Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Cambodia Economists Predicts Slower Economic Growth
July 02, 2008

PHNOM PENH, July 2 (Bernama) -- The Cambodian Economic Institute has predicted that the country's economic growth will slow down due to inflation and stagnation of real estate transactions.

Both the factors will drag Cambodia's leg of the economy and is expected to cause more problems hence after, China's Xinhua news agency quoted the institute experts, as saying at a month-seminar on domestic economic situation.

According to official statistics, general commodity price of Cambodia has increased by some 66 percent since the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, most real estate projects and transactions are on hiatus due to political calculation of the ongoing general election.

The Cambodian government and international financial institutions once estimated that the economic growth rate of Cambodia will reach seven to nine percent in 2008.

The economic growth rate of Cambodia stood at double digits during the past three years due to strong exports of garments and a booming market of infrastructure construction.


The Culture Of Violence

Can Anyone Destroy The Legacy Of Pol Pot?

By Ron Moreau NEWSWEEK
May 4, 1998 Issue

SOCHUA MU MAKES HOUSE CALLS. AS a leading opposition politician, she visits the terrorized widows of party officials who have been murdered since last July, when Second Prime Minister Hun Sen violently grabbed power. Mu can't meet all the widows: human-rights investigators suspect that some 100 of Hun Sen's opponents have been murdered since the coup. But she does what she can, helping one survivor flee the country, comforting a 12-year-old girl whose father was gunned down before her eyes. Most recently, Mu counseled a woman whose husband was shot to death as he was walking home from a party meeting. As he lay dying he described his killers in detail, but the men he identified walk by his house daily, taunting his widow. ""There is no justice in Cambodia,'' says Mu, 44. ""Men with guns rule.''

Pol Pot is dead, and his Khmer Rouge movement is collapsing--but that doesn't mean peace is coming to one of the most heavily armed countries on earth. Even the few remaining gangs of Pol Pot's former comrades can still kill; last week about 50 suspected guerrillas, some wearing masks, attacked a fishing village on Tonle Sap lake just north of Phnom Penh, killing 23 ethnic Vietnamese men, women and children. But the Khmer Rouge remnants are only minor contributors to Cambodia's larger culture of violence. Political debates are increasingly settled by gunfire. The mayhem is likely to increase as Cambodia approaches elections in late July. And even the costs of political violence are small as measured against the death toll produced by renegade government security forces and gangs of heavily armed punks out to make a quick buck.

Nobody can quantify the national plague of murder, rape and robbery. According to human-rights workers, every year hundreds of Cambodians across the country are killed, wounded, kidnapped, tortured and unlawfully imprisoned by soldiers, police and officials who are lusting after power, money, land and cattle. Gunmen working for syndicates dealing in gambling, prostitution, illegal logging and drug smuggling take their toll as well. Not even foreigners are immune. Last week a young French journalist was robbed by two government soldiers waving AK-47 assault rifles as she traveled along a central Cambodian highway. Then that night she was relieved of her purse and cell phone by a young gunman who stepped out of the shadows of Phnom Penh's Royal Palace.

At the top, Hun Sen's government relies on violence to survive. The United Nations' Center for Human Rights in Phnom Penh has documented 41 cases of extrajudicial killings and executions and 13 disappearances, all believed to have been carried out by forces loyal to Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in July and August. Investigators are also looking into the deaths since last September of an additional 50 opposition activists. Most victims had ties to the party of First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh, the leader ousted by Hun Sen. But other opposition parties have not been spared. Last January, a schoolteacher who was active in former Finance minister Sam Rainsy's political party was gunned down along with his 4-year-old daughter. ""Pol Pot's twisted philosophy and practices still prevail in Cambodia,'' says Rainsy. ""We live in a communist-style state which uses the military, police, militia and spies to threaten and control people.''

In a country inundated with guns and brutalized by a violent past, how much of the violence results from criminal behavior is impossible to know. ""Clearly, widespread political intimidation is going on,'' says a Western diplomat. ""But the hard-pressed and paranoid opposition may be exaggerating the extent of the violence. To them anything that happens is political when a killing could be the result of a land dispute or love triangle.'' Indeed, some of what appears to be political violence could simply be the result of Cambodians' inability to work out their personal problems peacefully in a society where violence has been commonplace for a generation.

Hun Sen, who is known to have a hair-trigger temper, tells foreign diplomats that he is discouraging political violence. He is largely keeping to himself while observing a monthlong mourning period for his mother, who died in March. Still, he says he is meeting daily with local CPP officials to spread the message that they should not intimidate the opposition in the run-up to the election. ""He says he is telling his people that for the CPP's victory to be recognized internationally, they can't go too far,'' says a Western diplomat. ""It's better to lose a good election, he says, than to win a bad one.'' The sentiment is admirable. But Cambodians will take it seriously when they see their leader begin to arrest, prosecute and imprison the gunmen who are destroying their lives.

Can Cambodia Be Saved?

Pol Pot's Reign Of Terror Was A Terrible Period In The Country's History. But His End Doesn't Begin To Solve Its Problems.

By William Shawcross NEWSWEEK
Jun 30, 1997 Issue

Cambodia Khmer Rouge
Now, the group that was born in the jungle, and spent most of its 40-odd years of life in the jungle, is dying in the jungle. Of course, it's wise to be cautious when assessing the stories of Pol Pot's demise. Nothing in Cambodia is ever certain. Politics, especially revolutionary politics, is always shrouded in lies, feints and subterfuge. Last summer Pol Pot was reliably reported to be dead from malaria. He did not die then, and he may not be handed over for trial now.

But it's clear that the brutal communist movement has been losing strength and splitting apart for years. In 1996 a large faction under the control of Pol Pot's comrade and former foreign minister Ieng Sary defected en masse to the government in Phnom Penh. ""This time it really does look like the end,'' says Steve Heder, one of the world's leading experts on the Khmer Rouge.

It is easy to demonize Pol Pot and to say that all the evil of the Khmer Rouge is embodied in him. In fact, like all communist movements, the Khmer Rouge was a collective organization, and there are at least hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who share responsibility for appalling crimes. Nonetheless, Pol Pot was known as Brother No. 1, and without him, the Khmer Rouge would not have existed or behaved as they did.

Almost nothing was known of their leaders, their ideology or their ambitions when in April 1975 they defeated the American-backed government and marched into Phnom Penh. Their first astonishing act - emptying Phnom Penh and all other towns at once and at gunpoint - confirmed them as perhaps the most radical and brutal revolutionaries of the century. Over the next three years they attempted to transform Cambodia into a ""pure'' agricultural communist society, utterly cut off from the rest of the world.

Refugees told of a land of blood and tears, of unremitting toil in vast work camps, of no food, no medical care. They said that anyone with glasses risked death as ""an intellectual''; so did anyone suspected of even modest wealth, let alone ties with the old regime. Family life was subsumed into collectives; children were ordered to inform on their parents. Between 1 million and 2 million people died.

