to death in sleep when UDK was aspired to sign up for semi final tournament in 2003. UDK was set back once again for 2008 due to the very legal investigation process of its past founders background.

China has upper handed say so and knew this ahead of time. Thus it reversed its position expeditiously in 180 degree to subdue ECPP from going back to its original tactician-sponsor Viet Nam. Realistically China still holds its bet on UDK (DK) with life long guaranty from predictably instable coach. Viet Nam is concerned and in contest with China over ECPP dominancy.

Ironically, when China in motion to embrace ECPP its other Southeast Asia Hosting members are lining up in unison goose steps even World Bank too. Abroad other major gamblers of Chinese ancestry i. e Singapore, Malaysia behalf, Taiwan, Thailand, and even nemesis Viet Nam anticipated deals from the upcoming Opening. As always, the sneaky-bookie like Thailand is in process to arrange exclusive amenity for the will be invited guests US and Euro.

If ECPP will win in 2008, Cambodia teams and people will be left with immeasurable stress and regret. Never again its people will be happy and probably swear to change all teams and rules of play altogether with the new selected teams from around the world.

Cambodia present supposedly head coach was unofficially accused over his personal sexuality orientation. That he may be in jeopardy or forced to leave duty prematurely since the FUNCIPEC Chief Player eyed the head coach title for quite some time ago. In trade off to keep FUNCIPEC Chief Player in check, the job will be offered to him since he was well over qualified with his secret sexuality curricular with a new younger consort.

For the last 60 years Cambodia main coach does thing in China way, but thereby then, the coach may assume his permanent retirement or decapitation, which left China only option to embarrassingly accept to groom the ECPP Chief Player to be in such coach position for its next tournament. With China anointment, Cambodia’s all chess teams will merge to be one and once for all that may include CSRP-UDK too. This will eliminate all competition and complication in the future.

But with sour taste in mouth, Viet Nam will head for the deep Marki jungle to find new chess prodigy.

SUBMITTED BY: Prak Hap Wed, 16 Feb 2005


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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

COMMENT: Phnom Penh's political theatrics

COMMENT: Phnom Penh's political theatrics
By Verghese Mathews


Political parties are capitalising on Sam Rainsy's decision to 'flee' Cambodia. In particular, each is exploiting growing dissension within the other two parties. CAMBODIAN opposition leader Sam Rainsy made international news early this month when he "fled" Phnom Penh. This was, of course, not the first time that Rainsy had either fled the country or sought refuge in the French or the US Embassies. Nor is it likely to be the last.

In the past, such theatricals were followed predictably by messages of support for the media-savvy leader from select US congressmen, European parliamentarians and human rights groups. This is already happening and more can be expected in the coming days.

Arguably, this time round, Rainsy had greater reason to flee than on some of the previous instances - the National Assembly had revoked his parliamentary immunity making him liable for prosecution in the defamation suits he has been slapped with.

Two other party members were similarly stripped of their immunity and one has since been detained.

Essentially, Rainsy fled to prevent immediate detention for questioning by the courts and also, as a party stalwart candidly admitted, "to draw international attention to the lack of democracy in Cambodia".

One of the defamation suits was lodged by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) following Rainsy's accusation that the premier had plotted to assassinate him.

Another was by Prince Norodom Ranariddh of the Funcinpec Party (FCP) in response to Rainsy's allegation that Ranariddh accepted bribes before his party joined Hun Sen's Government.

Hun Sen and Ranariddh, both understandably piqued by these allegations, have argued that MPs should not be allowed to use the cover of parliamentary immunity to defame others.

They have also assured the international community that the withdrawal of the immunity of the three MPs merely opened the way for the courts to question them and that the due process of law would be strictly followed.

Unfortunately, there are many detractors both in the international community and among Cambodians themselves, who are openly sceptical of the due process of law in Cambodia.

The US very quickly made it clear that the parliamentary action was "a major setback to democracy" in Cambodia and expressed deep concern that the National Assembly had chosen to occupy itself "with political activity that appears designed to silence the Opposition".

Similar concerns were voiced by the US-based Human Rights Watch and the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The speed and intensity of these comments are primarily an indication of Sam Rainsy's incredible outreach.

His party's understanding and adroit use of information technology are light years ahead of the CPP and the royalist FCP.

That aside, the point to be made here is that the latest development is neither unusual nor surprising in the Cambodian political theatre where inter-party intrigues and intra-party infighting are unfortunately commonplace.

A perceptive diplomat privately noted that invariably the theatricals in Phnom Penh became more pronounced when a party had its own internal problems or when it sensed advantage in exploiting growing dissension within the other two parties. This comment reflects well the current preoccupation of the main political parties.

The dominant CPP can no longer take its party unity for granted.

Though factionalism had long existed, with Hun Sen leading one faction and party president Chea Sim the other, the differences had hitherto been well managed and equally well contained.

Initially, the two factions were fairly balanced with the Chea Sim faction acting as a sort of check of the other.

However, in the last few years the Hun Sen faction had significantly tipped the balance and the resultant unhappiness spilled uncharacteristically into the public domain a couple of months ago.

The party's immediate preoccupation is understandably to reconcile the two factions. If this fails and there is serious party disunity, it would be at the risk of political stability in the country.

Some bruising can be expected but the general expectation still is that the CPP will close ranks to remain the dominant political force for some time yet.

