Monday, 6 December 2010

Vendors protest rent rise


A vendor fixes a motorbike at Heng Ly market yesterday. Pha lina

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 administrator

MORE than 80 stallholders at Heng Ly market in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district protested over the weekend to press for the owner of the market to revise a recent decision to raise annual stall rental prices from US$2,800 per year to $4,320.

Tan Heang, a vendor representative, said yesterday that the protestors represented up to 800 stallholders who would be affected by the price rise, which they were notified of in September and is due to come into effect in January.

“There were more than 80 vendors who went for help from Tuol Kork district’s Teuk La’ak III commune chief on Saturday [to ask him to intervene] to reduce the cost of renting a stall because we cannot support what the market owner [asked] for us to pay,” he said.

Vendors also met with a representative of the market owner to discuss the price rise, he said, and had requested that the fee remain at $2,800.

“They said to us that they could not reduce the price and it is up to us if we don’t want to rent,” he said.

Ngiv Rith, another vendor representative, said stallholders would stage a protest at the Municipal Hall if the proposed price rise was not revised within the next few days.

“The market owner raises rental prices each year and we have never complained. But it is different this time and we have to protest because the price that the market owner raised the stall rental to is so expensive for us,” he said.

The owner of the market, Heng Ly, had refused demands to meet with vendors to discuss the issue “face to face”, he said, and had instead sent a representative.

Heng Ly could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Superstition crackdown


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear

Svay Rieng provincial police arrested four people last week on charges of disinformation after they were caught distributing pamphlets predicting a third world war and the Earth’s destruction by 2012 or 2014.

Prach Rim, Svay Rieng provincial police chief, said the four people were arrested in Svay Rieng city on December 1, and were distributing photocopies of a hand-written document predicting world destruction.

“One man said that he got the tract from an old woman at the market, but he did not recognize the woman’s face and then the other people who saw it asked him to make photocopies,” said Prach Rim.

He said provincial police were educating villagers about not believing in this kind of superstition and told them no wars or destruction were imminent.

Prach Rim said provincial police were searching for the person who wrote the pamphlet, and would release the four arrested people after educating them.

Two arrested for steel theft


A boy walks along a railway track in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district in August of this year. Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 Thet Sambath

POLICE have arrested two men suspected of stealing about one tonne of railway steel from a regularly used train track that connects Kampot province to Phnom Penh, police said yesterday.

Sam Uk, Teuk Chhou district police chief, said the two men were arrested on Friday while allegedly transporting the steel by truck through the district.

“They are destroying state property. They are thieves because they took the railway’s steel to sell,” he said.

“Their actions would cause many thousands of people to be killed in a train accident if a train arrived here.”

The two suspects – Prum Hean, 35, and Prum On, 20 – claimed they had not been involved in stealing the steel and had merely been hired by someone else to transport it, Sam Uk said.

“They pointed at others as they claim they were hired to transport this steel,” he said. “We are investigating [to see if] more people are responsible for this problem.”

He said the two suspects had been sent to the provincial court for questioning.

Officials at the court could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The 117-kilometre Kampot to Phnom Penh railway stretch – originally built in 1969 – reopened for freight on October 21, with provisional plans to add a passenger service at a later date.

The stretch, restored as part of a multi-million-dollar project to rejuvenate the Kingdom’s railways, was the first section to be reopened.

So Chea, Kampot provincial deputy governor, said he did not have information about the arrest, but called for those responsible for stealing the railway steel to receive a heavy sentence.

“They should be punished seriously according to the law because this is state property and for all people to use,” he said.

US ambassador talks WikiLeaks with govt


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 James O'Toole

UNITED States Ambassador Carol Rodley met with Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Friday to discuss the massive leak of American diplomatic cables, including hundreds from the US embassy in Phnom Penh, to the website WikiLeaks.

Khieu Kanharith said in an email yesterday that the ambassador had pledged to cooperate closely with the government in the event that sensitive information is disclosed by WikiLeaks.

“The US Government won’t confirm nor deny the authenticity of any documents released by WikiLeaks but the US ambassador is ready to have a private meeting with any member of the [government] if there are any documents relating to Cambodia deemed to create confusion,” Khieu Kanharith said.

“For my part, I consider the opinion expressed by any American diplomat is not the official American administration’s stance.”

WikiLeaks claims to have more than 250,000 American foreign policy documents in its possession, including 777 diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Phnom Penh. The website has pledged to release the documents gradually over the next few months, and only a few hundred have been made public so far.

In a cable released last week, former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is quoted discussing the close ties between the Kingdom and China.

“Within hours, everything that is discussed in ASEAN meetings is known in Beijing, given China’s close ties with Laos, Cambodia and Burma,” the cable states, quoting Lee.

The Singaporean embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the cable but condemned the WikiLeaks disclosures.

“The selective release of documents, especially when taken out of context, will only serve to sow confusion and fail to provide a complete picture of the important issues that were being discussed amongst leaders in the strictest of confidentiality,” the embassy said in an emailed statement.

CWC head visits VN border site


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

The Cambodian Watchdog Council, led Rong Chhun, yesterday accused Vietnam of encroaching upon Cambodian territory after a visit to the border in Kampong Cham province.

“The authorities allowed us to visit the border and when we entered, we saw it confirmed the complaint people raised about post No109. It is planted about 200 metres on our Khmer land,” Rong Chhun said.

Rong Chhun had announced the border visit last month to investigate local allegations brought by about 260 people from Da commune that the October planting of border post 109 resulted in a transfer of territory in Memot district to Vietnam.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, said yesterday the designation of the border took place under French rule.

He confirmed that the border post had been planted on land that farmers worked, but said it was placed correctly.

“That location will not be changed. It is actually planted on people’s farmland. Villagers’ farmland was just farmed recently. As for the border post, it was demarcated during the French era,” Var Kimhong said.

Rong Chhun’s visit followed plans by the Sam Rainsy Party to travel to the area.

“Issues of territorial integrity are a national issue. And each people’s representative has an obligation to go and defend the national interest,” Yim Sovann said during an announcement of the border trip last month.

Analysis: Comeback prince faces uphill fight


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 14:02 Sebastian Strangio and Meas Sokchea

IN announcing his return to politics, former prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has again raised hopes of a rebirth for the country’s downtrodden and divided royalist movement.