And for what reason, to what end? Few knew. Those acquainted with Pol Pot describe him as a mild and even charming man in person. He is calmly persuasive rather than demagogic, they say. Yet there is little doubt that this rather unremarkable man from a wealthy Cambodian farming family authorized much if not all of the terror that engulfed the country and spilled across the border into Vietnam. He is (one hopes) the last of the awful 20th-century dictators whose fantastic bloodshed was inspired by the teachings of Karl Marx. Lenin - Stalin - Mao - Pol Pot. With luck, the line ends here.

It's not yet clear whether Pol Pot will actually have to answer for his crimes in court. A trial would be a desperately needed antidote to the culture of impunity that has developed. And it would help establish the real chain of responsibility for one of the great crimes of the century.

But Pol Pot and the tatters of the Khmer Rouge are not the real crisis facing Cambodia today. The country is without effective leadership; the coalition government established after the U.N.-sponsored 1993 election has wholly fallen apart. The U.N. sowed the seeds of a civil society, and there are still courageous human-rights groups, women's groups, journalists and a few politicians. But the government is increasingly corrupt and lawless. Now, with the factions of the two prime ministers, Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, fighting each other in street gun battles, many diplomats in Phnom Penh fear that the political violence will increase, especially as next year's elections approach. Already, Prince Ranariddh and his associates are warning that Hun Sen will use his party's control of local administrations throughout the country to intimidate electors and corrupt the whole process. Ranariddh is seeking to strengthen his own position by dealing with the rump of the ""respectable'' Khmer Rouge, after Pol Pot has presumably been removed.

Before last week's street battle and the capture of Pol Pot, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was due to visit Phnom Penh. She has already expressed concern for the country's stability. If she actually makes the trip, what she sees and hears will give her further grounds for anxiety. The world must re-engage. Without much more pressure from donor nations - the United States, Japan and the European community contribute about half of Cambodia's annual budget - the country will continue its downward spiral. Pol Pot may be gone. But the real crisis continues.

SHAWCROSS, a journalist, is author of "The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, the Holocaust and the Modern Conscience.

Former Khmer Rouge appeals detention

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, center, stands in the dock as judges come into the courtroom for a hearing Monday, June 30, 2008, at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ieng Sary appeared before Cambodia's genocide tribunal Monday to press for his release from pretrial detention. (AP Photo/Nguyen Tan Kiet, POOL)


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Lawyers defending a former Khmer Rouge foreign minister argued Wednesday that a 12-year-old royal pardon exempts him from prosecution by Cambodia's genocide tribunal.

In a rebuttal, the prosecution said the pardon was improper and should be scrapped.

The United Nations-assisted court has charged Ieng Sary, 82, with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Wednesday marked the third day of a hearing on his appeal from release from pretrial detention, with proceedings to continue Thursday.

Ieng Sary is one of five former senior Khmer Rouge officials being held by the tribunal, which is attempting to establish accountability for an estimated 1.7 million deaths under the communist group's rule from 1975 to 1979.

Mounting a fresh challenge against the prosecution, Ieng Sary's defense team used the appeals hearing to urge the chamber to consider the pardon granted by former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in 1996.

Ieng Sary was condemned to death by a tribunal under a communist government that was installed in Cambodia by Vietnamese troops after they toppled the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. The tribunal was a show trial, with no real effort to present a defense.

The king pardoned him as a reward for leading some Khmer Rouge to break away from the movement and join the government, a move that foreshadowed the group's collapse in 1999 and brought an end to the civil war.

"When you look at Ieng Sary today, in spite of the past history, the royal decree ... was not given lightly. They (the government and former king) recognize him as an agent of peace, as someone who would be able to stop the war, and that's why it was granted," said Michael Karnavas, an American defense lawyer.

Prosecutors must "prove that there is a well-founded reason that the royal pardon and amnesty shall not be upheld," said Ang Udom, Ieng Sary's Cambodian lawyer.

He said the defendant should be released "immediately and without conditions" if the pretrial chamber recognizes the pardon.

Prosecutor Yet Chakriya asked the court to nullify the pardon since under Cambodian law convicts must serve two-thirds of their sentences before pardons can be granted.

But Ieng Sary "has never served his sentence, not even a single day," said Yet Chakriya, urging the court "to stop the culture of impunity enjoyed by the leaders of the country who had committed serious crimes" against their own people.

Ieng Sary is the only defendant before the tribunal who has already been tried and pardoned.

On Tuesday, Ieng Sary's lawyers argued that trying their client violates constitutional double-jeopardy principles because he had already been convicted by the 1979 tribunal on similar charges and pardoned. But prosecutors countered that the current case is based on a different set of facts.

The defense has also argued that Ieng Sary should be released from pretrial detention because ill health has made him unable to fully assist his lawyers.

The temple ghost returns

The Bangkok Post

By Anchalee Kongrut

Preah Vihear, the 900-year-old temple currently in the spotlight, has always been like a restless ghost. At a proper given moment and background, it finds a way to come back and haunt the Thai people.

On June 15, 1962 the whole country mourned when the International Court of Justice ruled that the ancient Khmer-style temple was situated in Cambodian territory.

This year, the ghost of Preah Vihear has returned with a vengeance.

The eerie episode started on June 18, when Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama signed a joint communique with the Cambodian government, endorsing the latter in unilaterally nominating the Preah Vihear Temple for inscription as a World Heritage Site.

The World Heritage label is a high-profile global status which will bring fame and real advantages including tourists and money, and financial grants from the United Nations' World Heritage Fund.

The sentiment is similar to the fervent patriotism in 1962, when each Thai citizen was asked to chip in at least one baht to help fund Thailand's attempt to defend the temple at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Last week in Si Sa Ket province, local protesters threatened to evict Cambodians living in the problematic overlapping area along the border. Cambodia has closed access to the temple since last week.

Like a good Hollywood remake, the ghost of Preah Vihear has had some new features for the 2008 version. This time, centre stage is devoted to which country will secure the World Heritage Status for Preah Vihear temple.

The World Heritage Committee (WHC) is an independent body under the Unesco umbrella. It is holding its annual meeting from today till July 10 in Quebec, Canada, during which it approves or defers World Heritage nominations.

It is almost certain that Cambodia will resubmit its nomination for Preah Vihear. Since 1992, the country has tried to inscribe the temple as a World Heritage site.

Cambodia's past attempts were vetoed by Thailand, which feared a unilateral nomination would include the 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping land still under dispute.

The WHC's last meeting in New Zealand deferred Cambodia's nomination and advised that the country get consent from Thailand.

Cambodia managed to secure the endorsement when Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama signed the joint communique on June 18, 2008. According to the joint communique, Thailand supports the inscription of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site as proposed by Cambodia. And Cambodia, in showing reciprocal goodwill and conciliation, will nominate only the temple structure, without the buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the temple.

But the Cambodian move has since faced obstacles. Last week, 43 Thai senators and 300 members of the Thai elite establishment signed a petition asking the WHC to defer Cambodia's nomination of Preah Vihear and sought time for Thailand to file a joint-nomination. The campaign has picked up momentum, with another 25,000 Thais having signed the petition.

