Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Your Highest, Do the Right Thing!

It has been a lot of controversies reguarding requests and petitions to King Norodom Sihakmoni to pardoning all convicted opposition politicians and democractic activists. The controvery is whether the king will do the right thing.

Now, what is the right thing? What principle or objective will the king take into his consideration?

This is the challenging task for the young king who all his life has never involved in the politics of making. All the king's life, he is an artist and a ballet dancer. This is not to put down his credibility but to inform that he can face a very difficult decision. The king doesn't have to be a politician; however, he should understand the force of politics, and the king has the previlege to concilliate the country when the politics of making is unrest.

Moreover, to provide a fair solution to the dilemma which Cambodian facing seriously since the year end of 2005, King Norodom Sihakmoni should understant three groups, which consists of, first is Hun Sen and CPP that represents about 1.5 million of eligible voters of Cambodian population. The CPP are very powerful in term of authority. The CPP don't have a clear ideology but to crap the power and mantain it. They execute before they think. They are the Communist and still the Communist.

The second group is Norodom Ranariddh and FUNCIPEC. Ranariddh and FUNCIPEC is losing the grip and identity. The FUNCIPEC has become a ride along passanger with CPP. The politics of FUNCIPEC is to share and co-operate whether left or right, FUNCIPEC will do for as long as 30% or 70% is given in power. The FUNCIPEC's supporters have been declined. The eligible voters who still support FUNCIPEC is half of million.

The third group is oppositions and democrats. These groups are very clear in their identity. They are fighting for a real democracy. They are fight for a change and human rights. These groups have the largest supporters in Cambodia and abroad, together more than two million.

Furthermore, the international community and Khmer abroad have pushed for stronger democracy and have condemned the government of Cambodia of their action having unfair prosecution toward oppositions and democratic activists.

Which side is the young king take to be fair? For a suggestion, the king must look at the objective of our country, Cambodia and her principle since UNTAC. The objective of Cambodia is to have peace and prosperity. The stability that a normal citizen can function his or her daily life without interruption by conflict of politics.

In addition, the United Nation has established a principle of democracy by spending over two billion dollars to organize and to rebuild Cambodia which by planting a seed of democracy so that every Cambodian can exercise his or her democratic rights.

Because the principle of democracy is in placed, that why international community agree to provide aids and loans to assist Cambodian government to develope the prosperity, and that why there are investments and investors come to do business in Cambodia. Moreover, there are export of garments and agricultural products which on their way to many continents like Europe and North America. Besides these, Cambodian has been accepted into Asean and WTO and many more wordly activities.

To be consistent with the principle of democracy of UNTAC, internally and externally, Cambodian has formed an opposition and a democratic activist group to monitor and to make sure that the democracy must on its way, and to make sure that the principle of democracy is vital.

Therefore, for the king not to pardon oppositions and democratic activists from the unfair conviction, it won't be the right decision. It will be an insult to the effort of UNTAC and international community, and it will be a violation to the principle of democracy of which in placed by UNTAC for Cambodian.


By Chhim Samoeoun.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

The view from Phnom Penh

The Daily Star, Bangladesh - 4 Jan 06

The view from Phnom Penh
Verghese Mathews

This has not been a good year at all for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party though it has turned out to be much better than expected for the dominant Cambodian People's Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen and its coalition partner in government, the royalist Funcinpec, headed by Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Meanwhile, newly crowned King Norodom Sihamoni manifested a regal decorum and a quiet charm that quickly endeared him especially to the common folk"the little people" as his father, ex-King Sihanouk, was wont fondly to refer to them.

Hun Sen, Ranariddh and Rainsy have, over the years, all played centre stage with varying degrees of success and failure. In the process they have raised debilitating politicking and disruptive one-upmanship into a fine art.

Notwithstanding this, there has been a gradual maturing of the political styles in the past year. Old-fashioned politicians who were rewarded for past services are being slowly replaced by more educated and competent young politicians and technocrats who are able to address complex challenges and relate equally well to the increasing numbers of potentially troublesome unemployed youths moving to the cities and towns.

This evolving change in the political party scene has gone largely unnoticed as all focus has been on the main players. Not surprisingly, despite the infusion of the new blood, the infighting, the factionalism and the one-upmanship of Cambodian politics continue.

Looking back at 2005, King Sihamoni has undoubtedly emerged as the best-loved figure, with Hun Sen clearly the strongest of the leaders while Ranariddh has surprised his detractors as a deft survivor and a practical politician.

Rainsy is indisputably the main loser. This was sealed on December 22 when a Cambodian court found him guilty on two counts of criminal defamation and sentenced him in absentia to 18 months in prison for remarks he made against Hun Sen and Ranariddh. Rainsy, who has been in self-exile in Paris following the removal of his parliamentary immunity from prosecution in February, refused to attend the trial.

Rainsy was alleged to have accused Hun Sen of being involved in a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally that resulted in 19 deaths. He was also alleged to have accused Ranariddh of having accepted substantial bribes from the CPP as an inducement for Funcinpec to join the government.