Speaking to about 500 supporters in Kampong Cham province on Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said he would soon return to head the Nationalist Party, which plans this month to re-adopt its old name, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, to mark the occasion.

But after more than two years out of the game – Ranariddh announced his retirement in October 2008, after returning from a period of self-exile – observers say the former royalist figurehead faces significant obstacles, both in uniting his own camp and in re-establishing his political credentials.

The Prince’s announcement caps off a period of uncertainty for the royalists, in which he was courted by representatives of both the NP/NRP and Funcinpec, which expelled him in 2006 after he was accused of embezzling party funds. Announcing his return to politics on Saturday, Ranariddh chose to side with the NP/NRP, the breakaway party he formed after his expulsion.

In his remarks to supporters, he came out swinging, accusing his former Funcinpec party colleagues of selling out to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in exchange for “rotten posts” in government and other personal benefits. He issued appeals for Funcinpec members to decamp and join the NP/NRP.

The Prince also struck a confrontational pose in relation to the CPP, accusing National Assembly President Heng Samrin and his deputy Nguon Nhel of restricting debate in parliament. His new promise is to take a centrist stance, speaking out on government policies from a neutral standpoint.

It’s been a while since the royalists acted as a true opposition, with Funcinpec having long accommodated itself to its powerful coalition partner in exchange for a role – however minimal – in government.

Son Soubert, a political observer and former member of the Constitutional Council, said Funcinpec had devolved into a CPP “mouthpiece” used to maintain a fa├žade of democratic diversity in government, and that a fresh approach from the royalists would benefit the country.

“If Prince Ranariddh is willing to positively criticise the government, it’s a good thing,” said Son Soubert. “It’s best if the royalists stick to their ideals. Otherwise it’s hopeless.”

Awkward timing
But Ranariddh’s announcement may be ill-timed for the rest of the royalist camp. Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party have embarked on an ambitious plan to reunite ahead of the 2013 elections in a bid to put the past divisions behind them.

The parties have so far engaged in months of talks, which have become snagged on issues of what the new party should be called and how plum posts should be divided up among the parties’ powerbrokers.

Though Ranariddh remains committed to the merger plan, he said Funcinpec President Keo Puth Reaksmey and Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay no longer had the support of the people.

These criticisms threaten to reopen old wounds. Whether Ranariddh can reunify the royalists without his former comrades – by force of personality and principal alone – remains to be seen.

“I still don’t believe these personalities can be reconciled,” Son Soubert said, referring to the Funcinpec leadership. “It’s better for Prince Ranariddh to keep his own agenda and see what he can do for the rest of the country.”

Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcinpec’s second deputy president, downplayed the Prince’s comments, saying the two parties would continue to meet to discuss the merger plan.

“In politics, people try to bring about a better image for themselves by criticising others,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about that.”

In either case, the Prince faces an uphill battle. Since he led Funcinpec to a stunning victory in the UN-backed 1993 elections, clinching 58 of the National Assembly’s 123 seats, the party’s fortunes have soured. Its electoral returns dropped from 43 seats in 1998 to 26 seats in 2003. In 2008, the two royalist parties claimed just four seats between them.

“He’s lost all the momentum,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“I think it will be much more difficult for him to come back this way. Coming back will only succeed if something dramatic happens to propel him back into politics.”

Cheam Yeap, a senior CPP lawmaker, said he welcomed the Prince’s return to political life, saying he could aid and advise the ruling party, but dismissed his accusations the government had gagged parliamentary debate.

“The internal rules are not the law, they are just rules for parliamentarians,” Cheam Yeap said.

Ranariddh, like his father, former King Norodom Sihanouk, may not be able to resist the lure of the limelight – “doing politics is the same as being addicted to opium,” he admitted to supporters on the weekend – but whether his appeal strikes a chord will have to wait until commune council elections scheduled for 2012.

“We never know,” Son Soubert said. “It depends on the Cambodian people.”

NGOs call for more aid to rail evictees


via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 21:03 Sebastian Strangio

A COALITION of local rights groups yesterday called on international donors bankrolling the Kingdom’s railway refurbishment scheme to do more to help those residents displaced by the project.

The rail project, which is being supported by the Asian Development Bank and AusAID, the Australian government’s development agency, came under scrutiny last month, when two children drowned at a site for resettled residents.

In a statement yesterday, the coalition, which includes Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, the Housing Rights Task Force and urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said while the agencies had made positive changes at the sites, efforts remained “inadequate”.

“People who have been resettled thus far have been unable to rebuild adequate housing and reestablish their lives and livelihoods to a minimum acceptable standard without going into significant debt,” read the statement, which came following meetings between NGO representatives and donors on Friday.

The statement argued that the ADB-funded refurbishment of National Road 1, which began in 1999, demonstrated that poor resettlement policies and inadequate compensation plans could trigger a “downward spiral into deeper poverty” for those affected.

“Over a decade after the project was first started, the ADB is still compensating those adversely affected,” it added. “We do not want to see these mistakes repeated.”

Concerns about the resettlement policy came to a head last month after Hut Heap, 13, and her nine-year-old brother Hut Hoeub drowned in a pond at a Battambang relocation site.

After the incident, NGOs wrote to the heads of the ADB and AusAID, expressing “grave concerns” about the treatment of resettled residents.

Nora Lindstrom, an adviser for STT, said relocated households had been offered differing amounts of compensation in accordance with an ADB resettlement plan.

However, the ADB’s estimated costs for building materials were set at 2006 levels, she said, meaning that many families were left with just a few hundred dollars to construct new dwellings, even once living allowances were included.

Many people ended up going into debt in order to reestablish their homes and businesses at the new site.

“They end up borrowing a lot of money at really hefty interest rates,” Lindstrom said.

David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said in the statement that donors should commit additional resources towards ensuring that the poor are “not forced to pay the price of development”.

Rights groups claim as many as 4,000 households are set to be affected by the rail project.

In a statement on Thursday, the ADB said issues at resettlement sites were being “actively addressed” through dialogue with the government’s Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee.

“ADB’s position is to ensure compliance with the ADB safeguard policy by providing additional support to the government agencies concerned,” it stated.