The protesters say Cambodia's unilateral nomination would undermine the integrity of the ancient Hindu site. The temple was not a stand-alone architecture, but a complex in which related structures i.e stupas, barai (man-made lake) are interrelated and constitute a meaning within the ancient Hindu belief.

Inscribing only the temple while ignoring the related structures that make it whole - which are located in Thailand's territory - would undermine the integrity of the site, said Senator M R Priyanandana Rangsit. She insisted the WHC should defer the listing and give Thailand time to prepare the necessary document for joint nomination.

The WHC has a long history of inscribing entire sites, such as Angkor, the whole ancient cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai or even the Jesuit mission of the Guaranis which is a transboundary property between Brazil and Argentina. But integrity is not a must. Richard Engelhardt, an adviser at Unesco's Asia-Pacific office, said the WHC sometimes gave weight to only architectural value.
For instance, only the Taj Mahal building was listed as a World Heritage site while the garden in the same compound was omitted.

In case of transboundary property, the WHC does allow State party members to file a joint nomination.

So far, the WHC has inscribed 851 properties with universal values, including 660 cultural sites and 166 natural sites - 25 of them are transboundary properties.

The WHC has two avenues for countries with shared property to secure the World Heritage status. First, countries can file for a joint nomination and help manage the site together under the same rules laid down by Unesco. For disagreeing countries, the WHC allows each individual member to lodge a separate nomination. Each country would separately manage the site.

But the question is whether Thailand and Cambodia can or should resume cordial relations and file for joint nomination.

Cultural experts in Thailand have criticised the data which Cambodia has submitted to WHC as being one-sided and distorted from the facts, thereby undermining the value of the related structures that lie in Thai territory.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) in Thailand sent a petition to Unesco to reconsider the information from Cambodia, according to Vasu Poshyanondana, archaeologist and assistant secretary-general at Icomos-Thailand office.

Icomos is an advisory agency which gives recommendations to Unesco on conservation techniques and provides technical assistance to the WHC on the granting of World Heritage status to State party's nominations.

However, the final decision rests with the WHC. This year, neither Thailand nor Cambodia sits on the committee.

The WHC has spent the past 30 months reading the information proposed by Cambodia, according to Mr Engelhardt. The Thai senators' question about the integrity of the whole site is a challenging one for the WHC. At the end, the WHC will relay the question back to, and check on the position of, the Thai government.

It remains to be seen what the Thai government will do, since the Administrative Court has granted an injunction while checking if Minister Noppadon had the authority to sign the joint communique endorsing Cambodia's unilateral inscription of the temple.

Sompen Kutranon, a Thai businesswoman who has lived in Phnom Penh for 18 years, said local people were not paying much interest to this issue. They understand that the Preah Vihear issue has been politicised by anti-government protesters.

The Cambodian government only needs Preah Vihear as a new tourist attraction. Ms Sompen - who helped staff at the Thai embassy during the riot against Thais in 2003 - said she did not expect another riot against Thais.

"The Cambodian government will not allow any riot because the economy in Phnom Penh is very good. It will not allow any turmoil that could scare investors away," she said.

She added that people in Cambodia, herself included, could not understand why Thais had to protest against Cambodia's attempt to enlist its own property as a World Heritage site.

"Local Cambodians are very clear. The temple belongs to Cambodia and it is their right to get it listed. People here do not care about the overlapping land and surrounding areas. They have been waiting for the temple to become a heritage of the world," she said.

"If they find that Unesco has deferred its decision again, they may get angry, very angry," Ms Sompen said.

Cambodia Beyond Pol Pot

The World Must Now Ensure That Hun Sen Cannot Bribe Or Intimidate His Way To Unbridled Power.

By William Shawcross
Apr 27, 1998 Issue

THE BEST THING THAT COULD COME OF THE DEATH OF POL Pot would be a new focus by both Cambodian government officials and the Western media on the country's bleak present and its uncertain future--rather than dwelling on its awful past. Pol Pot made good copy for the media; mad mass murderers always do. But for many years the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, exiled in border regions, have also bordered on the irrelevant. They have been far less important to Cambodia than the misconduct of politicians in and around Phnom Penh.

Still, news about Cambodia has tended to be dominated by the Khmer Rouge: the country has been defined by perceptions of their threat. ""Pol Pot'' was the only Cambodian name that most people in the West had ever heard of. It's hard for editors to tell readers that actually Pol Pot is a man of the past--thank goodness. None of this is to suggest that Pol Pot and the crimes of his Khmer Rouge did not matter to ordinary Cambodians. They did; hardly a family did not lose relatives to murder, disease or starvation in the terrible years of 1975-78. The only sad thing about Pol Pot's death is that he was never brought to trial. Trials can be cathartic, and they also establish an important body of evidence, if not the truth. But in Cambodia none of the attempts to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice has got anywhere. Nobody wanted to do the job properly.

The greatest blow against the truth occurred in August 1996. Cambodia's two prime ministers--Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge soldier, and the royalist leader Prince Ranariddh--competed to offer amnesty to Ieng Sary, Pol Pot's deputy. Amnesty International protested strongly. ""Impunity,'' said Amnesty, ""is one of the main contributing factors to continuing cycles of human-rights violations worldwide.'' That is certainly true of Cambodia today--disastrously so, given the suffering of the country in the last three decades, and given also the huge effort there by the U.N. peacekeeping operation in 1992-93.

That operation resulted in moving elections. The royalists won a resounding victory, but the ruling People's Party (the former communists) under Hun Sen refused to give up power. So the U.N. allowed a coalition of the two parties, in which both Ranariddh and Hun Sen would be prime ministers. The prince was no match for Hun Sen, who has retained most real power. More effective opposition has come from Sam Rainsy, a former finance minister who fell out with both prime ministers because he wanted to slash corruption, and who set up his own Khmer Nation Party. On March 30, 1997, Rainsy was holding a peaceful, legal political meeting in Phnom Penh when men thought to be working for Hun Sen flung grenades into the crowd. More than 100 people, including women and children, were killed, horribly.

Last summer Hun Sen accused Ranariddh of collaborating with Pol Pot. Ranariddh fled the country to avoid arrest by his co-prime minister, who staged a violent coup against the coalition government. Since then Hun Sen's thugs have murdered at least 60 and perhaps more than 100 of Ranariddh's colleagues. Ranariddh returned briefly this month after his father, King Sihanouk, on Hun Sen's recommendation issued a pardon for any crimes he might have committed.

There are to be elections in July--the first since those in 1993. There is a real risk that these will be a travesty designed only to perpetuate Hun Sen's power. The ASEAN states, the European Union and the United Nations are all nervously wondering how far to finance or monitor the elections, given that no voting is likely to be even halfway free or fair. But the outside world is not powerless. Cambodia's tiny economy is totally dependent on foreign aid, which should be made contingent on Hun Sen's doing everything to create a neutral political environment. At present, the nation lives in fear.

