Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cambodia Kicks Off General Election Campaign

Cambodia Kicks Off General Election Campaign

Source: AFP

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian political parties on Thursday kicked off month-long campaigning for a general election that Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is expected to dominate.

Thousands of supporters of various parties took to the capital's streets for raucous marches, while motorscooters adorned with political banners and the national flag roared up and down the roads.

CPP president Chea Sim told about 10,000 supporters at their Phnom Penh headquarters that the ruling party was committed to economic growth.

The CPP supporters, dressed in T-shirts adorned with the party logo, cheered when Chea Sim took a swipe at rival parties.

"Those ill-willed people always elevate themselves while blaming others. They have done nothing in the interest of the people except tell lies, deceive, insult and agitate for conflict in the society," Chea Sim said.

"For this, they will not have a chance of getting the people's support," he added.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, wearing a garland of flowers, appealed to populist sentiments, vowing to fight inflation and other economic woes as he addressed 1,000 supporters in a Phnom Penh park.

"Land that has been grabbed will be given back to the people. Vote for Rainsy to drop the price of gasoline and raise the salaries of civil servants," he said to cheering supporters who later paraded with him through the city.

Despite the celebratory mood, analysts have said Sam Rainsy and the party that bears his name have little chance of defeating Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen has run Cambodia for 23 years, making him Southeast Asia's longest-serving leader besides the sultan of Brunei.

His current coalition partner, the royalist Funcinpec party, has been hobbled by infighting and the ouster of its leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who has formed his own party.

Ranariddh, in self-imposed exile in Kuala Lumpur and convicted of fraud for the illegal sale of his former party's headquarters, promised some 3,000 supporters by phone that he would address "border, immigration, poverty and (illegal) land selling issues."

"Stop voting for Prime Minister Hun Sen and his people, and vote for Norodom Ranariddh Party," he said.

With the royalist ranks divided, Sam Rainsy is the main opposition force, but is expected to win few votes outside the capital.

Hun Sen rival Kem Sokha has formed a new Human Rights Party that will be cutting its teeth in the polls.

There are 11 parties competing for 123 parliamentary seats in the July 27 poll.

Some 8.1 million people are registered to vote at 15,000 polling stations, under the eyes of more than 13,000 domestic and international observers.

Koul Panha, director of election monitoring group Comfrel, told AFP that there has been some political intimidation in the run up to the election but the atmosphere seemed to be "better than previous elections."

However the CPP retains a ubiquitous presence across the country and a tight grip on every level of government.

During his rule, Hun Sen has ruthlessly undermined his political rivals and staged a coup in 1997, after elections forced him to share power.

But he has also steered the impoverished country out of the ashes of civil war and overseen a growing economy through increasing trade and tourism.

Garment exports and tourism have brought double-digit economic growth, but Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest countries. Some 35 percent of its 14 million people live on less than 50 US cents a day.

Human rights activists have also questioned whether Cambodia's economic growth is coming at too high a price, and accuse the government of evicting poor villagers from their land to make way for a construction boom.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Request for the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site in FRENCH

Request for the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site in FRENCH

KI-Media note: The map shown above is probably no longer valid due to recent Thailand's objection

Click on each page above to zoom in

Click here to download the PDF file (in French)
Cliquez ici pour télécharger le fichier PDF

Joint communiqué between Cambodia and Thailand on Preah Vihear Temple listing


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Development Leaves Cambodians Homeless

Development Leaves Cambodians Homeless

June 25, 2008
By Gaffar Peang-Meth (guampdn.com)

My June 11 column referenced The Guardian's Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark's "Country for Sale," which stated that "almost half of Cambodia has been sold to foreign speculators in the past 18 months." It also referred to Business Week's Susan Postlewaite's "Real Estate Boom in Cambodia's capital," in which she observed this boom "has led to widespread evictions of people" from their homes and land to accommodate development projects.

If you Google "land-grabbing in Cambodia" you'll see volumes written on the topic, from newspaper articles to columns and reports by human rights groups. Watch videos and listen to the voices of Cambodian evictees, even on YouTube.

They reveal how the poor, the underprivileged in Cambodia suffer unspeakable pain and hardship. After all, what's life anywhere when a person's home and land are dismantled and bulldozed without discussion, and one is beaten and kicked and faces jail for not moving out?

Radio Free Asia's "China's Growing Presence in Cambodia," published on its Web site May 28, takes the issue of land-grabbing to a higher level, alleging high officials' involvement. The Web site also recorded 29 land-grabbing cases in January and February alone.

Amnesty International's "Forced Evictions in Cambodia: Homes Razed, Lives in Ruins," published Feb. 11, states "forced evictions are one of the most widespread human rights violations affecting Cambodians in both rural and urban areas." It asserts, "At least 150,000 Cambodians across the country are known to live at risk of being forcibly evicted in the wake of land disputes, land grabbing and development projects."

"In sharp contrast to the rhetoric of the (Cambodian) government's pro-poor policies and in breach of international human rights laws and standards," the Amnesty International article states, "thousands of people, particularly those living in poverty, have been forcibly evicted from their homes and lands."

On June 12, a Hong Kong-based regional non-governmental organization that monitors and lobbies human rights issues in Asia, The Asian Human Rights Commission, posted an online petition, "End Land Grabbing in Cambodia," and urges "the public to join" the petition, which can be read at http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/landgrabbing.

The online petition is addressed to Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen. It expresses signers' deep concerns "about the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Cambodian people who have been, and who are known to live in fear of being evicted as a result of development projects, land disputes and land-grabbing." It asks the premier to "immediately end the suffering and fears ... by halting all evictions, ... and by suspending all land concessions for development projects that affect people's homes and lands."

I don't know if the petition will move the 55-year-old Cambodian ruler to comply, nor do I know if it will incite the world community to help the Cambodian poor and end the land-grabbing.

Action needed

I used to recite to my students at the University of Guam Edmund Burke's words: "All that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." And I write often in this space that unless one takes action, one cannot expect anything to happen the way one wishes. I have discussed the problem of "free riders" who expected "others" to act for the common good.

So I added my name on the AHRC petition, and my computer screen showed that it was sent electronically to the prime minister's cabinet.

Six days before the AHRC's petition, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Licadho) put online, complete with photos, "Two Years After their Eviction from the Center of Phnom Penh, Villagers are Still Living in Squalor." It was about the June 6, 2006, eviction of more than 1,000 families from their homes in Sambok Chap village in inner-city Phnom Penh by "police and military police armed with guns, tear gas, batons and riot shields."

"The residents were forced onto trucks and taken to be dumped in an open field at Andong, 22 kilometers from central Phnom Penh -- their new 'home'," reads the text. "There was no shelter, electricity, running water, schools, health services or readily available employment nearby."

June 6, 2008, marked the two-year anniversary of the eviction.

"The site of their former homes in Sambok Chap -- slated for commercial development by a private company -- remains bare and unused, while the evictees continue to live in squalor at the Andong relocation site," Licadho stated.

Licadho refers to Sambok Chap as "just one case in a wider pattern of rapid, unregulated and often illegal development across Cambodia. ... It is exacerbated by a culture of corruption and impunity and, all too often, by an international donor community which turns a blind eye to such abuses."

Yet, in less than four weeks this international donor community can be expected to congratulate the region's longest-serving premier for his forthcoming July 27 election victory, to continue his reign, which Agence France Presse says he vowed publicly to keep until he turns 90.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. Write him at peangmeth@yahoo.com.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

POLITICS-CAMBODIA: Facing One-Sided Polls

Facing One-Sided Polls

Monday, June 23, 2008
Analysis by Andrew Nette (IPSNEWS.NET)

PHNOM PENH, Jun 23 (IPS) - While Cambodia’s national election is more than a month away the results are in little doubt. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) appears certain to return as the dominant party and, for the first time, win enough seats in the National Assembly to rule on its own.

According to the National Election Committee (NEC), approximately 8.6 million Cambodians are registered to vote in the polls, the fourth since the United Nations-sponsored peace plan in the early 1990s heralded the end of one-party rule.

And with Cambodian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and a number of countries gearing up for a major monitoring effort, charges of dirty tricks and voter intimidation are already being levelled against the powerful CPP.

"The election process can be considered free in the sense that violence is down, people are obviously not intimidated to cast their vote and the administration (of the poll) is better," said Jerome Cheung, country director for the National Democratic Institute (NDI). "It is what happens before the election that does not make it fair, including CPP’s total domination of broadcast media and intimidation of journalists and opposition."

"So far we have found some technical problems, but the capacity of the NEC has been improving and the number of irregularities has been declining," said Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator with the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL).

In one particularly positive change, votes will be counted at the polling station at which they are cast on the night of the election.

In 2003, they were transported to collective counting stations which, observers agree, gave increased scope for manipulation.

The most contentious part of the process, voter registration, took place last year with the NEC deciding to remove nearly 600,000 voter names from the list.

A recent audit of the voter list by a number of organisations, among them COMFREL and NDI, found most eligible voters registered and the vast majority of invalid voters delisted.

"Some (problems) are administrative, some are the result of overzealous party officials acting for their party," said Cheung. "There’s no national conspiracy by any political party manipulating the registration process."