Electricity has been installed at the Battambang site since September, the ADB said, adding that all relocated families also have access to subsidised drinking water through the IRC.

In total, the ADB has approved $84 million in loans for the railway project, with AusAID contributing an additional $21.5 million. The project, which will rehabilitate lines connecting Kampot to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh to Battambang, is set to be completed by 2013.

Firm plans cashew shell out


Cashew nuts, tipped for Cambodian success, are displayed at a store in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district yesterday. Pha Lina

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA’S first cashew nut processing plant could help create jobs in rural areas and give a welcome boost to a growing industry.

Cambodia’s Mekong Rain Natural is set to invest US$5 million to build the plant, which it hopes will start production in March next year.

The plan has been welcomed by the government and industry insiders, who say it would help grow the industry and create jobs.

That view is supported by a new study from the International Finance Corporation, which found that local processing could boost the industry by an additional $30 million to $40 million a year.

Andrew McNaughton, chief executive officer of Mekong Rain Natural, which buys from nearly 4,000 farmers, said the company decided to invest in the plant because of the good quality of Cambodian cashew nuts and a recent increase in production capacity.

The company recently launched a small pilot plant for processing organic cashew nuts, set to be marketed in Phnom Penh.

The full-scale plant would produce 2,000 tonnes of processed cashews in the first year, increasing to up to 10,000 tonnes per year in the future.

“We are happy to be contributing to the economic development in the rural areas of Cambodia,” said McNaughton.

He added that the price of raw cashews was fluctuating from between 3,000 riel to 4,500 riel per kilogram, while processed nuts would sell for about $8 per kg. The main export markets are Europe, America, China and India.

Cambodia currently produces about 60,000 tonnes of in-shell cashews a year, or 3 percent of the world’s supply, making it the 11th largest producer, according to cashew nut trade specialist James Fitzpatick of Ingredient Sourcing Solutions. The average quality of Cambodian cashews in the 2009 to 2010 season ranked fifth out of the world’s eleven top producers.

Phok Sovanrith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the government wanted the industry expand because it would help poorer farmers earn more income. “More local processing would also create jobs in rural areas such as harvesting, shelling, and packing cashews for export,” he said.

Improved farming techniques are also aiding yields.

President of cashew nut association in Kampong Thom province, Kim Theang, who has been planting since 1989, said that better methodology was increasing harvests, which have in the past been popular with Vietnamese buyers.

Port on track to surpass 2010 traffic goal


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

FREIGHT transported through Phnom Penh Autonomous Port was up 45 percent for first 11 months of this year, compared to the same period of last year.

Statistics from the port show 57,089 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) were transported through the facility between January and November this year, up 44.73 percent from 39,443 TEUs for the same period last year.

Hy Pavy, director general of Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, told The Post yesterday the increase was due to a rise in both exports and imports of garments, agricultural products, construction materials and textiles.

He said the port was on track to surpass its goal of transporting 62,500 TEUs in 2010, predicting it would reach around 63,000 TEUs by the end of December.

Another boost to the growth in freight was the recent cooperation with Vietnam’s Cai Mep port, he said. The port’s statistics showed a rise in the number of containers to and from Vietnam’s Cai Mep port – to about 5,078 TEUs for November this year, up from 3,795 TEUs in the same month of last year.

“Now transportation through Phnom Penh port is not low like before because we have more cooperative partners,” said Hy Pavy.

Phnom Penh Autonomous Port signed a new joint cooperation agreement with Cai Mep’s operator, Vietnamese Saigon Newport Corporation, on November 6 to create additional links to Vietnamese ports, including a twice weekly shipping service.

ADB provides $15m to help financial sector development


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 Catherine James

THE Asian Development Bank has approved a further US$15 million in funding for the Cambodian government’s five-year plan for financial sector reform.

Asian Development Bank’s Senior Country Economist for Cambodia Peter Brimble told the Post yesterday that the majority of the $15 million funding would go towards general budgetary support for the Kingdom’s government to achieve reforms laid out in the National Strategic and Development Plan.

In a statement, which was released on Friday, the ADB said that the key aims of the program included steps to improve cheque clearance and settlement among banks and the government, regulations to guide interbank transactions, help for microfinance institutions to comply with new deposit-taking requirements, and improved prudential supervision of banks and MFIs.

Specific projects which were earmarked for funding included a new integrated accounting system at the National Bank of Cambodia, the ADB statement said.

The ADB’s board of directors approved the move late last week, bringing its total funding for the programme to around $45 million.

The latest $15 million tranche is made up of a $10 million loan under a 24-year term of 1 percent interest per year or 1.5 percent interest at balance of the term, and a $5 million grant.

According to the organisation’s website, further loans of $15 million per year and technical assistance grants of up to $800,000 been proposed for at least the next three years.

The National Strategic and Development Plan, which runs from 2006 to 2010, is part of the government’s broader Financial Sector Development Strategy.

That strategy was drafted with the ADB’s assistance in 2001 and updated in 2007.

The ADB claimed in its statement that the program, since 2007, was responsible for the creation of over 12,000 jobs in the Kingdom, the opening of over 980 bank and MFI branches, and new and increased loans of more than $1.5 billion.

The National Bank of Cambodia, which is the executing agency for the program, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Slide continues for mobile providers


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 Steve Finch

THE latest third-quarter results for Cambodia’s struggling mobile phone sector showed the situation for many continues to go from bad to worse.

First TeliaSonera, the parent company of Star-Cell, wrote down more than US$100 million of goodwill on its Cambodia operations. Then at the end of last month Axiata did the same to the tune of $15.7 million for its subsidiary Hello.

Meanwhile Vimpelcom, the operator of Beeline, continued to struggle over the same period, according to financial results. Posting quarterly results that were “below expectations”, Beeline said it was confident that its Cambodian business “will be on track by the end of the year”.

So far this year, however, Beeline has increasingly struggled. Recording just $3.5 average revenue per user in the first quarter, already a staggeringly low rate even for Asia, Beeline’s ARPU was down again to just $3.2. By comparison, in Kyrgyzstan the firm generated $5.6 per user and $4.1 in Uzbekistan, the next lowest performers for Vimpelcom.