Rainsy has termed the judicial decision farcical and repeated his allegation that the Cambodian courts are not independent. The US State Department expressed concern at what it termed was the continuing deterioration of democratic principles such as free speech.

Likewise, Rainsy's friends overseas, including human rights organizations, have come out in his support, but back home where the votes count, his glamour is gone and his party is steadily losing credibility.

Some suggest that while Rainsy's extended stay outside the country had given unprecedented elbow room for other aspirants in his tightly-run party, no clear alternative leader has emerged. With the latest court ruling, Rainsy will continue to remain outside with limited options. Some supporters have suggested a party-in-exile leading to a government-in-exile!

Meanwhile, Rainsy has quickly called for a pardon from the King, an act which will return him to public life in Phnom Penh. Already his friends and supporters, especially the anti-Hun Sen Cambodian diaspora in the US and France, are picking up this call and flooding internet newsgroups with similar demands to the King.

A couple of months ago, there was a similar flood of appeals by almost the same groups for the King not to sign a supplementary border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam. The young King was under tremendous pressure for weeks, even when it was clear to many that his hands were tied as a constitutional monarch. Sihamoni could have, as some suggested, chosen the easy way out and gone on a holiday, leaving it to the acting Head of State to sign the bill into law. In the event Sihamoni boldly chose to stay and signed the bill knowing that it would upset some people.

Once again, the pressure is building upthis time for Sihamoni to pardon Rainsy and others and, once again, observers believe that Sihamoni will do the right thing.

The pressure is much less these days on Hun Sen. At the recent annual CPP congress, he was named the undisputed prime-ministerial candidate in the 2008 election, a far cry from the situation before the last election when the confirmation was not so readily forthcoming until much nearer the polls. In addition, many observers are convinced that the enlarged CPP Central Committee, from 153 to 268 members, has many of Hun Sen's men.

Hun Sen is clearly in charge, and this is not at all surprising given that he has done well both as a clear-minded and resolute Prime Minister and as a party strategist. However, the toughness he sometimes exhibits has not endeared him to liberal groups and human rights activists at home and abroad.

Ranariddh is the luckiest. In the last decade his party's fortunes have gone from bad to worse and many had written it off after the last election. His joining the government has given him a lifeline and he knows it. The subsequent warming-up of personal relations between him and Hun Sen, though it has not percolated all the way down to the provincial structures, has been a great boost for Funcinpec and generally good for the country.

What started off as an uncertain year for Cambodia is ending better than expected. The IMF has just announced that it will provide 100 percent of debt relief, amounting to approximately $82 million, incurred by Cambodia to the IMF before January 1, 2005.

The IMF noted that Cambodia had qualified for the debt relief because "of its overall satisfactory recent macroeconomic performance, progress in poverty reduction, and improvements in public expenditure management."

The IMF further noted that since 1999, Cambodia had enjoyed robust economic expansion, with annual growth rates averaging over 7 percent with inflation under control and with improving public administration, in particular public expenditure management.

While that is a good way to end the year, the new year will bring varied and complex challenges, the major ones being the need to further strengthen its institutions and to ensure that good governance is firmly rooted in the country. This calls especially for a determined and comprehensive attempt at curbing corruption and dismantling the equally deeply entrenched patronage system.

It is now for Hun Sen to focus on and to promote the younger generation of technocrats and politicians to address these challenges. This will take some time. But what is at stake is not just Hun Sen's credibility and his place in history: Cambodia's viability is also at stake. No one wants it to be a failed state.

Verghese Mathews, a former Singapore Ambassador to Cambodia, is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.


SUBMITTED BY: Verghese Mathews, Email: mat....@iseas.edu.sg Sat, 7 Jan 2006


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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Quest for Truth I

December 21, 2005
Quest for Truth I
By Kok Sap
Victim of April 17,1975


Who's Khim Tit? This question was in my mind for sometimes. This man was a former province of Battambang governor who rose through ministerial ranks in Sihanouk regimes pre and post-colonial reign. But for some reasons people had not stressed enough of this man notoriety in meddling Cambodia independence endeavor. He eventually remains a questionable trigger who had a lot to do with Cambodia past and present instability.

To the Cambodia fragile Independence plan, this man might not seem to be that of significance at the time. But he certainly had played a key role in sabotaging Cambodia self-rule and determination from the get going. Mentality wise, he seemed to fit well with Hun Sen own colonial collaboration. Overwhelmingly many seemed disagreed over his government and practices throughout years. This question has been floating until this date and yet escaped Sihanouk memories entirely when come to truth.

Undeniably, to many sensible and conscionable later generations, this still seemed to be an unsolved mystery. Those who had stained hands then seemed to withdraw and hide them in French pantalon pockets. Some still arrogantly refuted and disrespected truth. Some questioned own nationality validity and integrity? Out of the two best known historians of post colonial Cambodia seemed to lend supports in truth searching for our readers. In this case let re-examine one of the detractors motif and sense of nationalism at the time.