It is commune chiefs, the vast majority of whom are CPP affiliated, who administer the process undertaken manually in handwritten form. Only when the registrations lists are passed on to the NEC in Phnom Penh are they computerised. This opens up the possibility of significant transfer error.

While observers give NEC credit for improving its performance, there are serious misgivings about its capacity and lack of independence. Concerns include the appointment of NEC council members by political parties and the body’s location within the interior ministry. With the exception of the two months leading up to an election, NEC has no permanent sub-national structure and must rely on commune councils that take directions from the ministry.

However, the most serious barriers to free and fair elections stem from the country’s broader political culture. The country’s electronic media, most of which is controlled by CPP, gives little time to opposition party voices.

Independent media outlets are often harassed or -- as recently happened in the case of one radio station selling airtime to opposition parties in the central province of Kratie -- shut down.

There is also a lingering culture of intimidation that prevents people from speaking out more freely in the pre-election period.

In early June, a coalition of 40 Cambodian civil society organisations expressed deep concern over the increase in political violence in the first half of 2008. There were five assassinations of political party members and 21 cases of political persecution in the first half of the year. Most of the perpetrators are yet to be arrested, let alone tried, by a court system that is heavily biased in favour of the CPP.

"Cases of murder, threat, intimidation and political prosecution are occurring, especially in far flung areas," Thun Saray, president of local rights group ADHOC, told a press conference.

Rights lobbies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also accused the CPP of political intimidation and manipulation of the judicial system in the lead-up to the July poll.

While lamenting the lack of a more level playing field, commentators concede the opposition’s continued focus on point scoring rather than presenting a unified front also contributes to the situation. Eleven parties will contest the Jul. 27 poll, down from 23 in the 2003 election.

The most serious challenger, the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), named after its leader, has been weakened by a series of high-level defections to the CPP in return for well-paid advisorships, courtesy state funds.

"I think the CPP knows that we are doing well, this is why they are working so hard on their psychological and political game," said Mu Soc Hua, SRP deputy secretary-general. "Our people are under pressure, heavy pressure every day. Some people with less integrity have been bought off."

The other major political player and CPP’s coalition partner, Funcinpec, has virtually disintegrated after in-fighting following the ouster of its leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh two years ago. Ranariddh -- who has formed his own party and is contesting the election from exile in Malaysia-- could gain some seats.

A nationwide grassroots political machine, a formidable war chest, and the the backing of most of the country's wealthiest business tycoons augment the CPP’s dominance.

A recent opinion poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Phnom Penh found that 70 percent of Cambodians believe that the country is headed in the right direction. While the poll did not posit any direct correlation to voter intentions, there is little doubt CPP has positioned itself well to take credit for Cambodia’s rapid economic growth while shunting responsibility for problems such as skyrocketing fuel and food prices onto international factors beyond its control.

And while there is speculation that the so-called ‘youth factor’ will be potentially running against the CPP -- over 50 percent of registered voters are between 18 and 30 years of age -- John Willis, IRI country director, disagrees. "There is no demographic group that is more pro-CPP than youth. The majority of youth is in the rural areas and they are concerned with livelihoods. They want jobs and CPP is able to deliver them."

Prime Minister Hun Sen has already vowed that CPP would govern alone, if victorious, ending an unstable coalition deal in place since Cambodia's first multi-party election in 1993.

His decision has been facilitated by a constitutional amendment that allows government to be formed on the basis of a simple majority rather than a two-thirds majority, as was the case in previous elections.

It will be a historic victory for CPP, installed by the Vietnamese when they invaded the country in 1979 and overthrew the Khmer Rouge government , responsible for the deaths of nearly two million Cambodians.

It would also be a personal triumph for Hun Sen, a peasant’s son and former Khmer Rouge cadre, who has destroyed, coopted or outsmarted all his rivals since being installed as President by the Vietnamese in 1985.

The United States, Japan and the European Commission have announced they will be sending monitors for the election.

COMFREL and the other major Cambodian poll monitoring organisation, Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, each plan to field some 7,000 short and long term monitors.

Opposition parties are dismissive of this effort.

"All the bad things have already happened," said Hua of SRP. "I say to all these international monitors -- you may as well come to Cambodia and have a vacation on election-day.

"The true test for this democracy will be when there is a peaceful transition of power...this has not happened yet," said Cheung. Given what all agree is the one-sided nature of the contest it does not appear to be a test Cambodia will face this soon.


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Friday, June 20, 2008

US Army trucks recently donated to the Cambodian government are being used to transport illegal logs

Recently donated US Army trucks (Photo: AP)
18 June 2008
By Sophorn (Radio Free Asia)
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy (KI-Media)
Click here to read the original article in Khmer

A witness, who is a local journalist, indicated that US Army trucks recently donated to the Cambodian government are being used to transport illegal logs, however, US embassy officials denied that this story is not true.

A local journalist claimed that soldiers from army unit Ngo-70 confiscated his camera while he was taking pictures of police arresting 2 trucks carrying wood logs. The trucks are suspected to be donations by the US.

The local journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear for his personal safety, indicated on 15 June, he saw soldiers and police officers stopping 3 trucks, he then started taking pictures of these vehicles when 3 soldiers from the army unit Ngo-70 came to take his camera and confiscated the film in the camera.

He added that about 30 minutes later, following an intervention from their superior, the soldiers then returned the camera back to him

According to an eyewitness, who happens to be a local journalist also, said that at about 2:00 PM on Sunday, at the Snab Ta Oan village, Koki commune, Kien Svay district, Kandal province, along National Road No. 1, a group of police officers stopped 2 trucks loaded with wood logs, during this operation, national military police force was also present.

He added that, later on the military police and soldiers group send 20-cubic-meter of precious wood to be stored at the house of General Mao Sophan, the commander of army unit Ngo-70, located in Spov Kanleng village, Dey Ith commune, Kien Svay district, Kandal province, then the trucks took off.

RFA attempted to obtain clarification from the Kien Svay district police chief since 17 June, but he told RFA to wait until 18 June instead, However, on 18 June, RFA called him and his deputy back many times, but no one picked up their phones.

Heng Thieb, the Kien Svay district governor, indicated that he knew there was a wood inspection that took place, but that this is the duty of the forestry department, and he said for RFA to ask the forestry department instead.

Heng Thieb said: “I only know that they belong to the joint force of the forestry department.”

Sophorn (RFA): So was there any confiscation as reported or not, Mr. Deputy-governor?

Heng Thieb: There was a wood inspection. The department of forestry is working on it.

On Wednesday, RFA tried to call Y Sophy, the director of the Kien Svay forestry department, for clarification, but no one picked up the phone.

Jeff Daigle, the public relation officer of the US embassy in Cambodia, said that he heard about this story since Monday. He sent an expert to check and the expert noted that the 31 trucks provided by the US Army have not been put to use yet, he said that the report is only a rumor.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cambodia's institutions must be empowered

Cambodia's Institutions Must Be Empowered

Column: Rule by Fear
Published: June 18, 2008

Hong Kong, China — Since 1993 the international community has been assisting Cambodia in establishing parliamentary democracy and rule of law, as well as the administrative machinery of government. Fifteen years later, the infrastructure is physically present but is so wracked by corruption that it is largely dysfunctional.

The system cannot secure the constitutional rights of the Cambodian people. The law is not predictable. As a result the people have very little trust in the established system.

These institutions remain subject to the control inherited from pre-1993 communist days, and are utilized to serve the interests of the ruling class rather than those of the people. Although Cambodia has held periodic elections, and preparations for the forthcoming election are underway, its multi-party, liberal democracy has little substance.

First of all, there is no separation of powers among the three branches of government. The idea of checks and balances is entirely absent. The Parliament is overwhelmingly dominated by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, a former communist party, and is unable to hold the government accountable for its decisions and activities. Its main function seems to be to rubber stamp the government’s wishes into law.

The judiciary is also under executive control, as most judges and prosecutors belong to the ruling party. Other supposedly independent institutions such as the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, the judicial body responsible for the appointment and discipline of judges and prosecutors, are all peopled, from top to bottom, by members of the ruling party. And all CCP members are subject to the strict discipline of the party.

Such extensive and tight control has inevitably enabled Prime Minister Hun Sen, already acknowledged as "the strongman of Cambodia," to become even more unchallengeable. Through the party machinery, he controls all those institutions and rules the country with scant regard for the rule of law.

Sen has, for instance, ordered the retrial of accused persons already acquitted by the courts, accusing judges and prosecutors of corruption. He has ordered the arrest of critics or has threatened them with jail sentences, or killed their personalities through public name-calling. He has halted the execution of court judgments or affected these judgments through his "notification letters."

Over the last few years Hun Sen has used his personal power to address the hot issue of land grabbing, which has affected the livelihood of many Cambodians. This issue has arisen out of numerous land disputes between the rich and powerful and the weaker poor.

Sen has recently revealed that he wants to resolve all these disputes “outside the justice system.” In 2006 he created a national authority to resolve land disputes, ignoring the legal jurisdiction of the courts of law and the cadastral commissions created specifically for the purpose under the land law of 2001. A year later, he waged a "war against land grabbers," identified as officials of his party and other “people in power.” Last March he went to a piece of disputed land and, in the midst of the evicted families, took the land from the grabbing company and gave it back to those victims.