The FCP is in a much worse-off position and will have to do some serious soul-searching to regain the credibility and the ground it had progressively lost since the first elections in 1993 when it polled the largest number of seats.

It is now a pale shadow of its old self and this may well be its last chance to remain relevant in mainstream politics. The situation within FCP is taking time to stabilise.

The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has its factions as well but it is a party motivated by a clear mission - to be the Government after the 2008 elections. To this end, it has the indispensable support of its foreign allies, in particular the influential US-based International Republican Institute.

However, the SRP has a long way to go to realise its ambition and it too needs to overcome a credibility problem. While the party rightly exploits every weakness in government, it has a tendency of going overboard.

Likewise, Sam Rainsy gets carried away sometimes when projecting himself as a fearless opposition leader and a champion of the marginalised and the disadvantaged.

This is the backdrop to the current political developments. As for Sam Rainsy's present difficulties, he can be expected to deftly walk the various Western corridors to seek international condemnation of the Cambodian Government, particularly of Hun Sen and Ranariddh.

If need be, he will not hesitate to even appeal to King Sihamoni and/or former King Sihanouk.

What is certain is that when the time is right he will return to Phnom Penh - he has to.

He may or may not not have gained new converts this time round but would have earned some propaganda mileage and, more importantly, ensured the continued support of those who see him as the future "democratic" leader of a "democratic Cambodia".

* The writer, Singapore's former Ambassador to Cambodia, is presently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.


SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews on Sat, 15 Feb 2005


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Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Montagnards' dilemma

The New Straits Times, Malaysia.

THERE is an old Vietnamese legend, widely known in Vietnam and to a lesser extent in Cambodia and Laos, which is worth repeating as it seeks to explain the existing tension in Vietnam between the lowlanders and the highlanders.

The legend goes back to a misty time in the past when the powerful Dragon King of the South fell hopelessly in love, as even powerful men do, with a gorgeous northern fairy whose beauty was known throughout the universe. The Dragon King wooed this pretty fairy and, as happens in all proper fairy tales, he soon married her. What a grand wedding it was and the badly smitten Dragon King, in a moment of total indiscretion, agreed to the dainty fairy's pleas to set up their marital home in the mountains instead of the lowlands.

Those were happy times and a year later the fairy, in true blue fairy style, laid a hundred eggs which within the prescribed time dutifully hatched into one hundred handsome little baby boys. The Dragon King and the fairy, now Fairy Queen, were indeed very happy and could have lived happily ever after.

However, as does happen, the Dragon King soon grew tired of the lofty mountains and yearned for his watery lowland home. He pined every day and every night and locked himself up in his deep sorrow. As the yearnings became stronger, as yearnings often do, he decided to part with his fairy wife and go his own way. He took along with him fifty of his children and left behind the other fifty with his erstwhile estranged wife. They were never to meet again. The hurt was never healed and some believe, not destined to be healed.

Old people will tell you, if you care to ask politely, that the Dragon King and his fifty sons were the ancestors of the main ethnic Vietnamese people.

The fifty left behind in the mountains with the fairy, who incidentally died of a broken heart, were the ancestors of the ethnic minorities, who are collectively referred to as "Montagnards" or "mountain people". Or so they say.

Legends aside, the ongoing friction between the Montagnards who live in the Central Highlands and the Vietnamese Government is no fairy tale. Various human rights and religious groups have in recent months suggested that the situation in the Central Highlands is deteriorating.

Human Rights Watch sounded alarm bells in early January and issued a report accusing Vietnam of "mass arrests, torture and increasing persecution of Christian Montagnards".

The Vietnamese Government has tersely rejected all the allegations as "total fabrication" and has wisely chosen not to go into a media debate on this issue. In this stalemate between the "highlanders and the lowlanders" the reluctant and unappreciated midwife is Cambodia which is now truly sucked into the problem - a problem not of its making. The result is that Cambodia has come under severe pressure from various Western interest groups and lobbies on the one hand and Vietnam on the other.

It cannot be dismissed that Cambodia may end up displeasing one side or the other, or both.

Ironically, Cambodia, vast numbers of whose citizens were themselves refugees in Thailand not too long ago, has presumably succumbed to Vietnamese pressure not to host any refugee camps along the common border or to facilitate the entry of the Montagnards. Cambodia's tough posture was demonstrated in December when a temporary Montagnard refugee camp in Ratanakiri province bordering Vietnam was closed down and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had to move the refugees to Phnom Penh.

In another show of determination, Cambodia also reinforced its northeastern borders and the various checkpoints with Vietnam in early January to stem the flow of the Montagnards, a move which immediately earned the criticism of concerned pressure groups and the UNHCR. There were also reports that Cambodian provincial police were, in the meantime, instructed to recruit more officers to maintain round-the-clock vigilance along the common border. To assist in this surveillance exercise, the Vietnamese Government "generously" donated motorcycles to the Cambodian provincial police.

The international community is aware of this festering problem but has so far been reluctant to be drawn in.

They argue that the issue is strictly an internal problem of Vietnam which they believe Hanoi is well equipped to resolve. The Montagnards and their sympathisers, aware of the international reluctance to be directly involved, are seeking ways to internationalise the problem which they continue to insist is getting worse. To this end the Montagnards have in recent months become more vocal and more determined to capture the attention of the media which they see presently as the best means of persuading the international community to become involved.