Prince Ranariddh must be allowed to participate fully in the electoral process. So must all his party offices in the provinces (much more difficult, since Hun Sen's police and militia are the only force in most rural areas). All other parties should be allowed to open offices throughout the country and have equal access to the state press, radio and television. This applies especially to Rainsy's party. Despite the grenade attack and other threats, Rainsy has continued bravely. His thin, intense presence is far more popular in Phnom Penh than that of either prime minister. Rainsy seems to be emerging as the leader of choice for all those disillusioned with both Hun Sen's violent corruption and Ranariddh's ineffectual lack of vision.

But if Rainsy is to have any chance, Hun Sen's lawlessness must be curbed--by the donor nations and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, all of whom are committed under the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement to uphold democracy in Cambodia. Of course it would be easier for the world to look the other way and allow Hun Sen to intimidate, murder, bribe his way to victory and then say, ""At least that's resolved.'' But victory on those terms will be another defeat for Cambodia. It will postpone even longer the emergence of the rule of law and civil society--which any country must have if it is to prosper and progress.

If the international community means it when it says ""never again'' of Pol Pot, it must say ""no'' to Hun Sen now. And mean it.

SHAWCROSS is the author of ''Sideshow,'' a history of Cambodia in the 1970s, and is presently working on a book on the United Nations.

Govt will respect court's injunction on preah vihear


Published on July 2, 2008

The government will respect the Central Administrative Court's injunction against the June 17 Cabinet resolution on the Preah Vihear temple, Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said yesterday.

"Following the injunction, the government will refrain from undertaking any activities authorised by the Cabinet resolution before the conclusion of the judicial review on the matter," he said.

The Foreign Ministry has suggested that Thailand surrendered its sovereignty over the temple and its surroundings in 1962 when the Cabinet agreed to follow the International Court of Justice's ruling handing the property to Cambodia.

A note from then foreign minister Thanat Khoman to the United Nations in 1962 expressed the Kingdom's disagreement with the decision and reserved the right, if any, in the future to resume its claims to the temple.

However the map annexed with Thanat's note to then UN secretary-general U Thant indicated that Thailand had "relinquished" part of territory handed together with the temple to Cambodia, said Krit Kraichitti, director of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department.

Somchai said immediate measures in response to the injunction included instructions for the Foreign Ministry to disseminate information about the Thai government's obligations under the court order.

This will be relayed to the Cambodian government, Unesco and the 21-member World Heritage Committee.

"The message of the Thai government is that enforcement of the Thai-Cambodian joint communiqu้ will be suspended until the completion of the judicial review," he said.

The Cabinet also instructed the Council of State to advise on what further needed to be done.

However, the government has not finalised its decision on whether to seek to stay the injunction, pending recommendations from legal advisers. Thailand will not send a delegation to the World Heritage session, starting tomorrow in Quebec, but the Thai ambassador to Canada will represent the country at the meeting.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej spoke to Thais in China during his official visit there and said he had also talked to Prime Minister Hun Sen by phone about the issue, which Samak said does not upset the bilateral relationship.

He also asked Hun Sen to take care of Thais and Thai businesses in Cambodia and he would do the same for Cambodian interests in Thailand.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob said he would today forward the opposition's motion relating to the Preah Vihear issue to the Constitution Court.

The Democrat Party has sought a legal interpretation on whether the communiqu้'s contents could classify it as a treaty, which would require parliamentary ratification.

The opposition contends that the government has violated Article 190 of the Constitution in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.

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Govt to ask for Council of State's advice on temple

The Bangkok Post
Wednesday July 02, 2008

Coalition urges delay in support for Cambodia

The government decided yesterday to seek the Council of State's legal advice over the Administrative Court's temporary injunction against the joint communique with Cambodia before making any move on Preah Vihear temple.

The decision came as coalition allies met to pressure the People Power party (PPP) to delay the decision to back the Cambodian government's World Heritage application, a cabinet source said.

The court ruled on Saturday against endorsement of the joint communique with Cambodia supporting Phnom Penh's push to list the Preah Vihear temple as a new World Heritage site.

The joint communique, signed by Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, has a map attached to it identifying the agreed boundaries of the temple site.

Approval of the map led to cabinet endorsement of the joint communique.

The Democrat party and other critics fiercely opposed the government over the issue, warning of its implications on future talks with Cambodia to settle the borderline permanently.

They proposed a joint nomination as a way out, as the Preah Vihear temple is on the Cambodian border but related ruins are in the disputed area between Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.

The court's ruling was high on the agenda at yesterday's cabinet meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who chaired the meeting as Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is still on a visit to China, said the cabinet accepted the court's ruling and needed help from the state's legal advisory agency.

''The cabinet ordered the Council of State to see what the government's next step should be,'' including if it will appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court to have the ruling reversed, he said.

The Foreign Ministry has been assigned to explain the decision to Cambodia, Unesco, the Thai embassy to Canada and the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee.

The committee will start its nine-day meeting in Quebec today . The Preah Vihear temple issue is expected to be discussed within days.

Before the cabinet meeting, key members of the coalition led by Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart from Chart Thai, Industry Minister Suwit Khunkitti from Puea Pandin, Agriculture Minister Somsak Prissananantakul also from Chart Thai, Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pataraprasit from Ruamjaithai Chart Pattana and Labour Minister Uraiwan Thienthong from Pracharaj discussed a common strategy.

They demanded the PPP-led government delay support for Cambodia until all legal hurdles involving the Preah Vihear temple are cleared up.

The issue was fiercely debated for an hour in the cabinet meeting, including over whether or not the government should immediately appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court or turn to seek legal advice from the Council of State, the cabinet source said.

Cabinet ministers favouring an immediate appeal included PM's Office Minister Chusak Sirinil, to make it clear if the Administrative Court had authority to interfere in government policy.

But Maj-Gen Sanan strongly opposed the idea and warned that the safest way was to wait for suggestions by legal experts from the Council of State.

He even questioned the transparency of the issue saying he did not see the cabinet resolution until the foreign minister had signed the joint communique.

Council of State secretary-general Pornthip Jara said the agency will call a meeting to consider the matter.

The prime minister said in Beijing that he had already notified Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen of the court's injunction.

''When the court grants an injunction, we have to respect it,'' he told the Thai News Agency.

Treaties and Legal Affairs Department director-general Krit Kraichitti said the Foreign Ministry will not send the court injunction to Unesco until the Council of State makes a recommendation to the government.

Minding the kids

HENG CHIVOAN; Trained staff look after the children of busy parents at the Happy Kid Care Centre in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Wednesday, 02 July 2008

Day-care centers are becoming an increasingly popular child care option for dual-income families among the capital’s growing middle class.

Khem Sokha, management coordinator of the Happy Kid Care Center in Phnom Penh, said, “We decided to establish the center because we have realized that most parents don’t have enough time to stay at home to take care of their kids.”

“Even though I have a maid at my house, I don’t trust her to look after my son because she has a lot of work to do, and I think she will yell at my son when he cries,” said Chhim Sochenda, the mother of a three-year-old boy.