Because of his power and his past direct intervention, the people view Hun Sen as the only person in the country who can help the victims of land grabbing, as they lose trust in the courts and other authorities. Over recent months, many have been flocking to his residence on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to petition him for help.

On May 23 some 200 people from the Battambang province journeyed on foot and by car to petition Sen at his residence. The representatives of 265 families in Koh Kong province arrived on June 9, and over 200 people from four different provinces of the country arrived four days later.

Still, Hun Sen’s direct intervention has made little headway. He simply cannot meet all those people’s demands. Some marchers from Battambang province still wait in Phnom Penh after handing in their petition to his office. One desperate marcher declared that if Samdech Hun Sen did not resolve her land dispute and the land dispute adjudicating authorities did not do it either, her group would buy all law books and burn them in front of the Ministry of Justice in Phnom Penh. There is still a big backlog of cases and new ones keep arising.

Hun Sen has not used his power to empower the state institutions and administrative machinery, which lie under his firm control, for public interest. Thus adjudication of land disputes is personally directed toward him. He should exercise his power, not through direct intervention, but to create a more efficient infrastructure so that the existing institutions are able to capture the people’s trust and serve the public interest.

Jean Monet, widely known as the founding father of the European Union, said, “Nothing is possible without men; nothing is lasting without institutions.” Monet’s dictum is very much relevant to the establishment of well-functioning institutions for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law to serve the Cambodian people and not simply the ruling class.


(Lao Mong Hay is a senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. He was previously director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a visiting professor at the University of Toronto in 2003. In 1997, he received an award from Human Rights Watch and the Nansen Medal in 2000 from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.)

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Testimonials from former prisoners of the Boeng Trabek Camp under the direction of Hor Nam Hong between November 1977 and January 1979

H.E. Hor Nam Hong, in charge of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Deputy Prime Minister
Testimonials from former prisoners of the Boeng Trabek Camp under the direction of Hor Nam Hong between November 1977 and January 1979

Translated from French
La version française se trouve en bas du texte anglais

These testimonials from people still alive now, were published in the
January 1990 issue of the Non Communist Resistance Bulletin Published by the Non-communist Anti-Vietnamese Resistance (Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s Funcinpec and Mr. Son San’s KPNLAF)

Testimonials by Mr. and Mrs. Ieng Kounsaky

We, Ieng Kounsaky and Keo Bunthouk, having known Mr. Hor Nam Hong since 1969 and having lived two years under his authority as the director of the Boeng Trabek re-education and forced labor camp near Phnom Penh, between 1977 and 1978, have the duty to reveal the following truths below:

As a very zealous director of this camp, Mr. Hor Nam Hong had as his aids: his wife who was the “President” of the women group, and his son who was “chief” of the youth group.

Testimonials from Mr. Sao Kim Hong

It is useful to recall that Hor Nam Hong’s family [at the Boeng Trabek camp] consisted of a family of presidents:

  • Mr. Hor Nam Hong, vice-president [whom I knew since the old camp] at Chraing Chamres, became President after the departure of Mr. Van Piny in 1977.
  • Mrs. Hor Nam Hong, née Borey, [women] vice-president, became President following the departure of Mrs. Van Piny in 1977.
  • Their eldest son Thoun [Hor Sothoun] still assumed the position of youth president.

Testimonials from Mrs. Sisowath Ayrawadi

(…). There were about 60 people [in Section B32 of the Boeng Trabek camp]. It was in this center that I and my family lived until April 1978.

From January to November [1977], B32 was directed by Mr. Van Piny, the President of the center, Mr. Hor Nam Hong, the vice-president, was his right hand man.

When Mr. Van Piny and Chorn, his wife and the women president, were taken away, [Mr. and Mrs. Hor Nam Hong replaced them as B32 President and women president, respectively.]



Ces témoignages de personnes encore vivantes à ce jour, ont été publiés dans le numéro de Janvier 1990 du Bulletin NCR (Non Communist Resistance) publié par la Résistance non-communiste anti-vietnamienne (Funcinpec du prince Norodom Sihanouk et FNLPK de M. Son Sann)

Témoignage de Mr et Mme Ieng Kounsaky

Nous soussignés Ieng Kounsaky et Keo Bunthouk, ayant connu M. Hor Nam Hong depuis 1969 et ayant vécu pendant deux années sous son autorité de directeur du camp de rééducation et de travaux forcés en 1977 et 1978 à Boeng Trabek près de Phnom Penh,

Avons le devoir de révéler les vérités ci-dessous.

En qualité de directeur très zélé de ce camp, M. Hor Nam Hong avait comme aides son épouse "Présidente" du groupe des femmes, et son fils "chef" du groupe des jeunes.

Témoignage de Mr Sao Kim Hong

Il serait utile de rappeler que la famille Hor Nam Hong formait [dans le camp de Boeng Trabek] une famille de présidents:

  • M. Hor Nam Hong, vice-président [que je connaissais depuis l'ancien campement] à Chraing Chamrès, devint Président après le départ de M. Van Piny en 1977.
  • Mme Hor Nam Hong, née Borey, vice présidente [des femmes], devint Présidente après le départ de Mme Van Piny en 1977.
  • Leur fils aîné Thoun [Hor Sothoun] assumait toujours la fonction de président des jeunes.

Témoignage de Mme Sisowath Ayravadi

(…). On y compte une soixantaine de personnes [dans la section B32 du camp de Boeng Trabek]. C'est dans ce centre que moi et ma famille avons vécu jusqu'en avril 1978.

De janvier à novembre [1977], le B32 a été dirigé par M. Van Piny, Président du centre, secondé par M. Hor Nam Hong, vice-président.

Quand M. Van Piny et son épouse nommée Chorn, présidente des femmes, ont été emmenés, [Mr et Mme Hor Nam Hong les ont remplacés respectivement comme Président du B32 et présidente des femmes].

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008



Ek Cheng Hout, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Court sent a letter to the president of the National Assembly on 16 June, 2008 requesting temporary lifting of Mr. Sam Rainsy's parliamentary immunity.

In his letter, prosecutor Ek Cheng Hout claims that following preliminary investigation, evidence gathered indicates that Mr. Sam Rainsy can be suspect of defamation, according to Articles 62 and 63 of UNTAC Criminal Law.

Please click document in Khmer at http://tinyurl.com/3ryq4f

SRP Cabinet

Source: Sam Rainsy Party Forum - by SRP Cabinet

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hun Sen Faces Few Challengers as Cambodia Vote Nears

Hun Sen Faces Few Challengers as Cambodia Vote Nears

June 16, 2008
Source: AFP

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — With nearly six weeks until Cambodia's general election, almost everyone says they already know the result.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Southeast Asia's longest-serving leader besides the sultan of Brunei, has spent much of his 23 years in power ruthlessly undermining his political rivals, who are now so weakened that analysts say none have much hope of success.

Cambodia has 57 parties, but only 11 are running in the July 27 poll -- less than half the number that contested the last national election five years ago.

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) towers above them all.

"Who will win? The CPP. No doubt about that. Even without taking into consideration threats, pressure and vote buying, the CPP is the one with the people on the ground," said Cambodian political analyst Chea Vannath.

The CPP was installed by communist Vietnam in 1979, after Hanoi invaded and toppled the Khmer Rouge -- the genocidal regime behind Cambodia's infamous "Killing Fields."

While the CPP has dropped its communist ideology, it retains a ubiquitous presence across the country and a tight grip on every level of government.

"Government and administrative offices throughout the country are very extensive and tightly controlled," said Lao Mong Hay, senior researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Opposition members have already accused Hun Sen of buying off their supporters by offering them attractive jobs, a charge the premier has brushed off.

"They say that we are buying people. We are the ruling party -- we have the right to appoint them to positions of power," Hun Sen said last week, during one of his daily televised speeches given at events big and small across the country.

Hun Sen, 55, became prime minister in 1985 and has single-mindedly focused on staying in power, publicly vowing to remain in office until he turns 90.

He actually lost his first election to a royalist party in UN-backed polls in 1993, but bargained his way into becoming a "second prime minister" and then reasserted total control in a 1997 coup.

Hundreds of people were killed in the run-up to elections the following year. Protests against Hun Sen's victory were put down violently.

The last national election in 2003 was far less violent, but plunged the kingdom into a year of political stalemate as parties wrangled over forming a coalition.

The party's current coalition partner, the royalist Funcinpec, has been hobbled by infighting and the ouster of its leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who has formed his own eponymous party.

With their ranks divided, analysts say the royalists appear spent as a political force.

The main opposition Sam Rainsy Party is expected to win few votes outside the capital. Hun Sen rival Kem Sokha has formed a new Human Rights Party that will be cutting its teeth in the polls.

Some 8.1 million people are registered to vote at 15,000 polling stations, under the eyes of more than 13,000 domestic and international observers.

During his rule, Hun Sen has steered the impoverished country out of the ashes of civil war and grown the economy by opening up to trade and tourism.