Not surprisingly, the latest group of Montagnards who escaped into Cambodia have managed to secure media attention. Unlike previous groups who highlighted religious discrimination as the main problem and were willing to be resettled in third countries, the latest groups highlight the illegal confiscation of their ancestral lands by Hanoi for coffee cultivation and other commercial purposes as the main grievance. What has captured media attention, however, is their insistence that they intend to remain in Cambodia until the UN gets back their land. They have refused all offers to be resettled in the US or elsewhere.

All involved parties are now focused on what will happen to the Montagnards in their refusal to leave Cambodia until their grievances are addressed.

Cambodia, which depends on donor assistance and is concerned about its international image, is playing it as carefully as it possibly can. It does not want to appear unhelpful or harsh in its treatment of the Montagnards. At the same time it would prefer not to unnecessarily upset Vietnam, its more powerful neighbour and old ally. All it wants is to get the problem out of its court.

In this test of wills, it is the Montagnard refugees who are at a disadvantage - they have no resources and limited support, they need funds to be fed and lodged and, worse, they can be repatriated as illegal immigrants as most, if not all, walked in through the border.

Moreover, the various interest groups who support them have limited influence over Vietnam. These pressure groups realise that Vietnam can afford to wait it out and are trying to make the wait as costly as possible.

For the moment this looks like a lost cause for the Montagnards - their grievances will fester on and media interest will decline until the next big incident concerning the group comes to the fore. Unfortunately for the Montagnards, no fairies or dragons have yet come to their help.

The writer was Singapore Ambassador to Cambodia from 2000-2004 and is presently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews on Sat, 12 Feb 2005


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At long last, a time for healing

Sunday Times, Singapore
Jan 30, 2005

At long last, a time for healing

By Verghese Mathews
For The Straits Times

CAMBODIANS have not failed to notice that while the international community rightly poured out its heart and its resources to assist victims of the tsunami disaster, the same community has been largely blind, indifferent and uncaring when it comes to victims of the Cambodian genocide.

This stark message jumps at you from the pages of a new book on Cambodia's quest for justice following the three years, eight months and 20 dark and terrifying days of the Khmer Rouge (KR).

Authored by British journalist Tom Fawthrop and Australian academic Helen Jarvis, Getting Away With Genocide? Elusive Justice And Khmer Rouge Tribunal is a detailed insider account of the tortuous process of bringing the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

Fawthrop has covered the region for leading newspapers, including The Straits Times, for the last 25 years. Jarvis, previously with the University of New South Wales and documentation consultant for Yale University's Cambodian Genocide Programme, has, since 1999, been an adviser to the Cambodian Task Force on the KR Trials.

The plaintive cry in the book is why, after a quarter of a century following the 1979 ouster of the Pol Pot regime by invading Vietnamese forces, none of the perpetrators has been brought to court to answer for the crimes which led to the death of an estimated 1.7 million people, a quarter of the then population of Cambodia.

Fawthrop and Jarvis, both of whom I know personally, hold very strong views on this unacceptable delay. They point to the 'abysmal record' of the United Nations, the 'bitter record of neglect' of the international community and the 'dismal record of complicity' of certain countries with the KR, all of which the authors declare delayed justice.

The writing in this book is opinionated, but this should not detract from its evident and immense scholarship and research.

My quarrel with the authors is that in their almost evangelical criticism of the attitude of the UN and the international community in preventing the then newly installed Phnom Penh government from taking over Cambodia's seat in the UN, and in their disappointment that no western country so much as sent a fact-finding mission to Phnom Penh following the ouster of Pol Pot, they have failed to give adequate _expression to the complex international and regional dynamism which drove the then bipolar world.

There is mention, in passing, that for the United States the choice was simply between moral principles and international law and that the scales weighed in favour of the latter because it served US security interests. But the brevity of the comment suggests that it was included merely to give the appearance of a balanced criticism.

That aside, the authors are right in their anger and disappointment that the KR Tribunal, when it finally takes place probably some time this year, will mark one of the longest struggles to bring genocide perpetrators to justice.

But it is a case of better late than never, though only six or seven are expected to appear in court. The legal text agreed between Cambodia and the UN states that the Tribunal is expected 'to bring to trial senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those who were most responsible for the serious crimes and violations of Cambodian penal law, international humanitarian law and custom, and international conventions recognised by Cambodia that were committed during the period' from April 17, 1975 to Jan 6, 1979.

Still, there is sufficient latitude in the law for justice to be finally served. The authors rightly point out that 'one of the great expectations' of the Cambodian people is that the Tribunal will serve not only to mete out punishment, but also help to provide answers that bring collective healing and closure.

Unfortunately, some of the people who could have provided answers are gone. Pol Pot, Brother No. 1, died unceremoniously in April 1998. Son Sen, his defense minister with responsibility over the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison, is likewise dead.

Among their senior colleagues still alive, most are suffering from some ailment or another.

The fear is that these potential witnesses might die before the Tribunal. Of these, the most senior is Nuon Chea, Brother No. 2, believed to have been the most powerful official after Pol Pot. He surrendered to the government in 1998 and lives quietly in the former KR stronghold of Pailin.

Also living freely and much more comfortably is Ieng Sary, well known internationally as the deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs. He defected to the Hun Sen government in 1996 and brought with him several thousand guerillas, effectively breaking whatever strength there was left in the KR.

Then there is Khieu Samphan, who held several senior positions including that of PM and party president. He defected together with Nuon Chea in 1998 and lives modestly in Pailin close to Nuon Chea's house.