“The Kid Care Center has trained caregivers,” she said. “I have sent my son to the center for about two months, and I think that they are able to look after my son carefully and teach him good discipline. My son is different now because he can eat meals by himself; greet older people politely, read books, and is just more obedient.”

“I think that in the future our country will develop child care the same as western countries, and this service will help kids to develop themselves and make them more brave and clever,” said Khem Sokha.

The Happy Kid Care Center became the first day care center in Cambodia to accept children as young as six months old when it opened its doors in April of this year. From only three children enrolled on opening day, the center now has 30 kids, including two children of foreigners.

“There are eight caregivers at my center and they each have to train for two months before they come to work at the center,” said Khem Sokha.

The center’s nanny supervisor, Tim Sophea, 35, said she has to try her best when taking care of the children in order to win the trust of parents. She said she considered the children as her own.

“This work is very difficult and I have to endure a lot with them because the kids are like crabs,” said. “If I talk or do something harshly with them, they will cry or get angry with me. I have to speak gently with them, never yell at them. I have to tell them, ‘I love you and if you cry or don’t listen to me. I will stop loving you.’”

“I like kids and I want to work with them,” said caregiver Soy Makara, 20. “Even though they make me tired, I am happy to take care of them. I never shout at them. If I do something harsh with them, my director will make me stop work,” she said.

“It’s a good idea that some parents can send their children to day care centers instead of leaving them at home without proper care,” said Dr. Sorn Sarath, director of the health department at the NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant.

“Child care can help reduce the workload of parents who are too busy to look after their kids because they have to work all day,” Sorn Sarath said. “We can’t say their parents are neglecting their responsibilities because we give the children time to meet friends and learn, and they still have time with their parents in the evenings.”

1st army chief: No tension along Thai-Cambodian border

The Bangkok Post
Breaking News

First Army Region Commander Lt-Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday indicated that the controversial issue of the attempted registration of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site had not caused any tension on the shared border of Thailand and Cambodia.

He said the First Army Region oversees the common border and overlapping areas.

Officers from Gen Prayuth's region are in continued close contact with both Cambodian and Thai military units along the border. He said that the temple issue had not caused any border tension.

Residents on both sides of the border continued trading with each other as usual,m he said, and were not paying much attention to the matter.

Gen Prayuth said the temple registration practically involved tourism, but the matter has become politicised and has caused some confusion. The Thai commander advised everyone to consider carefully what is right or wrong.

"We want our citizens to pay attention to the situation. Military personnel and civil servants assigned in the area will do their best to deal with the issue," he said. "We have shared affection for our country."

Gen. Prayuth said he had always instructed his subordinates to perform their duties to the utmost of their ability, particularly in protecting the borders and keeping the peace.

"In particular, a key mission of the military is to protect and maintain our land. We think there will be a good resolution of the situation," he said. (TNA)

The Casting Ballot by Khmer Mchas Srok

Click on image to zoom in
Courtesy of Khmer Majas Srok Newspaper

Building bridges abroad

Pine Rivers State High School students Julieann Martin, Sam Morgan, Amy Wilkosz, Erin Woodgate and Jessica Saunders brush up on their knowledge of Cambodia before flying out to build much-needed homes in the impoverished Asian nation.

The Westerner
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Source: Lee Oliver

Students and staff at Pine Rivers State High School have forgone their mid-year holiday to help people in one of Asia’s most impoverished nations.

A group of seven students and three staff members from the Strathpine-based school, as well as a numerous community members, are currently volunteering in Cambodia as part of the Tabitha Foundation House Building Program.

The group, who flew out for Cambodia last weekend for their 12-day working visit, are building a small village of 20 houses for homeless families in Kompong Province, in the country’s east.

The Pine Rivers connection with Cambodia began last year when the school’s Student Representative Council raised $1200 to sponsor one house for a homeless Cambodian family.

Speaking before the group’s departure, Pine Rivers student Jessica Saunders said teacher Gayle Carr inspired the school’s students and staff to form their own house building team after returning from helping to build the sponsored house.

“One of our teachers came back from Cambodia last year and wanted to get a school trip running for it and get students involved to share the experience,” Ms Saunders said.

The Pine Rivers High community raised almost $25,000 over six months for the project, which travelling teacher Joy Franz said was an apt reflection of the school’s motto “by difference ways to excellence.”

“The school has opted to make a difference and this is the students’ contribution, and the staff’s contribution as well, to helping the more impoverished people of the world,” Ms Franz said.

“We’re really making our school’s vision a very concrete one through this project. I think it’s going to be a fantastic experience for us all.

“There will be a lot of things that we are going to confront in a totally different culture, and we’ll come back and realise just how well off we are in Australia.”

Student House Building Team leader Amy Wilkosz anticipated the trip would be a life-changing experience.

“We’ve been educated about what the poverty there is like, so we kind of know what to expect, but to see it will be a totally different thing,” Ms Wilkosz said.

Fellow Pine Rivers students Erin Woodgate, Sam Morgan, Julieann Martin, Emma Doyle and Richard McKay are also in Cambodia, as are Ms Carr and fellow teacher Carol-Ann Morel.

The Tabitha Foundation, which works “exclusively to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor”, has been running aid programs in Cambodia since 1994.

Cambodia celebrates National Fish Day

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

The important role of fish in Cambodia's society and economy has been celebrated at a ceremony in Kampong Chhnang province.

About 500,000 fish were released at Boeng Knar lake in Samki Meanchey district July 1 in a ceremony organized by the government to celebrate National Fish Day.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chan Sarun, who was representing Prime Minister Hun Sen, said the day had been organized for the past five years to promote awareness of the need to protect and conserve fish.

“Cambodia is a small country but since 2000 it has been ranked fourth in the world in inland fish production, after China, India and Bangladesh,” Sarun told hundreds of participants at the event.

He said official figures showed that Cambodians consume an average of 37.5 kilograms of fish a year, well over twice the global consumption average of 15.8 kilograms a year.

Sarun said fish are a major source of nutrition in the Cambodian diet, in which they account for more than 75 percent of the total animal proteins.

Nao Thuok, chief of fisheries administration, told the Post that during the fishing season in late 2007 and early 2008, the national catch totaled about 473,760 tonnes of fresh water, marine and aquaculture fish.

Thuok said illegal fishing had declined since the National Assembly enacted a law in March 30, 2006, to protect and preserve freshwater and marine fish species.

Illegal fishing in the first six months this year was down about 30 percent over the same period in 2007, he said.

“We have cracked down on 3,216 cases of illegal fishing and about 60 offenders have been jailed," he said. "We have promoted the law on fisheries throughout the nation and most people who rely on fishing to make a living understand it."

Previous National Fish Day events were held in Kampong Speu, Kandal, Prey Veng, Sihanoukville and Takeo provinces.

CAMBODIA Church-run Pediatric Facility Expands

UCA News
June 30, 2008

TAKEO, Cambodia (UCAN) -- The opening of a new building in a Church-run pediatric facility now allows poor patients greater access to surgery and medical treatment for heart disease.