Garment exports and tourism have brought double-digit economic growth, but Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest countries. Some 35 percent of its 14 million people live on less than 50 US cents a day.

Spiralling inflation has raised concerns about CPP's management of the economy.

"You can see the price of gasoline goes up every day," analyst Chea Vannath said. "I'm sure it will be one of the main concerns."

But he predicted Hun Sen would nonetheless romp to victory.

"The Cambodian people are traumatized by past experiences, so they don't show up on the street," she said.

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Adventurers drawn to the beauty of Cambodia

Adventurers drawn to the beauty of Cambodia

Source: china view
2008-06-16 09:49:47

BEIJING, June 16 -- After decades of unrest, Cambodia is coming into its own as a destination for travelers eager to embrace architecture, adventure and smiles, writes Jenny Hammond.

Compared with its high profile neighbors, wartorn Vietnam and the idyllic paradise of Thailand, Cambodia tends to fly under the radar. But that does not mean this fascinating country has any less to offer.

After three decades of war, Cambodia is now at peace and attracting more and more tourists with the promise of Indiana Jones- or Tomb Raider-type adventures.

Undoubtedly Cambodia is a beautiful country, quite different from its neighbors.

For starters there are vast expanses of bright red earth house communities where the homes are built on stilts to protect residents from floods in the rainy season and the odd rogue snake, while at the same time providing shelter for livestock below.

The view feels more like something out of Africa than Asia with mango trees nestled along the sides of bumpy roads where smiling locals sell juicy slices of pineapples to weary passers-by.

Cambodia was ravaged during the war years and still has the highest number of unexploded land mines in the world. But with a vast expanse of magnificent horizons and some of the world's most breathtaking man-made structures, the horrific past is being replaced by the wonder of the country's rich cultural heritage.

The biggest attractions on the tourist trail are the temples of Angkor which are among the most incredible structures on Earth in spite of thousands of years of wear and tear and, more recently, clumsy tourist feet.

Situated near the sleepy town of Siem Reap, the temples were only rediscovered by the Western world in the 1860s although they still housed a wealthy working monastery.

The discovery generated a great deal of international interest in Cambodia, with well-known explorers swooping on the country to document their travels throughout the area. But in the last part of the last century, visiting Cambodia became difficult as the country was forced into conflict with neighbors.

With Cambodia and its relics now safe to visit following its recent past, tourism is becoming a booming industry.

And most are heading straight for Angkor. The temples of Angkor, capital of Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire, rival each other in size, detail and beauty, but Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, stands proud near the center of them all.

Angkor Wat is the best example today of man's devotions to the gods through its sheer size and intricate carvings. More than 3,000 individually carved "heavenly nymphs" adorn the structure while the high turrets of the temple all point west leading many to believe the monument was built as a tomb - the west symbolically points towards death.

A note to remember for visiting this temple is that it is lit at night between 7:30pm and 9pm so a visit at this time allows a brief escape from both the heat and the distracting tour bus crowds.

But in spite of Angkor Wat's size, it is by no means the best of the many monuments spreading throughout a thick forest.

Heading north from Siem Reap, you first come across Angkor Wat, then the walled city of Angkor Thom where stone faces of tranquil Buddhas stare serenely into the thick jungle.

To the east of the city is the mesmerizing temple of Ta Prohm intertwined in a jungle wilderness and Banteay Kdei that offers intricate stone carvings.

Restorations are underway in many of the structures, but the beauty of Ta Prohm is embellished by the way nature has reclaimed the temple with massive trees winding around the structure, breaking up walls as if they were made of sand.

Like a giant octopus enveloping the temple, the tree trunks and roots - often more than 30 centimeters wide - wind through the crevices while birds chatter noisily in the tree tops above.

With temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius, young local children run to tourists touting cold refreshments as well as a myriad of craft items such as flutes, bags, postcards and books.

While many parents have been lost in conflicts, maimed by land mines or even killed by poisonous snakes, the children still welcome visitors with wide smiles and fluent English greetings.

After the architecture, the hospitality in Cambodia is the most notable aspect of a visit there, as locals are quick to wave happily at foreign faces - making it a top destination for anyone seeking culture, beauty, kindness and an incredible adventure.

(Source: Shanghai Daily)

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An Institution of Injustice

My Court, My Justice... and My Jungle Law!!! (sacrava 1015)
I Am Not for Sale (sacrava 1012)
Release Him Immediately (sacrava 1013)
An Institution of Injustice

Sunday, June 15, 2008
Op-Ed by Chanda Chhay

If there were such a thing as an Institution of Injustice, the Cambodian Municipal Court in Phnom Penh would certainly fit into this dubious distinction. The way Judge Chhay Kong handled the case of Mr. Dam Sith, the editor of Moneasekar Khmer newspaper, was not only a miscarriage of justice but also a brazen abuse of the laws as well as the institution (court), which he represented. The issues of miscarriages of justice or judicial abuses could have happened anywhere, but Mr. Dam Sith’s case certainly merit some discussion, for it is so blatantly mediocre even a non-lawyer like me could see the flaws.

A few days ago, amidst local and international condemnations, Judge Chhay Kong issued a firm refusal to a request from a dozen or so Members of Parliament for the release of Mr. Dam Sith on the ground that they (MP’s) had no “rights” or jurisdiction to meddle in judicial procedures (See Judge Chhay Kong’s letter in Khmer at the end of this article). However, two days after denying those MP’s request, Judge Chhay Kong has turned the integrity of his court and his noble principle of keeping outside influences away from judicial procedures upside down, when he suddenly bent backward to accept a lone Member of Parliament and head of the executive branch, Mr. Hun Sen’s request to release Mr. Dam Sith. Unbelievable! It is certainly counterintuitive to see any person, let alone a judge whose decision could take a person’s liberty or life away, making such an irrational decision.

One simple premise: If those other members of parliament had no rights to intervene in the judicial procedures, neither could Mr. Hun Sen, who is also a member of parliament. Therefore, Judge Chhay Kong should also firmly and confidently tell Mr. Hun Sen that he has no rights to interfere in the judicial procedures.

I know I am being harsh on this poor Judge Chhay Kong, who has possibly been pressured by powerful politicians to act according to their wicked whim. In a dictatorial democracy like Cambodia, it is not unusual to see a judge stuck between a rock and a hard place. But, that said, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t confront our predicaments and rise up to the challenges. After all, judges could not and should not afford to make mistakes or be reckless about their decisions because a person’s liberty or life depends very much on them. When a judge could not see this simple moral imperative, it is best for him or her to give up the law books and find a different career.

Chanda Chhay
Washington, DC.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Cambodian groups decry arrest of editor, closure of radio station, in run-up to elections

Cambodian groups decry arrest of editor, closure of radio station, in run-up to elections
10 June 2008
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Cambodian rights and free expression advocates are anxious and concerned in the run up to general elections in late July, sounding the alarm over recent attacks on the media that threaten the press and the open conduct of campaigns.

The Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), a partner of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, this week expressed grave concern over reports that the Cambodian Ministry of Information (MOI) last week shut down a newly-established private radio station in Kratie province, 315 Kilometers northeast of Phnom Penh, on grounds that the radio owner had not complied with its operating contract with the ministry.

After securing permission from the MOI, Radio Angkor Ratha FM 105.25 went on air on May 15, 2008, and opened its airtime to the full range of Cambodia's political parties, including the Samrainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, FUNCINPEC and the League for Democracy Party.

Barely two weeks later, on May 28, the station was ordered to halt its broadcasts, allegedly for violating provisions in its operating contract with the Ministry.
Ten days later, on June 8, human rights groups reported the arrest of Dam Sith, editor-in-chief of the Phnom Penh newspaper, "Moneaksekar Khmer".

In a joint statement, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), and the Cambodian League for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (LICADHO) denounced the arrest as "politically motivated".

Dam Sith has been charged with defamation and disinformation. CCHR says he has been "sent to Prey Sar prison for pre-trial detention".

The ADHOC-CCHR-LICADHO statement says "Dam Sith was charged following a complaint against him by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, regarding an article published in Moneaksekar Khmer on April 18. The article reported on a speech made by Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) president Sam Rainsy, at a Khmer Rouge victims' commemoration on April 17, in which he made comments about several government ministers. Hor Namhong subsequently filed a court complaint against both Sam Rainsy and Dam Sith." The rights groups say that the arrest of Dam Sith betrays the Cambodian judiciary's "continued disregard for the civil provisions of the 1995 Press Law, in favor of using the older UNTAC Criminal Code of 1992".

CAPJ, CCHR, LICADHO, and ADHOC all linked the closure of the Angkor Ratha 105.25 and the arrest of Dam Sith to general elections scheduled for July 27. All the groups warned that the recent developments could have a chilling effect on Cambodia's free press, and restrict the free and fair conduct of party campaigns and the overall elections.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), a coalition of free press advocacy groups from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, joins the Cambodian groups in calling for the release of Dam Sith, the lifting of the closure order on Angkor Ratha, and the Cambodian government's assurance for free expression and press freedom in Cambodia. Such freedom is crucial to the credible conduct of elections, and must be assured even beyond the heated political season.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rainsy's Bravery Might Produce Devastating Consequences

Rainsy's Bravery Might Produce Devastating Consequences

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Editorial by Khmerization

Sam Rainsy's offer to swap jail term with Mr. Dam Sith, an editor of the Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper, who was arrested on the 8th of June on charges of defamation, has sent shiver down my spine. My worry has not so much focussed only on his brave offer, but much on the possibility that his offer might be accepted. I admired his courage and bravery but I also feel that his offer will result in devastating consequences for his political career and the survival of his party, if it is accepted.