This data suggests that Cambodia’s fickle mobile-phone users continue to switch between operators for the best deals, leaving firms here amongst the lowest revenues per user in the world.

As a result, profitability for most companies in the sector remains a distant dream.

More worrying perhaps for Beeline – and certainly more confusing for the market – are the companies user numbers which showed a near-4 percent decline in subscribers, but which contradict official government data.

Beeline reported in its official results that it had some 505,000 users in the third quarter, which represented a decrease on the 525,000 users announced for the second quarter. However, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications reported that Beeline had less than half this number of active SIM cards in the second quarter at just 256,542 users. The ministry has not released third-quarter figures.

Just how bad are Beeline’s user numbers? Well, we don’t know. Socheata Nhem, head of public relations at Beeline, declined to discuss the discrepancy yesterday and General Director Gael Campan was unavailable for comment.

Whatever the real scenario, Beeline was sixth in the mobile market during first quarter, according to government figures, and seventh in the second quarter. It’s another sign Beeline is struggling in Cambodia’s hyper-competitive mobile phone sector. And looking at third-quarter figures released by other firms, it is certainly not alone.

Q3 Beeline revenues disappoint


via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 20:51 Ellie Dyer

THIRD quarter results for mobile operator Beeline fell “below expectations”, according to its parent company Vimpelcom, after the provider saw revenues slide about 10 percent during a three-month period.

Operating revenue, income and average revenue per user, all declined from the second to the third quarter this year, according to statistics released late last week by Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom – which operates in both Vietnam and Cambodia.

In South-East Asia, Vimpelcom saw declines across the board. Vietnamese operations were not included in its financial results, according to a statement accompanying the data.

Operating revenue fell around 10 percent quarter on quarter, from US$5.5 million to $5 million. Operating income, before depreciation and amortization, fell around 8.6 percent from a loss of $8.1 million in the second quarter, to a loss of $8.8 million in the third quarter.

ARPU shrunk for the third successive quarter, reaching $3.2 per user, from $3.4 in quarter two and $3.5 in quarter one.

Subscriber numbers slipped to 505,000 from 525,000.

The statistics, however, did show a stark improvement when compared to Vimpelcom’s regional operations a year earlier – soon after its May launch of Beeline Cambodia.

In the third quarter of 2009, its South East Asian operating revenue was just $2.4 million while operating loss, before depreciation and amortization, was $13.2 million.

Despite the results, Vimpelcom remained positive about Beeline’s future in the market it described as having an “adverse regulatory context”.

“Although the quarterly results were slightly below our expectations, we are confident that our business in Cambodia will be on track by the end of the year,” a report accompanying the statistics stated.

A Beeline spokeswomen declined to comment yesterday. Emailed requests to company officials went unanswered.

Globally, Vimpelcom’s operating revenues grew 6.9 percent quarter on quarter to $2.824 billion. Its net income rose 48.2 percent in quarter three, to $495.9 million. The group is currently seeking a $6.5 billion merger with Orascom Telecom Holding and Weather Investments.

The companies have yet to sign a final agreement to create the world’s fifth largest mobile-phone company, as Orascom tries to resolve a dispute with the Algerian government over its local unit, Djezzy.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BLOOMBERG

Peruvian Vilchez ends Phon Phanna's win streak


Peruvian Vilchez ends Phon Phanna's win streak

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

Former Peruvian champion Frank Erick Paredes Vilchez battle undefeated Koh Kong sensation Phon Phanna to a draw on Saturday at the TV3 boxing arena, ending the Smach Meanchey native’s 12-month winning streak.

Marring the Koh Kong fighter’s perfect year, however, came as little consolation to the 25-year-old light-welterweight from Lima.

“To win is better,” he said, lines of blood and sweat a painful flourish to his unsatisfied expression.

Phon Phanna has appeared lacklustre since narrowly outpointing Van Chanvey in a grueling five-round brawl in August.

On Saturday, the 23-year-old from Koh Kong once again displayed the ring skill that has made him unbeatable over the last year.

He scored with a spinning back elbow to open round three, followed by half a dozen more elbows in the clinch. But the explosions were sort lived, and the Lima native never appeared in trouble.

Vilchez came battling back in the fourth, adjusting in the clinch and scoring with knees to the head. As the round came to a close, the only sounds inside the packed TV3 arena came from a small but noisy crowd of gamblers rooting for a big underdog payday.

Phon Phanna cut Vilchez with an elbow late in the fifth, and as referee Meas Sokry stopped the fight to wipe away the blood, Phon Phanna smiled and stabbed a glove into the air.

The crowd, the judges and the Peruvian thought otherwise.

Izadi surprised at decision loss
In the co-feature, Heng Samrang outworked Iranian welterweight Masood Izadi to score s victory decision.

“I’m confused,” said a visibly stunned Izadi, who climbed onto the ropes and pumped his fists into the air after the fight. “In Thailand, I win that fight. I blocked every kick. He scored nothing.”

Despite a solid defensive outing, judges likely gave the victory to Battambang’s Heng Samrang because of Isazi’s lack of offence.

Hem Bunting cuts it in Half


Crowds cheer on a couple of athletic parents as they push home one of the youngest and least aware participants in yesterday’s Angkor Wat Half Marathon in Siem Reap. MEAS SARETH

via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Cambodia’s long distance pride and joy Hem Bunting left behind his Guangzhou Asian Games infractions to stay superbly focused on winning the 15th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon around the historic terrains of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap yesterday.

A seasoned marathoner all his adult life, the SEA Games silver and bronze medalist toyed with a field of nearly three thousand, setting a tempo that was too hot to handle for amateur runners drawn from 53 countries.

Smoothly taking charge within the first few of the 21 kilometres, Hem Bunting was cruising along comfortably by the half way stage. With less than five kilometres to go, he stepped up the pace to forge a sizeable lead which he maintained right up to the finish, clocking an impressive time of 1 hour 10 minutes 11 seconds.

Evan Fox of the United States worked his way ahead of the chasing pack to take the runners-up berth with a time of 1:15.55, just a shade ahead of Japan’s Neko Hiroshi who took the remaining podium place.