In prison are two notables who were captured by the security forces. One is Ta Mok, who in a leadership tussle in 1997 wrested control from Pol Pot but was forced to flee a year later when he was himself challenged. The other is the infamous Duch, who ran the secret police. Duch has just been taken from his cell to a government hospital for prostate surgery.

Ta Mok and Duch have much to tell and some commentators believe that they will. We will have to wait to see if this will come to pass, hopefully not for too long.

Fawthrop and Jarvis have contributed an extremely well-researched and fascinating book which is a welcome addition to the existing body of literature on contemporary Cambodia. With the date for the Tribunal getting closer, this work will prove to be a most useful resource.

The writer, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, was Singapore's ambassador to Cambodia from June 2000 to July 2004. He served in South Africa from 1992 to 1997.

SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews on Sat, 12 Feb 2005


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Friday, February 11, 2005

ILO to monitor Cambodia's garment factories for labour issues

10th February 2005

The UN's labour body International Labour Organisation announced Wednesday it was expanding its monitoring of Cambodian garment factories under a project aimed at improving labour standards in one of the world's poorest economies.

Currently, Cambodia exports garment to the tune of 40 percent of the economy, and faces overseas competition since expiration of textile quotas December 2004.

To gain access to foreign markets and survive in international markets, it has resorted to marketing itself as being a labour-friendly, socially responsible exporter.

The Garment Sector Project is being expanded and re-named the Better Factories Cambodia Project, with the International Labour Organisationand the Cambodian government working in partnership, the ILO said.

"Cambodia's improved compliance with international labour standards, monitored by an independent body, is offering the garment sector a competitive advantage that is lacking in other areas," ILO executive director Sally Paxton said in a statement.

"This gives consumers and companies the necessary confidence to choose Cambodian-made garments," she added.

Under the expanded project, a web-based reporting system will be launched and in the next six months information on most factories in Cambodia will be available on a website, the ILO said.

The United States, which linked its quotas for Cambodia's producers with improvements in labour standards, has been upbeat on the future of the sector, saying in December that its record should help it survive the post-MFA world.

However, US has also issued a curt warning to the country to tackle corruption and reform the legal system in order to raise investor confidence.

Today, up to 95 percent of Cambodia's 270,000 garment sector workers are women aged between 18 and 25.

http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/NewsDetails.asp?News_id=12951

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Japan to contribute $21.5 mil to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge trial

Japan to contribute $21.5 mil to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge trial

Thursday, February 10, 2005 at 14:20 JST
PHNOM PENH — Japan will contribute $21.5 million toward a tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, the biggest donation so far, Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Fumiaki Takahashi said Thursday.

After six years of negotiations, Cambodia and the United Nations signed in June 2003 an agreement to set up the tribunal. They have since finalized the budget for the three-year trial, with the United Nations picking up $43 million of the cost and Cambodia covering the remaining $13 million. (Kyodo News)

http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&id=327406

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

One election a democracy does not make

2005-02-09
One election a democracy does not make
Like in Iraq, twice in recent times, the international community has tried to introduce Western-style democracy, with a supporting rule of law, to alien political cultures. In both Afghanistan and Cambodia, political development has been painfully slow says Ronald Bruce St John.

The Iraqi people on January 30th participated in their first truly free elections in more than 50 years. Voter turnout on a relatively peaceful day of voting exceeded all expectations. At some polling places, the mood turned joyous with Iraqis celebrating newfound democratic freedoms in spontaneous street parties. The elections were a resounding success and mark an important first step in Iraq’s transition to democracy.

Political Culture of Democracy

That said, a single election, no matter how successful, does not a democracy make, in Iraq or anywhere else. A functioning democracy necessitates the development of a supportive political culture, that unique pattern of political action in which every political system is embedded.

Central elements of this political culture include a growing number of contributing citizens, an associated spread of mass participation and a heightened sensitivity to principles of equality. It also entails an increased capacity on the part of the political system to manage public affairs, control controversy and respond to popular demands. Finally, Iraqis must embrace the concept of a loyal opposition and the rule of law, including a separation of powers between the executive branch, legislature, and judiciary with the government subject to the law as interpreted by the courts.

Little of this exists today in Iraq. This is not to say it can’t be developed. But it will take time—and sustained international support. You climb a mountain one step at a time. The Iraqi people have taken an important first step. But they must be encouraged and assisted in taking the requisite next steps.

Twice in recent times, the international community has tried to introduce Western-style democracy, with a supporting rule of law, to alien political cultures. In both Afghanistan and Cambodia, political development has been painfully slow.

Lessons from Cambodia

The general elections held in Cambodia in May 1993 offer an especially thought-provoking and instructive analogy to the January 2005 elections in Iraq. After 13 years of civil war, electoral preparations in Cambodia, like in Iraq, took place in an atmosphere of threat and intimidation, primarily because the Khmer Rouge opposition refused to cooperate. Nevertheless, the actual conduct of elections was a huge success, surprisingly free of violence. Voters flocked to polling stations long before they opened, despite driving monsoon rains. In the end, more than 89% of registered voters, an estimated 97% of Cambodians eligible to vote, cast a ballot. In comparison, it would appear that only a little better than half that number of Iraqis turned out to vote. Exactly what most Cambodians voted for remains a subject of controversy. William Shawcross, a veteran Cambodia watcher, best captured the atmosphere in Cambodia at the time. “Over most of the country, people had voted for peace, for reconciliation, for [King] Sihanouk, and, perhaps above all, for change. It was a lot to hope for.”