First, let's look at the real scenario that might come out of this deal. And let's look at the negative side first. Rainsy must realise that he is dealing with a brutal regime and a dictatorial prime minister. Should Rainsy's offer be accepted by the Cambodian court, aided and abetted by Hor Namhong, Rainsy could be sent to jail in no time. In retrospect, Rainsy should look at the Aung San Suu Kyi's case in Burma very closely. Suu Kyi is a classic case. She has been in jail for over 18 years. And even with strong protest and sanctions from the international community, the junta regime in Burma refused to budge.

The worst case scenario that would come out of this daring deal would be the future of his political party. If he is jailed , and after international outcry Hun Sen still refuse to budge, what would the future hold for his party? A possible scenario would be that, if Rainsy is jailed for as long as Suu Kyi then his party would surely be weakened and disintegrate to the point of not being salvageable. And that would be the end of his party and his political career. No one, myself in particular, wants to see this scenario happen.

Now, let's look at a positive scenario. If the offer is accepted and Rainsy is imprisoned and he is released immediately after the international outcry, then Rainsy and his party can claim to have won a moral victory over evil. If this scenario occurred, Rainsy and his party surely has achieved public and voters' sympathy that would translate to increased electoral chances for the upcoming election. And Rainsy would be hailed a hero upon releasing from jail.

But one has to admit that Rainsy is dealing with a brutally undemocratic regime that is facing electoral defeat in the upcoming election. It will take any opportunity to sabotage Rainsy's chances of an electoral victory. And the ruling Cambodian People's Party, especially Mr. Hun Sen, would see Rainsy's offer of going to jail on behalf of Mr. Dam Sith as a great opportunity to thwart Rainsy's chances.

Lastly, I wish that this defamation suit would be resolved in a civilised manner, with Dam Sith and Rainsy exonerated unharmed.

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Cambodia Intimidates Media, Opposition Before Vote, Groups Say

Cambodia Intimidates Media, Opposition Before Vote, Groups Say

Bloomberg.com: Asia
By Michael Heath

June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Cambodia's government, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, is using the justice system to intimidate journalists and the opposition before next month's general elections, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

Dam Sith, a candidate of the Sam Rainsy Party and editor of the Khmer Conscience newspaper, was arrested for questioning the role of Hor Namhong, the foreign minister, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge movement, the groups said in a statement.

The arrest ``demonstrates how the criminal justice system is used and abused to silence government critics,'' said Brittis Edman, a researcher at London-based Amnesty. It ``sends a message of fear to journalists and other media workers in the lead-up to national elections.''

The ruling Cambodian People's Party will repeat its victory of 2003 when elections are held July 27 in the South Asian country of 14 million people, Hun Sen said earlier this week. Sam Rainsy spent a year in exile in France from February 2005, during which he was jailed for 18 months in absentia for defaming the prime minister.

Cambodia's economy expanded 9.6 percent in 2007, after growing by at least 10 percent during the previous three years, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

Hun Sen wants to develop oil and mineral resources to attract international investment and reduce Cambodia's dependence on clothing exports and tourism for growth. About a third of the population live on less than 50 cents a day and 90 percent live in rural areas.

Intimidation Pattern

Dam Sith's arrest is part of a pattern of intimidation against the opposition and independent media in the run-up to the election, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

On May 21, Hun Sen threatened the independent Beehive radio station after it broadcast programming from opposition parties, according to the groups. A week later, independent radio station Angkor Ratha had its license, issued less than six months earlier, revoked after it sold air time to opposition parties, the groups said.

Hun Sen said his party may win two-thirds of seats in the 123-member parliament, the Mekong Times reported yesterday.

The party will probably win at least 81 seats, up from 73, and receive 73 percent of the vote versus 64 percent in the 2003 election, the Phnom Penh-based English-language daily cited him as saying. The Sam Rainsy Party won 24 seats in the last ballot.

Hun Sen formed a coalition government in July 2004 with the royalist Funcinpec party, which won 26 seats in 2003.

Opposition Members

Dam Sith, who is running for election in Phnom Penh, was arrested as Hun Sen's CPP presses opposition members to join the party and punishes those who refuse, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

In March, police detained local Sam Rainsy Party leader Tuot Saron in Kampong Thom. Tuot Saron is still in detention and faces charges of illegal confinement after seeking to assist a former party colleague following her alleged defection to the CPP, according to the groups.

The court issued arrest warrants against three other local Sam Rainsy Party leaders, who are in hiding after avoiding arrest, the groups said.

Cambodia's attention has been focused on five former leaders of the Khmer Rouge who are facing trial this year at a United Nations-backed genocide tribunal for crimes allegedly committed during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

The Khmer Rouge forced the population out of cities as it tried to establish an agrarian state, killing an estimated 1.7 million people through starvation, disease or execution.

The regime was ousted when Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, plunging the country into civil war. Most fighting stopped after the 1991 Paris Peace Accords that called for a cease-fire and democratic elections, which were held in 1993.

Penal Code

Two years after the elections, Cambodia passed a Press Law that provides some protection to journalists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty said. It's rarely used. Instead, the so-called 1992 UNTAC Law, Cambodia's current penal code, is used in most legal cases against journalists or media representatives.

``There's little room for critical or opposition journalists in Cambodia, and those who express dissent risk harassment, intimidation and, at times, imprisonment,'' Sara Colm, senior researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

Dam Sith has been charged with violating articles 62 and 63 of the UNTAC Law. His newspaper, Khmer Conscience, is one of the few in Cambodia that is not affiliated with the government or the CPP, which controls all television and most radio stations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net.

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Map and Pictures of Preah Vihear

by Bora Touchg

Please find attached various (official) maps of the Preah Vihear temple; they are of 1:10,000; 1:50,000, 1:100,000 and 1:200,000 scales.

The issue of the demilitation of boundary was legally and clearly resolved by the International court of justice in 1962 and the French-Siam Commission in 1907. In other words, there is or should be no dispute or uncertainty regarding the delimitation of the Siam-Khmer boundary, esp. the boundary around the Preah Vihear temple. The only remaining issue/thing for the two states to do is demarcating/fencing the border, which is a simple technical thing to do.

According to the recent media reports, the Royal Government of Cambodia has revised the boundary map of the temple and re-submitted it to UNESCO and Thai party. What this "revising map" means, in term of the effect on sovereignty , remains to be seen. The new revised map and explanation has not been published at the Khmer National Authority of Preah Vihear Temple website.

Apparently, the Royal Government has not made use of the 1962 Aide Memoir of 1962 of the then royal government of HRH N. Sihanouk which provides precise thoughts (and strategies) on the temple boundary and its history.

I would be pleased to provide legal thoughts on the revised map and its implications shall I have a copy of it.

Bora Touch Esq


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Anniversary of Preah Vihear ruling to be held at in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 12 (Xinhua) -- The Khmer Civilization Support Association (KCSA) has announced its celebration of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s 1962 ruling that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia rather than Thailand, will be held Sunday at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, local newspaper the Mekong Times reported Thursday.

"The ceremony is being held in gratitude to our Cambodian ancestors who built Preah Vihear," said the KCSA statement, adding that it was also dedicated to former King Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodian head of state when the ICJ ruling was made.

The ceremony is also being held to thank the Cambodian government for maintaining sovereignty and integrity until the temple is registered as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site list, said the KSCA.

The UN body will discuss the temple's listing at talks to be held early next month in Quebec.

The KSCA announcement comes as the Thai government studies in detail a new drawing of the temple grounds that Cambodia submitted last week.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungwat told The Bangkok Post Wednesday that further talks between Thai and Cambodian officials are needed because the Cambodian map of the area slightly differs from the border map used by Thailand, the Mekong Times said.

Pai Siphan, spokesman for the Cambodian Council of Ministers, said Wednesday that the term "map" as opposed to "drawing" was causing confusion.

"We use the word drawing, as it was a drawing submitted to UNESCO and Thailand. We have sent the drawing to the Thai side and they approved it," he said.

He added that, according to Cambodian law, the legal premises of each temple are adjudged to be 30 meters starting from the base of its outer buildings.

"Currently Preah Vihear temple fences are too near the gate of the temple, which indicates that Thailand has moved its border markers into Cambodian territory," said the spokesman.


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Journalists and Opposition Members Under Attack as Elections Near

For Immediate Release

Cambodia: Release Jailed Editor
Journalists and Opposition Members Under Attack as Elections Near

(London, June 11, 2008) – The Cambodian government should release a jailed opposition newspaper editor and candidate, and end its intimidation of journalists and opposition party candidates in the lead-up to National Assembly elections in July, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

On June 8, military police arrested newspaper editor Dam Sith, 39, who is also running as a candidate for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), after his newspaper published allegations about the current foreign minister.