According to a journalist Milton Osborne account in his book titled Sihanouk Prince of Light Prince of Darkness, on p 38, Charles Myer argued that some years were to pass before Sihanouk seriously engaged himself in affairs of state rather than making the pursuit of pleasure his dominant concern. Certainly, the evidence is overwhelming that after the Japanese coup de force Sihanouk was content to rely on the largely conservative advice of men such as his uncle Prince Monireth or Khim Tit, a provincial governor who was to join the cast of politicians whose names repeatedly featured in the revolving door cabinets of the 1940s and 50s.

Then on p.46, in 1945s, Khim Tit, was Son Ngoc Thanh's minister for defense and an unquestioned Francophile became increasingly concerned as Thanh sought to establish links with the emerging communist-dominated regime in Viet Nam.

On p.47, asserted that the removal of Thanh from office was engineered by Khim Tit as Khim Tit's own version of the events surrounding Thanh's removal from office is self serving and unsatisfactory. While Son Ngoc Thanh seemed prepared to risk armed conflict with the French, Sihanouk heeded to advice of his conservative advisers, responding in cautious and polite terms to a call from Admiral Argenlieu, whom De Gaulle had sent to Indo China as high commissioner, to dispatch representatives to the planned meeting in India that would discuss the Cambodia's future relations with France.

Son Ngoc Thanh's own assessment seemed to risk over Cambodia independence as opposed to Sihanouk own monkey trick reservation. On October 8, Khim Tit suddenly left for Saigon with Charles de Gaulle government military officer Major Gallois. The author conveyed with credible proof that Khim Tit trip was to cook up plots and appeared personal with De Gaulle government official General Jacques Philippe Leclerc to ousting Son Ngoc Thanh from office. To his disappointment Prince Monireth was assuming Thanh job on October 17, rather than Khim Tit himself. But Sihanouk never admitted that he was behind the plot but never denied that he was aware of Khim Tit trip to Saigon to meet Gen. Leclerc. Then in 1973 when he was representing the Cambodia delegation at UN, the same devious veteran conservative, Khim Tit, had claimed to have seen a police report that Khieu Samphan had been burnt to death with acid, while Hou Youn and Hu Nim,who had gone to the marquis in 1967,had been crushed beneath bulldozer tracks. This was insanely ludicrous and irresponsible.

Concurrently David Chandler accounts in his book titled The Tragedy of Cambodian History on p.24 asserted that the provisional government of Charles De Gaulle sent military officers back to Indo China whom later aided the self-serving Khim Tit, a new minister of defense, in arrest his superior Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh.This account clearly supported by the British Officer Lt.Colonel E.D Murray in 1982 interview stated on October 8 1945 he was there and had worked closely with Khim Tit, who had, after trip from Saigon, published a disingenuous report denying that he had been collaborated with French Gen.Leclerc in arresting Son Ngoc Thanh then.

Double Jeopardizes on Khim Tit was in fact a bolded face liar. Then Chandler went on p.37 to state that Khim Tit went on to be the head of National Union Party of Sisowath Lycee clique in divergent task in addition to Khmer Renovation Party led by the clique from Colonial Chasseloup Laubat Lycee to drown out Democrats Party progressive campaign for election in the absence of its founding leader Yuthevong death in 1947.

This enough to say that Son Ngoc Thanh was in fact a dreamer of Cambodia Independence. Yet his legacy had been distorted by a handful of Sihanouk loyal cronies untruthfulness and disingenuous accounts. Let it be known that the truth remain untold to the Cambodia generations that who is the real Sihanouk and are his co-conspirators in term of history.

SUBMITTED BY: kok sap, Email: koks....@yahoo.com
Sun, 25 Dec 2005


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Freedom Of Expression Being Haunted By Ghost Of The Past

Freedom Of Expression Being Haunted By Ghost Of The Past

Majority of Cambodian whether they are living abroad or in Cambodia, they seem to be locked up by the past of intimidation which one was prohibited to make critic a bad performance by a leader. Moreover, Cambodian used to living under a dictatorships for many decades that governing in different forms of systems. For any of this of government, one could not say anything to inform or to criticize a leader from the bottom to the top. For example, if an individual says something to criticize a leader even a president of a community or an executive of a community, one would be in a thread like, if you are in Cambodia, you would have been killed or bitten up. In addition, if one is living abroad and criticizing Hun Sen or Norodom Ranaridh, one would be told, "..be careful when you are going to Cambodia, or you are so modest here, why don't you try in front of Hun Sen and his men." Even worst, you are told to shut up and to leave the those alone and let them do what they are doing.

We seem afraid of our shadow or should I say the ghost of the past. How does the democracy spousper in Cambodia, and how does the process of our democracy in progress when we keep sabotaging our expression, and furthermore, the FUNCI and CPP's government keep amending constitution that dealing with freedom of expression and free press?

By one's understanding, freedom of expression is one of the key to democracy. However, when freedom of expression has been shut, the key process of democracy is invanded.

I can only say one thing, we must use our right, and tell those who shut us up to shut up! If we want a democracy, we have to get the democracy ourself!

SUBMITTED BY: Samoeun Chhim, Email: samoeun....@yahoo.ca Tue, 27 Dec 2005


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