The UN-sponsored elections in Cambodia were a unique achievement, but they failed to establish a solid foundation for democratic institutions in a still immature body politic. Instead of spawning change in the political culture of Cambodia, the elections led to the reassertion of past political practices. Power brokers continued to practice politics as usual, evidencing the corruption, narrow horizons and intolerance long dominant in Cambodian politics. And the international community sanctioned Cambodia’s failure, providing massive amounts of international aid despite bankrupt reform efforts.

One decade and $5 billion later, Prime Minister Hun Sen, often through violent and undemocratic means, has consolidated his position as the single most powerful politician in Cambodia. In so doing, he has displayed a growing intolerance for any form of political opposition or dissent, an attitude which bodes ill for the future of Cambodia’s nascent democracy. In the process, power sharing as applied to Cambodian politics has become an oxymoron with power building the operative concept. Enjoying a monopoly on political power and in control of all forms of security, Hun Sen is moving Cambodia away from a maturing democracy and toward a one-party state.

Whither Iraq?

A comparison of Cambodia after 1993 with Iraq today draws attention to the challenges and pitfalls which Iraqis face. But drawing parallels between attempts to promote democracy in the two states is not to say their ending will be the same.

In this regard, the chorus of opposition voices demanding a clear exit strategy from Iraq, if not the immediate withdrawal of American troops, totally misses the point. Whether or not one opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as this writer did in the strongest terms, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is history. Having achieved that result at considerable cost to the American people, and an even greater cost to the Iraqi people, now is not the time to cut and run.

On the contrary, attention must focus on assisting Iraqis to build a workable democracy. We simply cannot afford a failed state in the heart of the Middle East. The Iraqis in 2005, like the Cambodians in 1993, more than anything else voted for change. In nurturing this change, the United States may be called on to provide some element of security training for a good long time. At the same time, support for the growth of democratic institutions in a new political culture is clearly a job for the United Nations, in conjunction with a host of nongovernmental organizations.

In turning to the United Nations, the Bush administration must realize it lacks the moral legitimacy, in or out of Iraq, to be successful in a unilateral nation-building effort. In any case, the U.S. track record in this regard is pretty awful. Over the last century, the United States has replaced at least 18 regimes by military force, but democratic rule prevailed in only five of them—Germany, Grenada, Italy, Japan and Panama. In four of those five successes, Panama being the exception, a multilateral approach was used. The jury is still out on the 18th case—Afghanistan.

President Bush has proclaimed a broad strategy of spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world, but in Iraq the devil is in the detail. The expansion of democracy as a system and a process remains an achievable political goal in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. However, as the Cambodian case aptly demonstrates, it will take a long and costly nation-building exercise.

Ronald Bruce St John, an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org) has published widely on foreign policy issues. His latest book, Revolution, Reform and Regionalism in Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, will be published by Routledge later this year.

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=12645

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Russia, Cambodia to develop partnership through ASEAN and UN

09 February 2005 13:04
Russia, Cambodia to develop partnership through ASEAN and UN

Russia and Cambodia "expressed a common interest in deepening their partnership in international affairs and close cooperation in the UN and other international forums," ITAR-TASS was told by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs today on the close of Russian-Cambodian consultations, attended by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Alekseyev, in Phnom Penh on 7 February. Those taking part in the talks "stated that the Russian and Cambodian approaches to many key international political problems coincide".
The talks "confirmed their readiness to step up joint efforts to refine the treaty and legal basis of Russian-Cambodian relations". "Priority was given to ways of broadening bilateral political, commercial and economic and investment cooperation," the Foreign Ministry said. "An understanding was reached that everything possible would be done to develop contacts between business people in the two countries, as well as in education and inter-parliamentary exchanges."
"An examination of the situation in Asia-Pacific and ways to further the partnership dialogue between Russia and ASEAN featured prominently in the consultations," the ministry stressed. Those present "noted the importance for peace and stability in Asia-Pacific of Russia's accession to the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation in South-east Asia (the 1976 Bali Treaty) at the 10th ASEAN summit in Vientiane". "The Russian side stated that its policy on building up diverse cooperation with ASEAN remains unchanged," the Foreign Ministry said.

Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow http://www.gateway2russia.com/st/art_267959.php
BBC Monitoring

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UN labour body expands monitoring of Cambodia's garment factories

UN labour body expands monitoring of Cambodia's garment factories
PHNOM PENH, Feb 9 (AFP)
The UN's labour body announced Wednesday it was expanding its monitoring of garment factories under a project aimed at improving labour standards in one of the world's poorest economies.

Cambodia, where garment exports represent 40 percent of the economy, is angling to survive the December 2004 end of the world textile export quota system by marketing itself as being a labour-friendly, socially responsible exporter.

The Garment Sector Project is being expanded and re-named the Better Factories Cambodia Project, with the International Labour Organisationand the Cambodian government working in partnership, the ILO said.

"Cambodia's improved compliance with international labour standards, monitored by an independent body, is offering the garment sector a competitive advantage that is lacking in other areas," ILO executive director Sally Paxton said in a statement.

"This gives consumers and companies the necessary confidence to choose Cambodian-made garments," she added.

Under the expanded project, a web-based reporting system will be launched and in the next six months information on most factories in Cambodia will be available on a website, the ILO said.