On June 23, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to Cambodia, inaugurated the new building at Bambino Gesu (infant Jesus) Pediatric Hospital within Dankeo Referral Hospital in Takeo, 70 kilometers south of Phnom Penh.

The Bangkok-based nuncio said he is pleased with the collaboration between the Church-run facility for children and the government hospital. The new building is equipped for surgery and treatment of heart disease.

At the launch Doctor Lorenzo Borghese, coordinator of Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, said it has treated 3,141 patients from across the country, all for free, since it opened in 2006. Of those young patients, 267 have had surgery, he added. The children's hospital also provides training for local doctors and nurses, he noted.

Doctor Tae Vanntha told UCA News that until now children could undergo surgery only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the Dankeo hospital's operating theater was available to the children's hospital. With the opening of the new building, he says Bambino Gesu could perform surgery on five or six children every day.

According to Vanntha, most of the child patients are brought by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and NGOs. Some come after hearing about the facility from neighbors, the doctor added.

Among the most common surgeries it has performed are correction of congenital malformations such as cleft palate and scarring from wounds caused by land mines.

The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul manage the facility in cooperation with and sponsorship from L'Ospedale Bambino Gesu (hospital of the infant Jesus), a pediatric hospital the Holy See owns in Rome.

"We have sent nine children with life-threatening heart problems for surgery at L'Ospedale Bambino Gesu," Sister Myrna Porto told UCA News. She said her congregation also supported family members to accompany the children for three months. These services have cost US$260,000, all funded from Italy, and five of the children have returned, the Filipina nun revealed.

Soun Channy, 25, told UCA News she had been at the pediatric hospital in Takeo seven days with both of her children, who have a congenital skin disease. "The doctor tried to research our family background, but could not find anything, because my husband's family was killed during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979)," recounted the woman from Sihanoukville, 200 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh. She confirmed she does not need to pay for her children's treatment here.

Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital has beds for 24 regular and eight intensive-care patients under the age of 18 years. It has three doctors, one a foreigner, as well as 12 nurses and two office workers. The Cambodian government pays the salaries of all staff, while all equipment comes from Italy.

Closure for Cambodia?

Thirty years on, the Khmer Rouge trials risk collapse.

By Erika Kinetz Newsweek Web Exclusive

Nearly 10 years after the Cambodian government first asked for help setting up a court to try leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, it has yet to hold a single hearing. Washington refuses to fund the court on the ground that it's not up to international standards, and its ambassador, Joseph Mussomeli, says, "no trial would be better than a trial that will be a farce." The court's foreign and Cambodian judges are deadlocked over procedure, and the foreign judges have threatened to walk out rather than participate in what they fear could become an exercise in politics over justice.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Since the Nuremberg tribunal after World War II, trials of brutal leaders have slowly become more common and established a moderately positive record.
U.N. courts have convicted numerous individuals for the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. A hybrid court under local and international auspices is slowly getting off the ground in Sierra Leone. But the Cambodia tribunal, also an experimental local-international hybrid, has gone nowhere—denying justice to the almost 2 million victims of one of the 20th century's worst acts of mass slaughter. Court insiders, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, now give the tribunal a 50-50 chance of collapsing.

Part of the problem is that, unlike the U.N. courts, Cambodia's tribunal is, at the government's insistence, mainly a national affair staffed mostly with Cambodian judges (though they are supposed to be guided by international principles). Hans Corell, who led the U.N.'s effort to help establish the court, says that he is "not at all convinced that this represents a good solution" to the problem of achieving justice in a local context. There's a certain emotional logic to prosecuting Cambodian crimes in Cambodia, and optimists hope a televised exercise in real justice will help break the cycle of violence and impunity that haunts the nation.

But that outcome looks unlikely. Hun Sen's government seems interested in the trial only to the extent it will vindicate its own anti-Khmer Rouge credentials—without dredging up awkward facts, such as current officials' own Khmer Rouge ties or the support that China, now a close ally, gave to the genocidal regime. The are other worrisome signs: one of the court's Cambodian judges has admitted taking bribes, and another once sent an opposition politician to prison after a one-day trial. An American watchdog group, the Open Society Justice Initiative, recently alleged that employees of the court were being forced to pay kickbacks to government officials (a charge Phnom Penh denies), and the U.N. is auditing the court's hiring of local staff. Sara Colm of Human Rights Watch says the Cambodian government "got cold feet" when it realized that working with foreign partners meant "it might not be able to control" the judicial process.

The government does look willing to let the trial proceed, albeit in a limited fashion. Part of Hun Sen's legitimacy comes from the fact that his Vietnam-backed government held the Khmer Rouge at bay during the 1980s even as the West backed remnants of the murderous regime. "Twenty years ago we fought the Khmer Rouge, and no one supported us except a few friends," says Prak Sokhon, the cabinet secretary. "Now the tribunal will show that [we were] right."

Even if it does move forward, however, it's unclear which kind of justice the court can deliver.
The key suspects are old and, like Pol Pot, rapidly dying off. And though surveys show most Cambodians support the tribunal, what they really want to know is what happened to their spouses and children. Moreover, traditional Cambodian justice usually involves simple retribution, using lynch mobs or cash compensation. The court's Canadian co-prosecutor, Robert Petit, maintains that no court can hope to deliver justice equal to the suffering of victims in such cases. But if Cambodia's court is transparent, he says, it could establish an "incontrovertible record about what happened."

Ideal or not, most agree that Cambodia's hybrid court is the country's last chance to exorcise its demons—and that time is fast running out. French judge Marcel Lemonde says that if procedures aren't adopted by this spring, it may, regrettably, be time to call it quits. International staffers are nearing their wits' end: "Nobody came here to move paper around," says Petit. But that's as close to justice as Cambodia is getting these days.

With Joe Cochrane

Cambodian temple dispute continues

Preah Vihear temple (


Thailand withdraws support for World Heritage listing

The dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple has reignited.

The 11th-century Hindu temple, which lies on the two countries’ borders, was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court in 1962 following years of dispute.

Many people in Thailand still feel aggrieved by the decision. Bowing to pressure, the Thai government has now withdrawn its backing for a bid to have the temple listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

The current dispute centres around a 4.6 square kilometre area near the temple. A number of Cambodian people have now moved into this area.

Opposition politicians in Thailand claimed that the Thai government was ceding this land to Cambodia by supporting the World Heritage bid.

Cambodia closed the temple and the border after around 100 Thai people marched to the temple to protest at their government’s backing for the bid.

This isn’t the first time that a row over a temple has led to acrimony and even violence.

In 2003, a Cambodian newspaper falsely claimed that a Thai actress had said that the world-famous Angkor Wat temple belonged to Thailand. This led to riots in Phnom Penh, including the burning of the Thai Embassy.

UNESCO is meeting this week to discuss new World Heritage sites.

Thailand withdraws support for Khmer's Preah Vihear Temple

By The Nation

Thai Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to withdraw its support for Cambodia's bid to list Preah Vihear Temple as a Unesco World Heritage site to be in line with the Administrative Court's order of injunction.