“Dam Sith’s arrest demonstrates how the criminal justice system is used and abused to silence government critics,” said Brittis Edman, researcher for Amnesty International. “His arrest sends a message of fear to journalists and other media workers in the lead-up to national elections next month.”

Dam Sith’s newspaper, Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), quoted allegations by opposition leader Sam Rainsy over the role of the current minister of foreign affairs, Hor Namhong, during the period of Khmer Rouge rule from 1975-1979. Hor Namhong filed a criminal complaint against Dam Sith for disinformation, defamation and libel under Cambodia’s 1992 penal code. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International believe that public officials who consider themselves defamed should not seek redress through the criminal law in order to protect their reputation.

Moneaksekar Khmer is one of the few newspapers in Cambodia that is not affiliated with the government or the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which also controls all television and most radio stations.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said that the arrest of Dam Sith is part of a pattern of intimidation by the government against opposition and independent media in the run-up to the July elections. On May 21, Hun Sen threatened the independent Beehive radio station for running programming from opposition parties, stating: “You have one channel; we have 39 channels. If you curse me, you will receive bad merit. Those who [previously] cursed me already disappeared from the world.”

On May 28, the government shut down independent radio station Angkor Ratha (FM 105.25) in Kratie province. The station, whose headquarters is in Siem Reap province, was granted a license to broadcast in January 2008. The Ministry of Information abruptly cancelled the license for the station’s Kratie broadcasts after it sold air time to opposition parties.

“There’s little room for critical or opposition journalists in Cambodia, and those who express dissent risk harassment, intimidation and, at times, imprisonment,” said Sara Colm, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian authorities to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression, allowing journalists to report news and express opinions about politics without retribution.

Dam Sith, who is running as an opposition candidate in the capital Phnom Penh, was arrested in the midst of an intense campaign by the ruling CPP to induce opposition members to join the CPP and punish those who refuse. In March 2008, police arrested and detained local opposition SRP leader Tuot Saron in Kampong Thom. Tuot Saron is still detained and faces charges of illegal confinement after seeking to assist a distressed former party colleague following her alleged defection to the CPP under controversial circumstances. The court issued arrest warrants against three other local SRP leaders, who avoided arrest and remain in hiding.

“Arrests and other politically motivated legal actions are being used to intimidate, coerce and silence opposition members and journalists,” said Colm. “With elections pending, it’s crucial that Cambodians are able to receive information from a variety of news sources, and that opposition candidates are able to campaign without fear of reprisals.”

The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Cambodian Constitution and enshrined in international human rights law. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Cambodia is obliged to promote and protect these rights and ensure that people can fully enjoy them.

The 1995 Press Law provides for some protection of journalists, but is rarely used. Instead, the so-called 1992 UNTAC Law, Cambodia’s current penal code, is used in most legal cases against journalists or media representatives. These cases often violate the right to freedom of expression.

Dam Sith has been charged with violating articles 62 and 63 of the UNTAC Law. Article 62 criminalizes the publication, distribution or reproduction of false information that “has disturbed or is likely to disturb the public peace.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch consider the provision to be too vague and sweeping, enabling the government to intimidate and prosecute those who are exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Article 63 provides that allegations against public figures “which the author, the journalist, editor, or producer knows to be false” may constitute defamation. The article does not carry a custodial sentence. This article also restricts the right to freedom of expression in violation of international law and standards.

“It is time for Cambodia to repeal provisions in its laws that allow individuals, including journalists, to be criminally prosecuted for peaceful speech,” said Edman.

For more information, please contact:
In Phnom Penh, for Human Rights Watch, Sara Colm: +855-12-804-755 (mobile)
In London, for Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams: +44-79-0872-8333 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, for Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson: +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In London, for Amnesty International, Brittis Edman: +44-79-4692-4473; or +44- 20-7413-5773 (mobile)

For more: Human Rights Watch

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Journalist jailed on defamation, disinformation charges

CAMBODIA: Journalist jailed on defamation, disinformation charges

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

New York, June 10, 2008 — The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of Dam Sith, editor-in-chief of the opposition-aligned, Khmer-language daily newspaper Moneakseka Khmer.

Dam Sith was arrested on Sunday by plainclothes police at a car wash and interrogated for several hours at the national military police headquarters in the capital, Phnom Penh. A criminal court charged Dam Sith the same day with defamation and disinformation in connection with an April 18 article on a speech by opposition politician Sam Rainsy, according to a joint statement from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and the Cambodian League for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (LICADHO).

Segments of the published speech were highly critical of several government officials and raised questions about ministers’ past association with the Khmer Rouge government, a few members of which are now standing trial for genocide.

Dam Sith is currently being held at Prey Sar Prison in Phnom Penh. On Monday, authorities refused to allow family members and others to visit him, LICADHO told CPJ by e-mail.

The charges were filed by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who has also taken legal action against Rainsy in the past.

“Dam Sith should not be in prison simply for reporting on a politician’s remarks, and he should be released immediately. This imprisonment constitutes harassment of a journalist of whom the government does not approve,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

The Cambodian government recently abolished prison sentences for defamation and libel, penalties that were once used to harass journalists. But disinformation convictions still carry three-year jail terms, and officials have in recent months used the threat of those charges to intimidate journalists.

Dam Sith’s imprisonment comes in the run-up to general elections scheduled for this July, which the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minster Hun Sen is expected to win handily. Dam Sith, whose newspaper is one of only a handful in Cambodia that reports critically on the government, was a likely candidate to run for office under the opposition Sam Rainsy Party banner.

LICADHO noted that Dam Sith’s arrest comes after the Ministry of Information ordered the closing of provincial radio station Angkor Ratha FM105.25 soon after it leased airtime to four political parties to campaign for the election. The ministry had issued a license to the station in Kratie province on January 30. It gave no reason or legal justification for its cancellation on May 28, according to LICADHO.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hun Sen: ‘We cannot work without support’

Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Hun Sen: ‘We cannot work without support’

Prime Minister Hun Sen has led Cambodia for the last 23 years, becoming the longest-serving prime minister in Southeast Asia and, as deputy president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the CPP’s premiership candidate, he will continue to play a large role after July’s national elections.

In these translated excepts from an exclusive Khmer-language interview with Neth Pheaktra, editor-in-chief of The Mekong Times, the premier discussed the economy, development, corruption, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the upcoming election and his political goals.

On what do you base your predictions of a Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) victory in the July 27 parliamentary elections?

As far as my prediction on the success of the CPP in the election is concerned, a similar assessment has been made in both international and national circles. On what basis does the CPP expect to win the election? The CPP began building its support base in 1993 with the winning of 51 seats at the National Assembly [NA], then 64 seats in 1998 and 73 seats in 2003. This basis is the foundation of [the CPP’s] support when it faces difficulties. However, in the third mandate government, [Cambodia] achieved double-digit economic growth, poverty has been reduced, and people’s living conditions and the physical infrastructure has improved. These [achievements] will attract people in the upcoming election.

I do not think that the number of our [CPP] NA seats will be lower than 73 because of what we have achieved so far. In fact, we are not being overly ambitious. In the 2007 commune council election, we examined the number of ballot votes and calculated them against the number of parliamentarian seats – we would have won 90 seats [if it had been a parliamentary election]. However, the CPP’s target is only 81, with some constituencies we are determined to keep. In some [constituencies], we want to take seats. For example, in Kampot province, we had only four seats in the second mandate, but we lost one seat. Now, we just want to increase it to four seats, not five. In Prey Veng province, we lost one seat but that does not mean that we lost supporters; it is due to the fact … [voters ticked the wrong column. So we are] determined to take one seat back. For other provinces, we urged for an increase in the numbers [of NA seats under CPP control].

If we can achieve 81 seats or more, it would be good but the winning of 73 seats will allow us victory. The CPP’s victory was achieved in 1998 with the winning of 53 percent [of the votes]. So, it is not difficult to form a government as the “two thirds formula” has already been abandoned [in favor of “50 percent plus one”].

This is the basis … [of CPP’s rising percentage of the vote] from 51 to 64 and from 64 to [a predicted] 73. The [CPP support] base has grown along with the good performance of the CPP and government in providing support [direct aid] to people until we were banned by the [Election] law … [I]t could be said that the CPP provides [support] to people ‘like drizzle’. Thus the people trust us because they are sure of the benefits.

[The CPP also hopes to benefit from] … a big fracturing of the opposition parties. Funcinpec – which gained 26 NA seats [in 2003] – is divided into Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party [NRP]. So, [according to] political strategies or military tactics, neither Funcinpec nor the NRP have a chance to attack [the CPP].

The Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] is in a ‘bloody situation’ prior to the election. I do not want to criticize other parties, but competing for the number one position is not easy. However, politicians are always bragging about their planned victory. We must not [overlook] their chance [to win the election], but they also have to accept the CPP’s chances. We have to know our own resources clearly and the resources of newly-formed parties.

The attempt to form a royalist and democrat alliance has foundered. The division I mentioned earlier is due to the registration of parliamentary candidates and also I think because of competition for senior positions amongst opponents. They have no chance to marshal enough forces to attack the CPP. I regret that they said their alliance is aimed at defeating the CPP. They do not need to defeat the CPP – as it would [disappear] if they won the election. They are only able to talk; they cannot even defeat [their partners] … They compete for “opposition” status and cannot work together. I think it is better if they stay [separate].