The expiration of the global Multifibre Arrangement (MFA), which allocated textile quotas to developing nations and gave Cambodia its entry into the world market, is expected to see powerhouse China elbow out competitors.

Meanwhile US clothing retailer Gap Inc. and the World Bank inked a deal to train 650 supervisors in the garment sector aimed at improving labour relations.

The one-year training in Khmer and Chinese at seven factories will cover conflict resolution and human resource management.

Dan Henkle, vice president of global compliance for Gap Inc., said such programs had already improved factories elsewhere.

"These kinds of capacity building efforts truly do impact not only labour standards in factories but also every other dimension of what's really important: overall productivity, quality, absenteeism, turnover rates in factories, it's really all connected," he told a news conference.

Gap is Cambodia's largest purchaser of garments and Henkle said the company would continue sourcing here, noting that "there has been tremendous progress on labour standards in this country".

A one-day international summit is being held in Phnom Penh Friday to discuss Cambodia's garment sector and outlook.

The United States, which linked its quotas for Cambodia's producers with improvements in labour standards, has been upbeat on the future of the sector, saying in December that its record should help it survive the post-MFA world.

But it has also warned that the kingdom must also tackle notorious corruption and reform the legal system in order to raise investor confidence.

Up to 95 percent of Cambodia's 270,000 garment sector workers are women aged between 18 and 25.

© AFP Agence France-Presse - tdg

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

UN rights expert calls for restoration of immunity to Cambodian opposition lawmakers

8 February 2005 – The top United Nations human rights official for Cambodia has voiced serious concern over the lifting of the immunity of three opposition lawmakers, called for the immediate release of one of them who was arrested, and declared that the moves cast doubts on the ruling parties’ commitment to genuine pluralistic democracy.

“These developments raise concerns about an increasingly autocratic form of government, and the future of democracy in Cambodia,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, said, calling on the National Assembly to immediately restore the immunity to all three members.

“In view of the well-documented lack of independence of Cambodia’s judiciary,” he said he was “most concerned” over the moves taken last Thursday against the three Sam Rainsy Party members – Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy – and the arrest of the latter on the same day.

While the lifting of the immunity of Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch related to defamation complaints, the arrest of Cheam Channy was linked to an accusation that the Sam Rainsy Party was organizing a secret military force.

“Few outside military intelligence and the military court seem to have given credibility to these allegations, and senior CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) government officials have publicly declared that the authorities have found no evidence of an armed force being created,” Mr. Leuprecht said, calling for Cheam Channy’s “immediate and unconditional release.”

Efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia to obtain access to him continue.

» Read more!

UN rights expert calls for restoration of immunity to Cambodian opposition lawmakers

UN - http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13274&Cr=Cambodia&Cr1=#

8 February 2005 – The top United Nations human rights official for Cambodia has voiced serious concern over the lifting of the immunity of three opposition lawmakers, called for the immediate release of one of them who was arrested, and declared that the moves cast doubts on the ruling parties’ commitment to genuine pluralistic democracy.

“These developments raise concerns about an increasingly autocratic form of government, and the future of democracy in Cambodia,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, said, calling on the National Assembly to immediately restore the immunity to all three members.

“In view of the well-documented lack of independence of Cambodia’s judiciary,” he said he was “most concerned” over the moves taken last Thursday against the three Sam Rainsy Party members – Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy – and the arrest of the latter on the same day.

While the lifting of the immunity of Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch related to defamation complaints, the arrest of Cheam Channy was linked to an accusation that the Sam Rainsy Party was organizing a secret military force.

“Few outside military intelligence and the military court seem to have given credibility to these allegations, and senior CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) government officials have publicly declared that the authorities have found no evidence of an armed force being created,” Mr. Leuprecht said, calling for Cheam Channy’s “immediate and unconditional release.”

Efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia to obtain access to him continue.

» Read more!

UN rights expert calls for restoration of immunity to Cambodian opposition lawmakers

UN - http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13274&Cr=Cambodia&Cr1=#

8 February 2005 – The top United Nations human rights official for Cambodia has voiced serious concern over the lifting of the immunity of three opposition lawmakers, called for the immediate release of one of them who was arrested, and declared that the moves cast doubts on the ruling parties’ commitment to genuine pluralistic democracy.

“These developments raise concerns about an increasingly autocratic form of government, and the future of democracy in Cambodia,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, said, calling on the National Assembly to immediately restore the immunity to all three members.

“In view of the well-documented lack of independence of Cambodia’s judiciary,” he said he was “most concerned” over the moves taken last Thursday against the three Sam Rainsy Party members – Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy – and the arrest of the latter on the same day.

While the lifting of the immunity of Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch related to defamation complaints, the arrest of Cheam Channy was linked to an accusation that the Sam Rainsy Party was organizing a secret military force.

“Few outside military intelligence and the military court seem to have given credibility to these allegations, and senior CPP (Cambodian People’s Party) government officials have publicly declared that the authorities have found no evidence of an armed force being created,” Mr. Leuprecht said, calling for Cheam Channy’s “immediate and unconditional release.”

Efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia to obtain access to him continue.