“It wasn’t easy. I was concentrating on sustaining my pace [rather] than looking back as to see who is closest to me,” said Hem Bunting, who is currently facing the wrath of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia for his alleged unsportsmanlike conduct in the recent Asian Games held in Guangzhou.

The men’s 10km event was a close affair with Sya Wath of Laos checking in seconds faster than Alex van der Meer of Ireland to grab the top prize. The light-framed Laotian runner timed 32 minutes 13 seconds to keep the Irishman at bay, with Australia’s Leigh Vial close behind for third.

The women’s half marathon was won with a measure of comfort by Japan’s Satoko Uejani in 1:22.31, four minutes clear of Vivian Tang of Singapore and seven minutes ahead of Australia’s Heather Danks.

In sharp contrast, the women’s 10km provided a thrilling tussle between the tall and well built Leng Leng Koh of Singapore and the compact frame of New Zealander Tanya Randall. With nothing between them going in the final three kilometres, Koh dug deep to break away and end up finishing a minute faster than Randall.

Athletes with disabilites race
Meanwhile yesterday in the 10km run for men with a leg disability, Sam Mao, Nhork Kimlov and Ung Vatana filled the top three spots, while Meas Kim Sang, Lun Kamsal and Chhim Channy were first home respectively in the 10km run for men with a hand disability.

The 21km wheelchair race was won with something in reserve by Cambodian champion Van Vun. Pov Sophal and Oun Sophal completed the podium.

The 10km event for women with a leg disability saw Sok Chamroeun triumph ahead of Euch Vun and Chhoeung Mach. Na Vath edged Pi Sey in their women’s 10km wheelchair match race.

Though the day went by generally incident-free there were a couple of health scares, most notably when a runner from New Zealand collapsed close to the finishing line with apparent exhaustion. However, a medical unit was at hand to quickly stretcher him off to a waiting ambulance.

A bit of jostling before the start of the 3km Fun Run resulted in two participants knocking down an elderly woman, although she was helped to her feet quickly enough. A committed mother of three managed to complete the fun run with a baby on her back and two in a stroller to the appreciation of the crowd.

Another a huge roar went up when two parents raced over the finish line pushing a stroller with their son fast asleep.

Runners dress to impress
Various costumes were donned for the 10km race, including animal outfits featuring a bear, a monkey, a tiger, a bison and an elephant.

Two teachers from Phnom Penh made their own fashion statements in grass skirts and feathered caps.

Meanwhile, Camille Chai, who works for a French NGO in Phnom Penh and was born with a disabled arm and leg, cheered her boyfriend, her Canadian mother and her Cambodian father to the finish line. Chai then confirmed her determination to race next year.

Capping off the collection was an elderly man fitted with a pace maker. “It sets the pace for me,” he said.

The annual athletics event around Angkor Wat helps raise funds for people with artificial limbs and contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Jointly organised by the Khmer Amateur Athletic Federation, the NOCC and the Angkor Wat Half Marathon Organising Committee, with active support from several private organisations and NGOs, the 15th edition attracted a record number of entries with participating nations up from 47 last year to 53.

Arimori honoured at feast
On Saturday evening, the organisers served a delicious cultural feast at a fund-raising gala dinner in the Angkor temple complex for a select gathering of around 300 people.

Japan’s Olympic marathon icon Yuko Arimori took centre stage when she was honoured with the prestigious Monisaraphoan Moha Sena medal for her outstanding contribution over the years in promoting the half marathon in her role as Representative Director of local NGO Hearts of Gold. A yellow sash pinned with the medal was presented to her by the Tourism Minister and NOCC President Thong Khon.

Yuko Arimori is a household name in Japan, not only for her exploits as an Olympian with a marathon bronze and silver medal at the Barcelona and Atlanta Games respectively in the 1990s, but for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations. The Japanese marathoner was also honoured by the International Olympic Committee for her career achievements.

After running in the inaugural half marathon, she jumped to the organisational front in successive editions. “She has been part and parcel of every half marathon in the last 14 years,” said Thong Khon in his appreciation address.

Arimori recalled her humble beginnings as a distance runner, and how her passion lead her to success.

“I had no choice,” she told the Post yesterday. “I had no speed, I wasn’t so strong, but I loved to run and run and run, and marathon suited me fine.

“I am me when I run – that’s me. I feel elevated. I feel confident of myself. I am of the firm opinion that women can build their confidence and drive away self doubt by taking up distance running. It’s good for health and it’s good for life.”

Cultural entertainment
A group of traditional Apsara dancers entertained the crowd, while a 14-member group of Japanese drummers came up with a spell-binding rendition of Japan’s traditional Taiko, a rhythmic offering to appease the Gods for prosperity and good health.

But the loudest cheers of the evening was reserved for a Japanese professional female wrestler when she plied one of the tricks of her trade on none other than NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun, himself a former wrestler of repute. After introducing her to the gathering, the sports official had a shock in store as he was flung with effortless ease over the pro wrestler’s shoulder and brought down with a thud to a thunderous round of applause. H S Manjunath

Cambodia’s long distance pride and joy Hem Bunting left behind his Guangzhou Asian Games infractions to stay superbly focused on winning the 15th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon around the historic terrains of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap yesterday.

A seasoned marathoner all his adult life, the SEA Games silver and bronze medalist toyed with a field of nearly three thousand, setting a tempo that was too hot to handle for amateur runners drawn from 53 countries.

Smoothly taking charge within the first few of the 21 kilometres, Hem Bunting was cruising along comfortably by the half way stage. With less than five kilometres to go, he stepped up the pace to forge a sizeable lead which he maintained right up to the finish, clocking an impressive time of 1 hour 10 minutes 11 seconds.

Evan Fox of the United States worked his way ahead of the chasing pack to take the runners-up berth with a time of 1:15.55, just a shade ahead of Japan’s Neko Hiroshi who took the remaining podium place.

“It wasn’t easy. I was concentrating on sustaining my pace [rather] than looking back as to see who is closest to me,” said Hem Bunting, who is currently facing the wrath of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia for his alleged unsportsmanlike conduct in the recent Asian Games held in Guangzhou.

The men’s 10km event was a close affair with Sya Wath of Laos checking in seconds faster than Alex van der Meer of Ireland to grab the top prize. The light-framed Laotian runner timed 32 minutes 13 seconds to keep the Irishman at bay, with Australia’s Leigh Vial close behind for third.