I only mention three opposition parties – the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP], the Norodom Ranariddh Party [NRP] and the Human Rights Party [HRP] … I think that it is good if they cannot unite because, when they merge together, who will be the president? Problems could arise … [D]ivision amongst the opposition will be wider if the parties merge together. If we melt three glasses into one, when it breaks, the pieces will be larger.

[I]n 1998, when Funcinpec and the SRP formed an alliance to oppose the government … after the alliance broke, conflict between them was bigger. In 2003, they again formed an alliance to oppose the CPP and me. However, when it broke up, their conflict was bigger [than in 1998], with Prince Norodom Ranariddh filing a lawsuit against Sam Rainsy. It was I who asked for Sam Rainsy’s pardon …

International factors also favor the CPP in the election. In 1993 how many countries supported the CPP? In 1998, how many supported and opposed the CPP? In 2003, we still saw a little foreign hostility towards us. However, in 2008, those countries did not just support the CPP, but are now cooperative partners with the government. In the second mandate, I introduced a triangular strategy with ‘an angle’ to integrate Cambodia into the region and the world. We have to date been involved in a framework of full cooperation, including UN operations. We have sent troops to Sudan [to clear mines] and Mongolia and Bangladesh to join military training …

In the past, Cambodia had both enemies and friends, but now Cambodia has only friends in the world.

To form a government, a political party must have 50 percent plus one of the NA seats. If the CPP wins a majority, will there be any partners in government?

It is a no to new partners. There is a possibility of an old partner. I would like to strongly reiterate what I have said on radio and television: that the CPP cannot partner with the SRP … [We] have two simple reasons; firstly, because of the 50 percent plus one formula, we do not need other parties; secondly, domestic and international policies are widely different [between the two parties]. Because the political gap is too wide, we cannot work together. They [the SRP] always oppose us whenever we propose any plan. So, it means that after the election we cannot work together …

As for Funcinpec, I think that a coalition might happen. But according to our Constitution, the prime minister can only form a new government with members from other parties which have won NA seats. If the party has no seats at the NA, the party’s officials can only be appointed as under secretaries of state or government advisors. If we allow them into government, we are breaking the Constitution. I can confirm that we could see new forces from the SRP. We have appointed SRP officials as under secretaries of state and government advisors, and will promote the officials to secretaries of state or include them [in government] following the election. Funcinpec officials who have already defected to the CPP and were appointed as ministers, secretaries of state or under secretaries of state can keep their positions.

My language is easy to understand – namely ‘keeping the old and adding the new’ … As you have seen, the CPP has a lot of human resources, but it still needs other resources. However, if the whole opposition [SRP] party wants to merge with the CPP, we cannot accept it because the political gap is too wide.

The delay in adopting the long-awaited anti-corruption law has been criticized by civil society, with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights collecting over one million thumbprints in protest. Is the government doing enough to combat corruption?

I would like to reiterate that the government does not wish to delay the approval of the anti-corruption bill. But we must prioritize. I have explained to other people that we are delaying the law’s adoption because we want to speed up the approval of [French-backed] penal code.

Do you believe that these thumbprints are real? I accept there has been some thumbprint [collection], but this NGO [the Cambodian Center for Human Rights] dares not reveal who has made the thumbprints because it fears there would be something amiss uncovered with its leader and others. This is because the public was allowed to anonymously put [their written allegations of corruption] into a letterbox created by the center. Do you think when they collected these one million thumbprints they explained [why] to people? Even one million marbles are difficult to count, but one million people – that’s ridiculous. One million thumbprints are not difficult to come by – one person can produce 100 or 200 or 400 or 500 thumbprints. … [Perhaps] some of those who thumbprinted the appeal thought it was an appeal for aid.

I don’t know how these thumbprints were produced, but I know that allegations of corruption are not new in Cambodia. In any country, when any person is to be toppled, corruption allegations are used. You can see in neighboring Thailand. They accused Thaksin Shinawatra of committing corruption and then carried out a coup to overthrow him. Military officials also filed a lawsuit, asking for permission to dissolve Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party and ban 111 politicians from engaging in politics. However, because Samak Sundaravej formed the People’s Power Party and used the name of Thaksin [during the election campaign, he] … won the election.

The CPP government does not pay lesser attention to corruption … Previously, before investors could obtain permission to run their businesses, they had to spend a lot of time filling in forms for one office or another. After our reforms — do the investors still complain about the delays and ‘under-the-table’ charges with trade registration mentioned during the Government-Private Sector Forum in 1999? No such complaints were heard at the latest forum …

[We] have introduced a “One Stop Service” where we have tried to reduce corruption through the establishment of a workplace where customs officials, Camcontrol officials, and border police are put under one roof. So, though [we have yet to pass] the law on corruption … we have reduced corruption.

In addition, though we have stopped large-scale commercial logging in the past several years, we accept that some illegal logging activities still persist. However, the large-scale logging and the transportation of logs, which resulted in bridge collapses between 1993 and 1998, no longer exists. This shows how we are involved in the fight against corruption. In our reform of fishing lots, the people have been allowed control over 56 percent [of fishing lots] covering more than half-a-million hectares of lakes, to reduce corruption. Existing laws were made with the inclusion of penalties so we do not need to wait for the anti-corruption law … for example; if you encroach on other people’s land, we will use the Land Law, and if you log the forest, the Forestry Law will be used. If you fish illegally, we will use the Fishery Law.

I think that those who want to attack the government over corruption might not be able to do so, as they are committing corruption in a larger form. They commit corruption even though they have yet to gain power. The government never ignores the fight against corruption.

The relationship between the government and international human rights organizations seems to be difficult. Why? What must be done to change Cambodia’s reputation?

It is very clear that a controversy has broken out, most seriously when [Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights in Cambodia] Yash Ghai was here. It is easy to understand that we cannot cooperate together as he said things that were contrary to the facts. I do not need to elaborate. If he speaks the truth, I will welcome his cooperation, but if he continues saying things contrary to the facts, I will not cooperate. I did not expel him. He can visit whenever he wants. I do not need his praise, I do not need his criticism, and I ask him only to speak the truth. If he does not speak the truth and he sees us as enemies, why must we cooperate with him? [I] ask him to work with anyone he can. Please go ahead! I am not stopping [him].

As for me, I can play around with a dog or with other animals, but I do not play with a person who has reason and yet acts like an animal. Saying so is serious, but they [international human rights organizations] seem to us to be animals, and fierce animals at that. I would like to stress again that my most easy-to-understand objection is that they violate the facts and accuse us unjustly. This is why the controversy broke out. I just ask them to do what they can — speak the truth. I do not ask for praise but I also do not want to be unfairly demeaned.

I appeal for the truth. If they say they made a mistake, it will be easy for me to correct them … What should I do? For instance, concerning the Tum Ring rubber plantation measuring thousands of hectares, they [NGO Global Witness] said that Tum Ring has not a single rubber tree. This example alone is enough for me to know I don’t need to work with [Global Witness] because this is not how human beings behave. Tum Ring does not have a single tree, but rather has millions of trees …

I am busy with my work and do not have anything to discuss with such people. If Cambodia does not have this type of people, it’s like the old saying: “If a cock does not crow, the sun will still surely rise.” Human rights groups were not here when we liberated the country from the Pol Pot regime and provided rights and freedom for people. So, 29 years ago in Cambodia, we fulfilled our obligations. What are the important rights? The right to life is the first and foremost and the most important. Where were those people then? The right to receive food, the right to receive education, and the right to [free] speech – all these rights existed before. Yash Ghai had not yet arrived to preach, yet we had already provided these rights.

Will the government grant funds for the financially beleaguered Khmer Rouge Tribunal?

I think that the United Nations and some countries are causing other countries to lose confidence in the trials. Previously, they forced us to deal with the issue … though in 1979 I already sentenced [the Khmer Rouge leadership]. Regarding the Paris Peace Accords, I negotiated for a long time about the Khmer Rouge Trial, but other countries did not agree. When the Khmer Rouge weakened, their political organization and military were dissolved, and were all integrated. They [the Khmer Rouge defectors] imposed restrictions on us day after day when we were negotiating with the UN.

The negotiations [for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or Khmer Rouge Tribunal] were made with a pledge to grant funds. We also made great efforts to do the work within the means of our meager budget, and [we had to allocate] part of that money for the cost of water and electricity, accommodation and security. It is not cheap – the court uses a lot of money.

Now we hear of delays! I think that the process can work quicker, but I have no right to set the procedures of the court or push the court to do this or that. I don’t have any rights concerning this issue. But regarding Cambodia’s possibility to provide additional budget, my answer is that, if [I offer money], it will be a small amount because I need to build bridges, roads and canals for the people. I call on the UN and those who promised to provide money. Any failure of the court due to budget shortages is not Cambodia’s responsibility.

Cambodia is often depicted in the media as reliant on aid for survival and as a country which has done little to alleviate poverty since 1993. What is your view of such an appraisal?