» Read more!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

UN RIGHTS EXPERT CALLS ON CAMBODIAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO RESTORE IMMUNITY TO THREE MEMBERS

7 February 2005
HRW
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in
Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, issued the following statement today:

"In view of the well-documented lack of independence of Cambodia's judiciary, the Special Representative is most concerned about the liftingof the immunity on Thursday, 3 February 2005 of three Sam Rainsy Party members of the National Assembly, Sam Rainsy, Chea Poch and Cheam Channy, and the arrest of the latter on the same day.

The National Assembly vote was taken in closed session by hand-count. Ninety-eight of 103 members voted to remove the immunity of Chea Poch. Ninety-seven of 104 members voted to remove the immunity of Cheam Channy and Sam Rainsy. Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch immediately left the country.

The lifting of the immunity and the arrest come as the latest of several actions in recent months which cast doubts on the commitment of the two parties in Cambodia's coalition government, the Cambodian People's Party and FUNCINPEC, to a genuine pluralistic democratic system. These include a refusal to grant the Sam Rainsy Party any seats in the commissions of the National Assembly, an agreement between the two ruling parties to postpone the constitutionally required Senate elections, and a failure to ensure that village chiefs are selected by the elected commune councils as
provided for in the Law on Commune Administration.

While the lifting of the immunity of Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch relates to defamation complaints, the arrest of Cheam Channy is linked to an accusation made by the Prime Minister on 18 July 2004, three days after the formation of the new Government on 15 July, that the Sam Rainsy Party was organizing a secret military force. Few outside military intelligence and the Military Court seem to have given credibility to these allegations, and senior CPP government officials have publicly declared that the
authorities have found no evidence of an armed force being created.


Cheam Channy was arrested at approximately 7 p.m. on 3 February following the lifting of his immunity and a warrant for his arrest issued by the Office of the Military Prosecutor. Charges include "organized crime" and "fraud" according to Article 36 and Article 45 of the Provisions relating to the Judiciary and Criminal Law and Procedure Applicable in Cambodia during the Transitional Period (UNTAC Law). Cheam Channy was taken to the Office of the Military Prosecutor for questioning, and then to the Military Prison in Phnom Penh which is adjacent to the Prosecutor's Office.
Efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner in Cambodia to obtain access to
him continue.

The Special Representative calls for Cheam Channy's immediate and unconditional release. Cheam Channy is a civilian and, as such, is not subject to military jurisdiction.

Immunity is intended to protect members of the National Assembly from possibly groundless proceedings or accusations that may be politically motivated or made in bad faith. Its proper working is fundamental to guaranteeing the independence of the National Assembly. Article 80 of Cambodia's 1993 Constitution provides that: "The accusation, arrest or detention of a member of the Assembly shall be made only with the permission of the Assembly or by the Standing Committee of the Assembly between sessions, except in case of flagrante delicto. In that case, the competent authority shall immediately report to the Assembly or to the Standing Committee for decision." It further provides that: "The decision made by the Standing Committee of the Assembly shall be submitted to the Assembly at its next session for approval by a 2/3 majority vote of the Assembly members".

These developments raise concerns about an increasingly autocratic form of government, and the future of democracy in Cambodia. The Special Representative calls on the National Assembly to immediately restore immunity to all three members of the National Assembly, to make public the minutes of its closed meeting, and to ensure that members of the opposition party are given seats in its commissions".[End]


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Monday, February 07, 2005

Cambodia: Opposition Politicians Arrested, Forced to Flee

Fate of Political Pluralism in Balance as Sam Rainsy Party under Attack
Human Rights Watch - http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/02/07/cambod10138.htm

(New York, February 6, 2005) -- The targeting of opposition parliamentarians is a thinly-veiled effort by Cambodia’s ruling parties to eliminate their political opponents, Human Rights Watch said today. This week three leading opposition members of Cambodia’s National Assembly were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and one was subsequently arrested.

In a closed session on February 3, the National Assembly voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of outspoken opposition leader Sam Rainsy and legislators Cheam Channy and Chea Poch, members of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). Under Cambodia’s Constitution, members of the National Assembly are immune from prosecution. Lifting of parliamentary immunity enables the three parliamentarians to face prosecution.

Observers––including diplomats and journalists who had come to monitor the proceedings––were barred from the session, which was chaired by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the royalist Funcinpec Party. National Assembly proceedings are normally televised, but cameras were barred.
All three opposition politicians face criminal charges under lawsuits initiated by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen or Ranariddh, his partner in a coalition government that was established after national elections in 2003.

“This is nothing less than a move to get rid of the political opposition in Cambodia,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “If Sam Rainsy and his party members are prosecuted or expelled from the parliament on such bogus grounds, the progress on political pluralism made since the 1991 peace agreements will be lost.”

After the National Assembly vote, Rainsy immediately fled the country and Poch went into hiding. At 7 p.m. that night, Cheam Channy was arrested, brought to military court for questioning, and detained at the National Military Police Headquarters for two nights. On Saturday he was transferred to the military prison in Phnom Penh. He has been charged by the Military Court with organized crime and fraud under Cambodia’s 1992 Criminal Code, along with failure to follow military orders under a 1997 regulation issued by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Human Rights Watch said that under Cambodian law, the mandate of the Military Court covers only military offenses committed by currently-serving military personnel, and thus it is beyond its scope to prosecute or detain civilians such as Channy.

“Cheam Channy should be immediately released,” said Adams. “He’s a member of the National Assembly and by definition he’s a civilian, not a military officer. It’s illegal for him to be charged and detained by the military court.”

Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch face criminal defamation complaints filed by Ranariddh at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year for allegedly stating that the Prince accepted bribes in exchange for agreeing to form a coalition government with Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Rainsy also faces a suit from Hun Sen after he allegedly stated that Hun Sen had drawn up a blacklist of political opponents to be assassinated, including Rainsy. A third case of defamation against Rainsy was filed by members of a Buddhist pagoda near Phnom Penh, after Rainsy warned King Sihanouk of possible demonstrations being planned by people at the pagoda upon the king’s return to Cambodia last October.

In July 2004 Hun Sen accused Cheam Channy and other SRP members of forming an illegal rebel army. In October, the Military Court requested that the National Assembly lift Channy’s parliamentary immunity so that he could be charged (see “Cambodia: Opposition Party Activists Under Threat, Human Rights Watch press release, July 28, 2004).

Following a one-year stalemate after the 2003 national elections, in which the incumbent CPP failed to win the two-thirds majority required to form a government, the CPP reached a power-sharing agreement with Funcinpec in July 2004. Three days after formation of the coalition government, Hun Sen accused Cheam Channy and other members of the SRP’s Committee No. 14 of forming a military armed group. The party has made no effort to conceal the existence of Committee No. 14, a body of SRP activists that monitors the government’s military activities.

Constant threats of violence and arrest

Rainsy and Ranariddh have long had a tempestuous relationship. Both were founding members of Funcinpec. Rainsy was named Minister of Finance by Ranariddh after the Funcinpec victory in the 1993 U.N.-sponsored election, but was sacked in 1994. In June 1995, Rainsy was expelled from the National Assembly after Ranariddh had him removed from the party. Rainsy subsequently established his own opposition party, now called the SRP. Rainsy and Ranariddh formed an anti-CPP alliance for both the 1998 and 2003 elections, but in each case Ranariddh eventually joined a coalition government with Hun Sen and Rainsy remained in opposition.
Rainsy has been subject to constant threats of violence and arrest. The most extreme attack occurred on March 30, 1997, when a peaceful rally led by Rainsy against judicial corruption was attacked by grenade throwers, leaving at least 16 dead and 150 injured. Rainsy was the clear target of the attack but survived when his bodyguards fell on top of him. For the first time, Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit was present at an opposition rally, dressed in full riot gear. United Nations and FBI investigations established that Hun Sen’s bodyguards allowed the grenade throwers to pass through their lines, but stopped at gunpoint individuals who subsequently attempted to pursue them.

Hun Sen has frequently called for Rainsy to be arrested, including after the 1997 grenade attack. He also staged a bloody coup against Ranariddh, his co-prime minister, in July 1997. More than 100 Funcinpec members were extra-judicially executed by Hun Sen’s forces, many found bound and blind-folded. Ranariddh fled into exile for nine months and was convicted in a show trial in absentia. He was pardoned in a political deal paving the way for national elections in July 1998.

“It is ironic that Ranariddh has forgotten the past attempts by Hun Sen to remove him from the political process and has now become the tool for attacking Sam Rainsy and the political opposition,” said Adams. “Hun Sen has never shown any commitment to political pluralism. Now Ranariddh, by presiding over the removal of parliamentary immunity and bringing a criminal defamation case against Rainsy, is making clear his own disdain for democratic norms.”


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Friday, February 04, 2005

Statement commenting on the suspension of parliamentary immunity

Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 3, 2005
Reference link: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/41578.htm

MR. ERELI: The Georgians are investigating the incident; however, all the indications at this point are that it was exactly that, a tragic accident.

We also have a statement commenting on the suspension of parliamentary immunity of Cambodian opposition party members. The United States strongly condemns the Cambodian National Assembly, which -- or the action of the Cambodian National Assembly -- which, on February 3rd, decided to suspend the parliamentary immunity of three opposition parliamentarians, Mr. Sam Rainsy, Mr. Chea Poch and Mr. Cheam Channy.

The United States notes with concern the subsequent arrest of Mr. Channy. We see these actions coming at a time of growing intimidation of opposition voices in Cambodia, and the United States calls upon the political leadership of the Royal Government of Cambodia to allow all its citizens to peacefully express their political views without fear of retribution or intimidation.

If there are any questions on that, happy to answer them; if not, go on to whatever interests you.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

MCCAIN STATEMENT ON REPORTS OF PARLIAMENTARY ACTION AGAINST SAM RAINSY PARTY IN CAMBODIA

MCCAIN STATEMENT ON REPORTS OF PARLIAMENTARY ACTION AGAINST SAM RAINSY PARTY IN CAMBODIA
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Feb 02, 2005
Reference Link: http://mccain.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=NewsCenter.ViewPressRelease&Content_id=1511

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on the current political situation in Cambodia:

“I am deeply concerned by reports that the Cambodian parliament may soon strip Sam Rainsy and two other SRP members of their parliamentary immunity. This would open the way for the Cambodian government to initiate politically-motivated criminal action against Sam Rainsy and his allies.

“Such a plan runs counter to the basic principles of democracy. I will be following this situation closely, and I urge the members of the Cambodian People’s Party and FUNCINPEC to respect the right of the political opposition to participate in peaceful political activities.

“If this plan to strip the SRP parliamentarians of their immunity is carried out, I fear that it will have dire implications for the U.S.-Cambodia relationship. Prime Minister Hun Sen and members of the coalition government bear responsibility for ensuring the freedom of citizens to express their views without fear of reprisal.”

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