The women’s half marathon was won with a measure of comfort by Japan’s Satoko Uejani in 1:22.31, four minutes clear of Vivian Tang of Singapore and seven minutes ahead of Australia’s Heather Danks.

In sharp contrast, the women’s 10km provided a thrilling tussle between the tall and well built Leng Leng Koh of Singapore and the compact frame of New Zealander Tanya Randall. With nothing between them going in the final three kilometres, Koh dug deep to break away and end up finishing a minute faster than Randall.

Athletes with disabilites race
Meanwhile yesterday in the 10km run for men with a leg disability, Sam Mao, Nhork Kimlov and Ung Vatana filled the top three spots, while Meas Kim Sang, Lun Kamsal and Chhim Channy were first home respectively in the 10km run for men with a hand disability.

The 21km wheelchair race was won with something in reserve by Cambodian champion Van Vun. Pov Sophal and Oun Sophal completed the podium.

The 10km event for women with a leg disability saw Sok Chamroeun triumph ahead of Euch Vun and Chhoeung Mach. Na Vath edged Pi Sey in their women’s 10km wheelchair match race.

Though the day went by generally incident-free there were a couple of health scares, most notably when a runner from New Zealand collapsed close to the finishing line with apparent exhaustion. However, a medical unit was at hand to quickly stretcher him off to a waiting ambulance.

A bit of jostling before the start of the 3km Fun Run resulted in two participants knocking down an elderly woman, although she was helped to her feet quickly enough. A committed mother of three managed to complete the fun run with a baby on her back and two in a stroller to the appreciation of the crowd.

Another a huge roar went up when two parents raced over the finish line pushing a stroller with their son fast asleep.

Runners dress to impress
Various costumes were donned for the 10km race, including animal outfits featuring a bear, a monkey, a tiger, a bison and an elephant.

Two teachers from Phnom Penh made their own fashion statements in grass skirts and feathered caps.

Meanwhile, Camille Chai, who works for a French NGO in Phnom Penh and was born with a disabled arm and leg, cheered her boyfriend, her Canadian mother and her Cambodian father to the finish line. Chai then confirmed her determination to race next year.

Capping off the collection was an elderly man fitted with a pace maker. “It sets the pace for me,” he said.

The annual athletics event around Angkor Wat helps raise funds for people with artificial limbs and contributes to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Jointly organised by the Khmer Amateur Athletic Federation, the NOCC and the Angkor Wat Half Marathon Organising Committee, with active support from several private organisations and NGOs, the 15th edition attracted a record number of entries with participating nations up from 47 last year to 53.

Arimori honoured at feast
On Saturday evening, the organisers served a delicious cultural feast at a fund-raising gala dinner in the Angkor temple complex for a select gathering of around 300 people.

Japan’s Olympic marathon icon Yuko Arimori took centre stage when she was honoured with the prestigious Monisaraphoan Moha Sena medal for her outstanding contribution over the years in promoting the half marathon in her role as Representative Director of local NGO Hearts of Gold. A yellow sash pinned with the medal was presented to her by the Tourism Minister and NOCC President Thong Khon.

Yuko Arimori is a household name in Japan, not only for her exploits as an Olympian with a marathon bronze and silver medal at the Barcelona and Atlanta Games respectively in the 1990s, but for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations. The Japanese marathoner was also honoured by the International Olympic Committee for her career achievements.

After running in the inaugural half marathon, she jumped to the organisational front in successive editions. “She has been part and parcel of every half marathon in the last 14 years,” said Thong Khon in his appreciation address.

Arimori recalled her humble beginnings as a distance runner, and how her passion lead her to success.

“I had no choice,” she told the Post yesterday. “I had no speed, I wasn’t so strong, but I loved to run and run and run, and marathon suited me fine.

“I am me when I run – that’s me. I feel elevated. I feel confident of myself. I am of the firm opinion that women can build their confidence and drive away self doubt by taking up distance running. It’s good for health and it’s good for life.”

Cultural entertainment
A group of traditional Apsara dancers entertained the crowd, while a 14-member group of Japanese drummers came up with a spell-binding rendition of Japan’s traditional Taiko, a rhythmic offering to appease the Gods for prosperity and good health.

But the loudest cheers of the evening was reserved for a Japanese professional female wrestler when she plied one of the tricks of her trade on none other than NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun, himself a former wrestler of repute. After introducing her to the gathering, the sports official had a shock in store as he was flung with effortless ease over the pro wrestler’s shoulder and brought down with a thud to a thunderous round of applause.

Veteran golfers play tourney in Siem Reap


via CAAI

Monday, 06 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

The Asian Seniors Tour comes to the picturesque Siem Reap Lake Resort Golf Club for a four-day golf fest that includes the main course Asian Senior Masters tournament teeing off Wednesday and a two-day pro-am event as an appetizer beginning today. A major incentive for those on the course over the next couple of days will be qualification berths into the Deputy Prime Minister’s Cup, which runs concurrently with the Senior Masters, on offer for the top nine gross scores.

Siem Reap in the spotlight


Photo by: Will Baxter

via CAAI

Friday, 03 December 2010 15:02 Will Baxter

A cyclist is illuminated by headlights while riding through the Angkor temple complex in Siem Reap province. The Ministry of Tourism has estimated that the number of tourists visiting Cambodia will jump to about 6 million annually by the year 2020. And inevitably Siem Reap, with its World Heritage-listed temples, clean air and cheap hotel rooms, will be at the top of most tourists’ lists. WILL BAXTER

Ranariddh returns to politics


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prince Norodom Ranariddh talks to reporters in Kampong Cham province after announcing his return to politics as head of Nationalist Party, on Saturday.

via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 18:39 Meas Sokchea

KAMPONG CHAM PROVINCE

FORMER prime minister and political heavyweight Prince Norodom Ranariddh has announced his return to political life, raising hopes of a resurrection in the fortunes of the Kingdom’s moribund royalist movement.

Speaking to more than 500 supporters in Kampong Cham province on Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said he would soon return to head the Nationalist Party, which plans to re-adopt its old name, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, at a party congress this week.