First of all, we have to see the achievements that have been made as ‘starting from empty hands’. How has Cambodia progressed? In the last four years, double-digit economic growth has been a miracle only China could duplicate. Can we say that our governance is not good when it provided the opportunity for double-digit economic growth? National annual revenues have increased nearly 23 percent. Would such an increase be possible without good governance? If everything was bad, maybe Cambodia would be in a similar situation to Myanmar which receives almost no humanitarian assistance or financial assistance, besides that provided by China, India and other countries with a close relationship …

But for Cambodia, you can see that the IMF decided to cancel debt worth US$82 million. What is the reason? The IMF thoroughly examines evidence. What has Cambodia achieved? Why did [the IMF] eliminate the debt, transferring the money for canal construction? … The World Bank [WB] and the Asian Development Bank [ADB] still offer financing and assistance. I would like to explain why.

The IMF left Cambodia in 1996-1997 as, at the time, Cambodia did not follow the codes of conduct we had agreed with the IMF. But now the IMF has returned to work in Cambodia in the second and third mandates, and during the third mandate, it canceled debt worth US$82 million …

[The] ADB and the WB provide loans [only if a country’s] classification is good. If they think we cannot repay them, they would not allow us to borrow.

Previously Japan was hesitant in providing loans to Cambodia but now it allows us to borrow. The former [Japanese] deputy minister of finance and former minister of foreign affairs told me that [Cambodia] should borrow money from Japan … At the time, I reminded [the Japanese] that Japan had previously been afraid Cambodia could not repay loans, but they immediately said that Cambodia is able to repay …

Go and ask the IMF why it eliminated Cambodia’s debt. Go and ask the WB and the ADB why they granted aid and loans … [I]f we did not govern well and deal with labor issues fairly, perhaps the US would not buy clothing from Cambodia. But perhaps Cambodia is mostly on the right track. We did not eliminate all deficiencies – if people do not recognize deficiencies and say that everything is good, they are quick to fall. I recognize deficiencies so, regarding the rectangular strategy we recently reviewed, we admit there are many points that must be improved in future. That is not the end.

I stated that, if we continue reforms, we have a 99 percent chance of survival [success] and a one percent of death [failure]. But if we do not reform, we have a 99 percent chance of death [failure] and a one percent chance of survival [success]. Therefore, we must encourage reform.

Cambodia is a member of both Asean and the World Trade Organization [WTO] but Cambodian exports are not that competitive. What will the government do to raise Cambodia’s game?

If we examine the issues of competition within the framework of trade which receives preference from the WTO, we are still weak. Our weakness is that we are a new member. Our production base and markets can be compared to old members or new members, but their goods sources are stronger, for example, another new member, Vietnam. [Some] new members … are more like old members because their production base is better than ours. They only recently obtained membership, but they have a better production base. We are one of the old members, but our production base does not match other countries, except in textile production. Thus we can be considered fairly competitive.

Regarding agriculture, perhaps Cambodia still has much potential. The food crisis in global markets created a big opportunity for Cambodia and its farmers. The lifting of the ban on rice exports is Cambodia’s gesture to fulfill its obligation to assist countries facing problems related to food prices and food shortages. It also shows Cambodia’s preparedness to compete and open markets in other countries facing food crises. I told the commerce minister that, when exporting rice to Senegal, we must find other African countries that can export [rice to countries such as Senegal]. But in some places, we [cannot compete]. For instance, if we compare the quality of our rice with Thai and Vietnamese rice, their rice is better quality. We cannot win that competition …

I think that such achievements are sufficient if we consider our start from scratch. How much did Cambodia export before? Even until 1994, our exports totaled about US$200 million. Textile exports totaled only US$4 million. But textile exports in 2007 totaled US$2.9 billion … and our total exports reached over US$4 billion. Our scope of exports is very big for a small country. Laos exported less than US$1 billion even though it has developed without the disasters that have befallen Cambodia. But the scope of Cambodia’s exports is not yet enough. We need to achieve bigger exports through the strengthening of our economy.

Some opposition politicians have criticized you over alleged loss of territory to neighboring countries. What is your response?

First of all, I should reitierate that in Cambodia and Thailand, if any person is to be toppled, that person will be charged with corruption. Cambodia has only two stories. If anyone wants to be opposed, then that person will be charged with corruption and border irregularities. It is not unusual. General Lon Nol and his clique conducted a coup against Samdech Norodom Sihanouk and sentenced him using these two kinds of allegation – firstly corruption and secondly selling land to Vietnam. Regarding border issues, [famous Cambodian singer] Sin Sisamuth’s song relating to border issues was broadcast on TV with a map shown. If they [the opposition] want to oppose anyone, they use three main allegations – corruption, border issues and immigration. You can wait and see that whenever anyone comes to power, they [the political opposition] will use these three issues to oppose that person. If the CPP became the opposition party, it would not raise these allegations it knows so well.

I am a man of the younger generation born in 1952. The French National Assembly ceded Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam in 1949. Now, I am accused of losing Kampuchea Krom territory. How can people accuse me of that? Particularly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s groups alleged that I adopted the Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty when the prince was the president of the National Assembly. In fact, the prince’s grandparents and father with surnames of Norodom and Sisowath were the rulers at that time. This issue did not happen during Hun Sen’s era, it occurred in the regime of the Kingdom of Cambodia [constitutional monarchy under King Norodom Sihanouk] and during the French colonial times. More regrettably, at the time, the Cambodian delegation abstained. Please, research the documents. Why say that I am the one who lost [this territory]? I just take responsibility for the territory left by the French colonists, according to the decisions of France’s Indochinese General Governor and the map that Samdech Norodom Sihanouk kept at the UN.

It is a pity that some politicians allege Cambodia loses 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters or more of territory each day. The people residing along borders express surprise … This is a very big strategic mistake. Why? The people living along borders farm land and build houses near borders … [T]he CPP wins all the votes of those people living in communes near borders. Why? Because opposition politicians look down [on border residents]. If kilometers [of Cambodian territory] are lost along the borders everyday, where do those residents live? On Thai, Lao, Vietnamese or Cambodian soil? Clearly, they still live in Cambodian territory. They are Cambodian nationals. Therefore, looking down on people living along the border is enough for them [opposition politicians] to lose.

I do not need to correct them. Do they fool border residents? They cannot. They try to fool ‘insiders’ [people living far from the borders], but they cannot because ‘insiders’ have siblings living near borders and people can now communicate by phone where previously, there were no telephone connections … This is the tactical or strategic mistake of those [opposition] politicians.

You were one of the youngest democratically elected prime ministers and the prime minister who has served longest in Southeast Asia. What does the future hold for Hun Sen?

I was the youngest prime minister in the past, but now maybe I am one of the oldest prime ministers at present, because prime ministers and presidents in some countries are only 30 to 40 years old, and I am over 50 years old …

What is my political goal? In fact, to be prime minister is very tiring. But we must tolerate the fatigue to seek the people’s happiness. If the CPP did not back me, people would not vote for the CPP. The CPP uses the name of Hun Sen to campaign, saying that, if the CPP wins elections, Hun Sen will be prime minister. It clearly means that, if you like Hun Sen, please vote for the CPP. I must continue to shoulder burdens to seek happiness for [Cambodian] people and meet the people’s requests. If people do not vote [for the CPP], it means that they do not need us – we don’t need to make further efforts. We will leave without any regrets …

If we listen to the voice of opposition groups, their voice is really fierce and frightening. If they are promoted to the position of prime minister, what will they do? For example, confiscating properties from the rich to distribute to the poor, and the cancellation of foreign contracts – how much turmoil will be caused? In Zimbabwe, after [President Robert] Mugabe caused chaos the results of the first election were invalid. And during the second election an opposition candidate was arrested. How could we allow a country that has just achieved peace to plunge into such a situation? …

I have announced that I will continue to stand as premiership candidate until the people no longer need me. To make it clear, [we] do not need to set a maximum term [for prime minister] because no government dictates [maximum prime ministerial] terms. Setting a maximum term could occur in a presidential regime; for example, in the US and in France. However, no country has set a maximum term for prime ministers.

Why do they [opposition politicians] request a maximum prime minister’s term? It could be that they are afraid of me, Hun Sen. If the present prime minister was not Hun Sen, they might not make such a proposal. If [the leader is] weak, they keep the leader in the place so that they will find it easy to defeat them. They never request a weak leader to step down, because they can [easily] attack such a leader. So, these people [who suggest a maximum term] should admit they are unable to defeat Hun Sen if Hun Sen stands [as premiership candidate] …

On the other hand, we can see the [CPP is] developing human resources. We have assigned young officials to [positions in] the party and in state institutions because we know the current officials will not live to be 500-years-old. I do not have the longevity to serve as prime minister until I turn 90 or 100. However, I am able to work as prime minister until they [political opposition figures] become old and have no power to compete … Thus, I would like to announce that I will stand as the premiership candidate until the people no longer need me.

However, we also consider the possibility of resigning if many mistakes are made or if we are not able to carry out reform. In such a situation, we should [resign] and transfer power to other people so that they can improve the situation. I will not resist [any such demands for my resignation] … I want to stress that we cannot work without support.

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