Deputy Prime Somchai Wongsavat said the foreign ministry will inform the Cambodian government and the Unesco of the court's order and the government's resolution.

The Court has issued an injunction on the Thai support for the Cambodia's long-awaited proposal to put the controversy temple in the World Heritage list after People's Alliance for Democracy filed a complaint with the court.

It is still unclear whether Thailand's withdrawal of support for Cambodia will effect Unesco's World Heritage Committee's consideration on the Khmer proposal. Unesco has initially requested that the proposal be submitted only with Thailand's "active support".

Unesco has begun its annual meeting in Canada and Cambodia's proposal of the temple is on the agenda to be considered on July 7.

Somchai declined to say whether the Thai government will appeal the court's oder of injunction.

Thai government suspends UNESCO temple deal with Cambodia

The site sits on Cambodian soil but can only be easily accessed from Thailand

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand's government will not appeal a ruling that suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid to see a disputed Hindu temple granted World Heritage status, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

Despite a long-standing territorial dispute over the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, the Thai cabinet voted two weeks ago to support its neighbour's application at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But anti-government protesters succeeded in obtaining an injunction last weekend from the Central Administrative Court to annul the joint communique.

"We have resolved to comply with the court's decision. We will suspend the joint communique and keep Cambodia informed," Thai foreign minister Noppadon Pattama told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

"Our prime minister has already told Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that we will send them an official letter," Noppadon said.

The government would seek further legal advice, Somchai Wongsawat, deputy prime minister told AFP.

"We will wait for advice from the Council of State, which I expect to seek in next week's meeting," Somchai said.

Last week Cambodia closed the temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

Cambodia had planned to present the joint communique as part of its application to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to have the site listed to attract more tourists.

Cambodia last year attempted to have the ancient Hindu temple, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, listed by UNESCO. But that effort failed, amid rumours Thailand had blocked the deal.

Cambodia began seeking World Heritage status for the temple, which has long plagued relations between the two countries, nearly six years ago.

Both countries have historically laid claim to the site, which sits on Cambodian soil but can only be easily accessed from Thailand.

Former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk took Thailand to the World Court in 1962 over the two countries' claim to Preah Vihear. The court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia.

Govt will respect court's injunction on preah vihear

Published on July 2, 2008

The government will respect the Central Administrative Court's injunction against the June 17 Cabinet resolution on the Preah Vihear temple, Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said yesterday.

"Following the injunction, the government will refrain from undertaking any activities authorised by the Cabinet resolution before the conclusion of the judicial review on the matter," he said.

The Foreign Ministry has suggested that Thailand surrendered its sovereignty over the temple and its surroundings in 1962 when the Cabinet agreed to follow the International Court of Justice's ruling handing the property to Cambodia.

A note from then foreign minister Thanat Khoman to the United Nations in 1962 expressed the Kingdom's disagreement with the decision and reserved the right, if any, in the future to resume its claims to the temple.

However the map annexed with Thanat's note to then UN secretary-general U Thant indicated that Thailand had "relinquished" part of territory handed together with the temple to Cambodia, said Krit Kraichitti, director of the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department.

Somchai said immediate measures in response to the injunction included instructions for the Foreign Ministry to disseminate information about the Thai government's obligations under the court order.

This will be relayed to the Cambodian government, Unesco and the 21-member World Heritage Committee.

"The message of the Thai government is that enforcement of the Thai-Cambodian joint communiqu้ will be suspended until the completion of the judicial review," he said.

The Cabinet also instructed the Council of State to advise on what further needed to be done.

However, the government has not finalised its decision on whether to seek to stay the injunction, pending recommendations from legal advisers. Thailand will not send a delegation to the World Heritage session, starting tomorrow in Quebec, but the Thai ambassador to Canada will represent the country at the meeting.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej spoke to Thais in China during his official visit there and said he had also talked to Prime Minister Hun Sen by phone about the issue, which Samak said does not upset the bilateral relationship.

He also asked Hun Sen to take care of Thais and Thai businesses in Cambodia and he would do the same for Cambodian interests in Thailand.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob said he would today forward the opposition's motion relating to the Preah Vihear issue to the Constitution Court.

The Democrat Party has sought a legal interpretation on whether the communiqu้'s contents could classify it as a treaty, which would require parliamentary ratification.

The opposition contends that the government has violated Article 190 of the Constitution in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.

Protests Continue in Thailand

Bangkok, Jul 1 (Prensa Latina) Demonstrators from the opposition Alliance for Democracy (APD) are still surrounding the Government headquarters despite a judicial order to disband.

The APD, determined to oust the executive, ignored the court order to stop obstructing traffic using loudspeakers on work days.

However the Democratic Party (DP), that failed last week with a vote of censure against Prime Minister Samak Sundarajev and six cabinet's leaders, has made its offensive more severe against Foreign Minister Nopadom Pattana.

The Thailand foreign minister is the target of those who accuse the government of ignoring the country's interest by signing an agreement with Cambodia that settled the dispute over the territory where the ruins of Khmer de Preah Vihear Temple are, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.

The DP leader Abhisit Vejjajiva sent UNESCO the petition to reject a Bangkok-Phnom Penh joint declaration by which the area will remain under Cambodia's sovereignty and both countries will manage the monument.

Hearing to Continue for Ieng Sary Pardon

Cambodians line up for the start of hearings for former Khmer Rouge foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary.

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (.97 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (.97 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Jailed Khmer Rouge Ieng Sary was able to participate in a hearing Tuesday, over whether his pardon from a 1979 trial verdict should excuse him from the tribunal. A hearing over his pre-trial detention was cut short Monday, due to health concerns.

Ieng Sary, the regime's former foreign affairs minister, was found guilty of genocide in absentia by a Vietnamese-backed trial following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, and he was pardoned by King Norodom Sihanouk in 1996.

The hearing continues Wednesday, as tribunal judges seek to decide whether the 1996 pardon would make him ineligible for trial by the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

"Indeed, the trial of 1979 extends to all the criminal activities that Ieng Sary is accused of until now," Ang Udom, Ieng Sary's Cambodian lawyer, told the court Tuesday. "So there is no need to make a trial twice, based on the principle of [double jeopardy]. This principal says that one person cannot be tried twice for the same accusation."

Co-defense laywer Michael Karnavas told the court Tuesday Ieng Sary should be kept under house arrest. On Monday, Ieng Sary's weakened condition prevented the afternoon session of a hearing to determine whether he should be detained ahead of his atrocity crimes trial.

Yeth Chakrya, co-prosecutor, told the court that Ieng Sary was facing crimes other than genocide, and the tribunal had found evidence of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes. The pre-trial chamber must consider this, he said, and must reject the decision of the 1979 trial.

For One Woman, a Journey Into Politics

By Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (1.34 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (1.34 MB) - Listen (MP3)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the first in a two-part series examining the role of women in politics.]

Chhan Samnang came to Phnom Penh in 1979 as a vendor of fried banana cakes, following the collapse of the Khmer Rogue. Now 51 years old, Chhan Samnang is a commune council member in Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district. If possible, she plans to do even more, by entering national politics one day.