“I am preparing myself to lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” he said. “Doing politics is the same as being addicted to opium, but what is important is that there have been a lot of petitions inviting me to lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party,” he added.

Ranariddh, who retired from politics in October 2008, hurled criticism at his former Funcinpec party colleagues, accusing them of selling themselves to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in exchange for government posts and other personal benefits.

He said he had rejected appeals for him to return to the party, which removed him as its president in 2006, and called on all royalist supporters to gather under the NP/NRP umbrella.

“Please members of Funcinpec, come back to me. What is the importance of rotten posts!” he said. “I will not return to Funcinpec, because Funcinpec is just a party serving [the CPP].”

The Prince’s return could throw the ailing royalist movement into further disarray, with plans for a merger between the NP/NRP and Funcinpec now in progress. Since 2006, when Ranariddh was removed from his post as Funcinpec party president in connection with claims he embezzled party funds, the royalist movement has stagnated.

The two royalist parties won only four seats at the 2008 national elections and a merger plan, more than a year in the making, is seen as the key to reviving their fortunes.

Ranariddh said yesterday that he was still committed to the merger, but that Funcinpec’s secretary general, Nhek Bun Chhay, and Keo Puth Reaksmey, its president, no longer had the support of the people.

He also promised to take a centrist approach to politics, pledging not to support or criticise the government on any subject without good reason. As an example, he lashed out at National Assembly President Heng Samrin and his deputy Nguon Nhel, criticising them for stamping out freedom of expression in the parliament.

“When I was president, Sam Rainsy insulted me, and I allowed him to talk freely,” Ranariddh said, referring to the head of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Local supporters of Ranariddh hailed the announcement on Saturday, expressing hopes that Ranariddh, who served as “first” prime minister from 1993 until 1997, would again lead the country.

“I came here to invite the Prince to lead the NRP because he has done a lot to build the country,” said Seng Kuo, 62, from Pea Raing district, in nearby Prey Veng province.

Nhem Sophy, a 40-year-old supporter from Kang Meas district, said other parties had “badly treated” the people. “I hope that he will lead well if he is elected,” she said.

Koh Pich toll rises


via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 20:46 Tep Nimol

THE death toll from last month’s Diamond Island stampede has climbed to 353 following the death of a 23-year-old woman from Russey Keo district.

Chhouy Meng, head of the emergency care unit at Calmette Hospital, said yesterday that the victim, Res Marima, had died of organ failure as a result of internal injuries.

“Her condition grew worse and worse and we could not stabilise her,” Chhouy Meng said, adding that roughly 20 other stampede victims were in urgent care at Calmette.

Russey Keo deputy governor Ly Rosami said Res Marima, a Cham Muslim, was buried yesterday in the district’s Chroy Changvar commune. Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has offered US$2,000 to the victim’s family, Ly Rosami added, in addition to the five million riels ($1,226) compensation promised by the government.

Res Marima’s death brings the toll from the stampede to 353 dead and 393 injured, according to figures provided by a government investigative committee.

The Diamond Gate Bridge, the scene of the disaster, would reopen on Wednesday after closing following the accident, Diamond Island project manager Touch Samnang said yesterday.

Elephant stomps owner to death


via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 20:57 Khouth Sophakchakrya

An elephant named Sambo stomped its 54-year-old owner to death and fled into the jungle in Kampong Speu province’s Mon village, prompting the owner’s family to intervene with authorties to catch the angry beast and remove it to a zoo.

Se Phoeun was killed on Friday when his elephant went on a rampage, trampling him to death and destroying neighbours’ crops.

Yim Neoun, the owner’s wife, said she didn’t know why the elephant attacked her husband, adding that it had killed three other villagers over the last three years.

Mon village chief Eth Mao said the elephant has frightened everyone in the village.

“The elephant is mean and wild. No one dares to chase it because everyone is afraid to be killed,” said Eth Mao, chief of Mon village.

Villagers have called on local authorities to deal with the elephant.

However, the authorities say they are still awaiting instructions on whether to leave the elephant – now hiding in a bamboo forest near Mon village – in the wild or capture it for safe-keeping in a zoo.

Inside the ECCC


Photo by: AFP
In a picture taken on February 17, 2009, French investigating judge at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court, Marcel Lemonde (L), talks to journalists during an interview at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) on February 17, 2009.

via CAAI

Sunday, 05 December 2010 20:35 Emilie Boulenger and James O’Toole

Marcel Lemonde stepped down last week from his position as Co-Investigating Judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Along with his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng, Lemonde was responsible for directing investigation in the tribunal’s first and second cases. After more than four years in the position, Lemonde has been suceeded by German judge Siegfried Blunk and has returned home to France. In written responses to questions submitted by The Post, he discussed his experience at the court and his thoughts on leaving.

What was a typical day for you during the investigation phase?
There would be many meetings. A lot of reading as well. In fact, the day could be very different depending on the tasks of one member of staff or the other. The Office of the Co-Investigating Judges is composed of about 60 people, whose roles are very various and complementary.

While the lawyers were busy, with the help of analysts, examining the evidence, conducting essential legal research to answer the demands of the parties or preparing the text of the Closing Order, investigators were in the field interviewing witnesses or identifying crime sites.

Amongst all this activity, the responsibility of the judges was the ability to distinguish the main issue from the minor and especially to ensure that nobody panicked (as sometimes the risk would arise, given the difficulty of the enterprise).

What do you feel are the greatest successes you had and the greatest challenges you faced?
The simple fact of being able to complete the investigation despite all the obstacles was in itself a huge success. I think one does not always appreciate the tremendous difficulties that we faced.

[Case 002] itself was enormous, extraordinarily complicated and compounded by the structure of the Tribunal, which has a permanent disadvantage since every decision must be discussed, negotiated and formalised jointly; moreover, the context is not always favorable, it is an understatement. If we add to this the need to work in three languages and the fact that the international lawyers from the various sections of the court have different legal backgrounds, we have an idea of the full significance of the result that we achieved.

What was the most personally surprising thing you discovered over the course of the investigation?
I do not know if we can speak of “discovery”, but the reconstruction at Tuol Sleng was particularly memorable. Having [former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav] and former detainees, face to face, on the scene where the events had taken place, was very moving. Indeed, I am sorry that this investigative action was not used more widely during the trial.

What is the status of the investigation in cases 003 and 004, and when do you expect these investigations to be finished?
It is now a question for my successor.

You directed these investigations on your own following a loss of support from You Bunleng, who had initially authorised the investigations. Do you have any idea why You Bunleng withdrew his support? Have you spoken to him about this in any detail beyond what was released publicly in your letters to one another?
Judge You Bunleng publicly explained his position. It is not for me to add anything to his statements, but he may, if he so wishes. As for our exchanges, fortunately, we did not only communicate by official letters! For four and a half years, we discussed matters daily and our few disagreements never had the slightest impact on our personal relationship.

Some observers have floated the possibility of remanding Cases 003 and 004 to national courts as a compromise with the government, which has expressed opposition to these cases. Do you have an opinion on the efficacy of such a move?
In my view, a judicial decision can only be taken by a judge. It will be up to the judges to decide what action to take in the cases before them. This leaves little room for the notion of “compromise”.

Do you feel that the Case 002 defence teams are working to undermine the tribunal?
Obviously I will not comment on the strategy of the defence. However, I can talk about the responsibility that places on commentators. “I have a dream”: I dream that one day we will read positive comments on the extremely difficult work that has been done at this tribunal and we will be reminded that the judgment of the Khmer Rouge leaders constitutes a historic moment, that no one would have imagined 10 years ago.

I have a dream that it will be possible to stop talking about this court in an exclusively negative way, as if the only thing to remember is that there is corruption in Cambodia or that some politician or other makes inflammatory and legally incorrect speeches.

Were you surprised by the allegations from your former staffer Wayne Bastin [who said in an affadavit last year that Lemonde had instructed investigators to find more inculpatory than exculpatory evidence]?
Yes.

Is there anything about this particular staff member that would cause him to attack your work or the work of your office?
I do not intend to comment [on] this lamentable episode, except to say that in a few years, all this will seem pretty insignificant.

Do you think we will ultimately see trials in Cases 003 and 004?
I do not know if we will see trials, but I know that that decision is only up to the judges. The co-investigating judges and, possibly, the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber, will have to answer a number of issues: Is the procedure regular? Are the suspects part of “those most responsible”? Is there sufficient evidence against them? And so on.

Other considerations must not contaminate these purely judicial questions. The tribunal must obviously be independent and impartial: of course independent of the Government of Cambodia, as we are reminded regularly, but also independent of the media and NGOs, something we hear less often but is equally important and in no way less difficult.

One selling point for the court has been that it will serve as an example to local jurists and local courts. Have you observed this phenomenon yourself, and do you think it will ultimately hold true?
For more than three years, young Cambodian lawyers have worked daily within the court. It seems obvious to me that they learned something. Also the judges, prosecutors, lawyers have used a new way of working for them. This will leave a legacy, no doubt. But, of course, the rule of law is not built in a day and it will take time to perceive the effects of this influence.

What are the difficulties, or possible advantages, in having trials 30 years after the fact?
The disadvantages are obvious: Some actors or key witnesses are dead, others are elderly, do not remember or do not want to remember (because they are afraid of being victims of reprisals or being prosecuted themselves); whole libraries have been written, all are “pre-judgments,” judges must be able to make independent decisions without being beholden to what has been written previously, while at the same time not being ignorant of it.

That being said, experience shows that the passage of time may also have its advantages: It is now possible to tackle some issues which, some years earlier, would have been taboo. In any case, it is clear for the various actors of the court that a particular responsibility weighs on them: They must renounce the sophisticated pleasures of unnecessary debate and do everything to ensure that justice must finally be done as soon as possible.

Are you satisfied with the court’s caseload of, at most, 10 suspects?
I am not aware of such a decision…. More seriously, a judge does not need to be satisfied or dissatisfied with the number of accused. He must simply apply the law, calmly, meaning independently and impartially.

In this case, the law provides that the Tribunal judges the senior leaders and those most responsible, which is therefore necessarily a small number of people, unlike the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for example, where they also judge those lower down or less responsible.

What do you think will be the legacy of the tribunal?
There are several levels. First, as to the Khmer Rouge regime, the investigative Case File has brought new knowledge and better understanding of what happened. More generally, the judicial process has initiated debate within Cambodian society.

In terms of influence on the functioning of the Cambodian justice system and strengthening the rule of law, it is too early to draw lessons; we are now trying to sow something, which may be reaped in several years.

Finally, with regard to international justice, this court has been a unique experience, which unfortunately could not come to its appointed end because the actors are unfamiliar with the procedural system they are supposed to apply. In addition, some do not have a strong desire to familiarise themselves with this system.

What do you mean when you say it “could not come to its appointed end”?
When I say that “the experience (not “the court”) unfortunately could not come to its appointed end”, I’m thinking of the internal logic of the procedural system. For example, in the Duch trial, the case file was probably not used as efficiently as it could have been.

Where the trial phase is as lengthy as the investigative phase, it means that the system has not been fully applied. The main justification for a written investigation, which is necessarily rather long, is that it allows for the trial to focus on the core issues and therefore results in a more expeditious trial phase.

Much has been made about the dangers of political interference at the tribunal. Is this something you ever observed in the course of your work, and is it a concern for you as the process moves forward?
I can only speak for myself. I defy anyone to show a single decision that I made, which would not have been my own decision, taken freely, in good conscience. More generally speaking, is there any matter for concern? I often had reason to say that it would obviously have been much simpler to organise a purely international trial abroad, but I always added that it would have made no sense for the Cambodian people, who are clearly those most interested.

The condition for this trial to be useful is that it takes place in Cambodia, with the participation of Cambodians. By accepting to come and work in that Court, the international judges have chosen to do whatever they can to demonstrate that it is possible to organise a fair trial, respecting international standards, here in Cambodia. It is more difficult than to easily admit defeat and declare that this would be impossible, but it’s also much more interesting.

What role do you think the court has played in the lives of Cambodians?
30,000 people attended the hearings. This never happened in any other international tribunal, and it is not nothing. The first consequence is that public debate was initiated in Cambodian society, a debate that had never taken place before and which is essential for the future of this country.

Interview by Emilie Boulenger and James O’toole