Chhan Samnang is one example of the few women in local politics, where only 15 percent of commune council members are women. Even so, she one day hopes to be a representative at the national level, where 22 of the 123 members of the National Assembly are women.

Chhan Samnang became interested in politics when she met opposition leader Sam Rainsy at a market, in 1996. After speaking to him, she decided to join his party, then called the Khmer National Party, the precursor to Sam Rainsy's eponymous party. She became an activist and won a seat as a first deputy council member in 2002, winning again in commune elections in 2007.

Her leg has been disfigured, by polio, since she was a young girl, and she is sometimes criticized for her disability. But she does not care what people say, she told VOA Khmer in an interview.
She prefers to show her abilities, rather than dwell on her disability.

One day, Chhan Samnang hopes to run as a member of parliament, but for this year's general election, she is campaigning for her party and remaining a local representative of her commune. If she has the ability to go further, she said, she will.

Khieu Samphan Defense Lawyer Resigns

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (1.22 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (1.22 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Cambodian lawyer of jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan has resigned, tribunal officials said Monday.

Sy Bory resigned last week due to reasons of ill health, said Rupert Skilbeck, head of the tribunal's defense section, declining further detail.

Sy Bory was likely to continue for a short while, but would not be able to complete the entire trial process, Skilbeck said, adding that it was better to replace him sooner rather than later.

Khieu Samphan will have to select new Cambodian representation, Skilbeck said.

Sy Bory's resignation was not likely to affect Khieu Samphan's trial, he said.

"We are confident he will be able to transfer the case smoothly and not cause any delay,"
Skilbeck said.

Sy Bory's resignation was not likely to bring any consequences for Khieu Samphan, said Hisham Mousar, who monitors the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc.

Sy Bory's work so far was to speak to reporters and to write a letter of appeal against the former leader's pre-trial detention. Khieu Samphan's French lawyer, Jacques Verges, had done much of the casework so far, Hisham Mousar said.

A tribunal statement issued Thursday said a new Cambodian lawyer would be selected "shortly."

No Serious Campaign Violence Reported: NEC

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 July 2008

In 22 instances of campaign irregularities reported to the National Election Committee since Thursday, none of them have included serious violence, officials said Tuesday.

This marked an improvement from 2003, election officials said.

"We've received 22 complaints up to today," NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha told reporters Tuesday. "All of the complaints are related to violations of NEC procedures."

He cited as examples the dueling of loudspeakers between two or more parties, or the installation of a party logo on a site without permission.

"But in all the complaints, we can compromise in the [commune election committees], and some others in the [provincial election committees]," he said. "None of the complaints will affect the election process."

Provincial election committees will be holding open hearings in some cases, he said.

Some parties, however, said they had suffered many abuses.

"We face much violence, violations of the election law, threats, [and] intimidation from the [Cambodian People's Party] against the Sam Rainsy Party activities in all forms," SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua told reporters at a separate press conference Tuesday.

Mu Sochua has alleged two attempts by vehicles to strike her, and claimed on Monday her shirt had been ripped open and her arm twisted in an altercation with a CPP supporter.

Commune police posts have banned the Sam Rainsy Party from playing loudspeakers in some communes, Mu Sochua said, and in other cases, the party has been prevented from campaigning village to village.

In a statement Tuesday the Norodom Ranariddh Party condemned a death threat to one of its activists and the prevention of the party from installing signs on some locations.

The party also accused 10 unidentified men of setting up a roadblock and throwing stones at activists in an attempt to dissuade the party from campaigning in Battambang province.

Human Rights Party Vice President Keo Remy said the party also experienced violence and destruction, including the ripping up of photos of party president Kem Sokha and concerted damage to party signs and leaflets in Phnom Penh.

Tep Nitha said Tuesday most irregularities were reported in Battambang and Phnom Penh, as well as Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces.

Three Small Parties Consider Alliance

By Win Thida,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 July 2008

The Khmer Anti-Poverty Party and the Society of Justice Party have agreed to help each other in an "alliance" during the campaign, and a third, the Khmer Republican Party is considering joining them, party officials said Tuesday.

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Tuesday such an alliance was unlikely to sway the outcome of the election.

However, party leaders said they hoped to bolster each other's efforts in provinces where one party was not represented but could still support another.

Better Treatment Sought for City's Poor

Ly Sophat, program director for the Mith Samlan organization, said Monday children need vocational training to stay off the streets.

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
01 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (5.48 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (5.48 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Thousand of street children suffering from various issues are adrift in Phnom Penh, and officials said Thursday they need training, not detention, to better their lives.

"We give them vocational training and education," said Ly Sophat, a program director for the NGO Mith Samlan, which works with street children. "When they leave us, they can find a job."

Mith Samlan does not detain children, she said, speaking Monday as a guest on "Hello VOA."
Phnom Penh authorities have come under pressure in recent days for the use of two rehabilitation centers, which the rights group Licadho called unlawful detention centers.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun told "Hello VOA" Monday he was not careless about children, and the city had at least one rehabilitation center that trains children in computer skills, English and motor repair, as well as helping them overcome drug addiction.

Ly Sophat told listeners they could find Mith Samlan at 215 Street 13, in Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh, or call them at 023-426-748 or 023-220-596.

Group Calls for Closure of City Centers

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
01 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (.99 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 1 July 2008 (.99 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The rights group Licadho on Monday called on authorities to close two social service centers near the capital that it said had turned into sites of illegal detention.

Both centers--Prey Speu and Koh Kor--were used by the Khmer Rouge, and the latter is located on an island.

Phnom Penh's department of social services has been using the centers to "lock up" beggars, the homeless, children and pregnant women, Licadho monitor Am Sam Art told VOA Khmer.

Phnom Penh city and police officials denied the centers did nothing but lock people up.

"The Licadho statement is not true because normally [authorities] try to collect all the beggar children, street children, homeless children and drug-addicted people to Koh Kor rehabilitation center," said Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth. "I believe that municipal policy is trying to collect those people in order to educate and train them to have good skills and a good profession."

Am Sam Art, however, said Licadho had investigated the centers and found that they were not acting in the interest of rehabilitation, but detention.

"Through our monitoring at the Koh Kor correction center, we saw people who were brought by the municipal department of social affairs and rehabilitation locked up and detained," he said.

Detainees "are only allowed to go outside one or two times a day, and there is a lack of medical care."

One woman died as a result of poor care, he said.

"According to the information that we have received from the former detainees who were freed from the center, the centers' guards always beat up the people who are brought in by the social affairs department," Am Sam Art said.

The door and windows are kept shut and people are provided buckets for urination and defecation, he said.

Some people gave bribes to one center's chief in order to free their relatives, he said.

"Some people bribe $100 to $150 to the center chief so that they can free their relatives," he said. "On 24 June, the Koh Kor rehabilitation center freed all the detainees, after Licadho provided pictures of the detainees, including children, women and old men, to the government, but there are five people still detained in the correction center," he said. "They all have mental problems and they don’t have anywhere to go."