Join the audience in the trial opposing Sam Rainsy to Hor 5 Hong

Thursday, March 25, 2010


VENEZ AUJOURD'HUI ASSISTER AU PROCES OPPOSANT HOR NAM HONG A SAM RAINSY A PARIS

Ce jeudi 25 mars, à partir de 13 heures, venez nombreux assiter à l'audience de la Cour d'Appel de Paris (Chambre de la Presse) où Sam Rainsy sera confronté avec Hor Nam Hong dans un procès en diffamation intenté par le deuxième contre le premier. Il faut aider la vérité à triompher pour que justice puisse être rendue un jour au peuple cambodgien victime du génocide khmer rouge de 1975 à 1979.

Rendez-vous AUJOURD'HUI, dans la solidarité et la dignité, au Palais de Justice, Ile de la Cité.
Paris 1er - Métro Saint Michel

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Join the audience in the trial opposing Sam Rainsy to Hor 5 Hong

Today, Thursday 25 March, starting from 1PM, come in large number to join the audience at the Paris Appeal Court (Chambre de la Presse) where Sam Rainsy will be confronted by Hor 5 Hong in a defamation lawsuit brought by the latter against Sam Rainsy. The truth shall prevail so that justice can, one day, be rendered to the Cambodian people who were victimized by the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge genocide.

See you Today in solidarity and dignity at the Palais de Justice, Ile de la Cité, Paris 1er, Metro Saint Michel.
READ MORE - Join the audience in the trial opposing Sam Rainsy to Hor 5 Hong

Son of 2-star general Chea Morn arrested … for robbery

2-star General Chea Morn (L) (Photo: Reuters)

26 March 2010
Everyday.com.kh
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Siem Reap provincial authority indicated that Chea Sophal, the son of General Chea Morn, the commander of the army region 4, was arrested by military police on 24 March and sent to the court for sentencing. An anonymous source from the Siem Reap military police indicated that the arrest is related to a robbery that took place 5 years ago in Chong Kaosou village, Slor Kram commune, Siem Reap city. The same source said that he does not know the cause of the robbery, but Chea Sophal was sentenced in absentia to 5 years of jail time for robbery. The source indicated that, following the sentence, Chea Sophal appeal the court decision. On 24 March, Judge Ith Samphos held another trial and in the afternoon of that same day, the judge decided to sentence Chea Sophal to 6-1/2 years of jail time for robbery and illegal use of firearms.
READ MORE - Son of 2-star general Chea Morn arrested … for robbery

hea Dara unfit to be a general of Cambodia?


Chea Dara's wild and baseless claim against Cambodia's opposition party is unbecoming of a RCAF general (Photo: AFP)

Border dispute fomented by groups opposing the Khmer and Thai governments (sic!): Chea Dara

24 March 2010

By Tin Zakariya
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

Click here to read the article in Khmer


A high-ranking RCAF officer, who is currently in charge of the Preah Vihear temple area, accused Cambodia’s opposition and Thailand’s opposition of fomenting the border dispute in Preah Vihear temple that is dragging for more than one year now.

This declaration was made by Chea Dara, the commander of the RCAF zone 4, during a presentation given at the Council of Ministers on border defense by the RCAF on 24 March 2010.

4-golden star General Chea Dara, the RCAF deputy commander-in-chief in charge of the Preah Vihear temple area, said that is was the opposition group to the Cambodian government that fomented problems involving the border dispute in Preah Vihear temple and that this situation lasts until now (sic!).

Chea Dara said: “The CPP resolved several problems and it was successful. Right now, the Cambodian opposition to the CPP, in addition to the Thai group that opposes Cambodia, they push for a handing of the sword to the Thai opposition. Because the Cambodian opposition cannot win the election over the CPP, that’s why they dream this up….

Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, issued an immediate reaction, saying that the SRP does not owe anything to any foreign country, and the SRP does not cooperate with any country to destroy its own country.

Yim Sovann claimed: “We never gave our land to the foreigners, and we never asked for help from any foreign countries, nor do we owe any country. Therefore, we are not getting ourselves involved with any country to destroy Cambodia by giving our land to the foreigner, we never want to do something like that. What we are doing daily is to protect our territories.”

UNESCO decided to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site at the beginning of July 2008, then on 15 July 2008, several hundred of Thai black-clad soldiers invaded a Cambodian pagoda located near Preah Vihear temple and this led to a confrontation between the Cambodian and Thai armies that lasted until now.

Dr. Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), indicated that the army is a neutral institution, i.e. it must not serve any political party.

Hang Puthea said: “The army is a neutral institution for Cambodia, it does not belong to any political party. However, when an official or a [government] employee uses a forum or his position to serve a political party, I think that this could be a problem.”

Yim Sovan also indicated that the opposition MPs never betray the nation, quite to the contrary, the opposition party protects our lands from the border aggression both along the east and west borders. He also asked that high-ranking RCAF officer not be involved in political issues.
READ MORE - hea Dara unfit to be a general of Cambodia?

Montrey Vay Tob - "The beating officials": A Poem in Khmer by Srey Sra'Em

READ MORE - Montrey Vay Tob - "The beating officials": A Poem in Khmer by Srey Sra'Em

CCHR calls on RGC to take action to protect and promote freedom of expression and assembly

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE
Phnom Penh, 25 March 2010
For immediate release

Actions Speak Louder Than Words:
CCHR commends RGC’s acceptance of UPR recommendations, calls on RGC to take action to protect and promote freedom of expression and assembly

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) welcomes the acceptance by the Royal Government of Cambodia (the “RGC”) of all 91 recommendations made by the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council following the Universal Periodic Review (the “UPR”) of Cambodia’s human rights record held in December 2009. The CCHR calls on the RGC to pursue the substantive changes required to implement each of the recommendations it has embraced.

The CCHR draws particular attention to the recommendations made in relation to freedom of expression and assembly. The CCHR and other NGOs made a joint submission to the UPR process in April 2009, which raised serious concerns about the decline of freedom of expression and assembly in Cambodia in recent years (the “Joint Submission”). The UPR Working Group’s Report reflected a number of recommendations made in the Joint Submission. Of particular note is the inclusion of recommendations pertaining to the (1) decriminalization of disinformation and defamation, (2) allowing opposition members to speak freely and (3) reform of the judiciary to make it truly independent.

It is hoped that the RGC’s acceptance of these recommendations signals a change in direction, particularly with respect to freedom of expression and assembly, culminating in changes to law and policy. For example, the CCHR hopes that the RGC heeds the UPR Working Group’s recommendations and makes the necessary amendments to the Penal Code to bring it in line with international standards and ensures that criminal law is not used as a tool to curtail freedom of expression. Similarly, the CCHR hopes that the RGC’s acceptance of the recommendation to respect the freedom of expression of members of the opposition is evidenced by an acceptance of the legitimate role of opposition parties, and an end to the practice of suspending the parliamentary immunity of opposition lawmakers.

The CCHR applauds the engagement of the RGC in the UPR process and trusts that its acceptance of the recommendations are not mere words but will be followed by concrete actions to protect and promote freedom of expression and assembly in Cambodia.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Ou Virak, President, CCHR
Tel: +855 12 404051
Email: ouvirak@cchrcambodia.org
READ MORE - CCHR calls on RGC to take action to protect and promote freedom of expression and assembly

Developments in U.S. Climate Change Policy and the ‘Green Diplomacy’ Initiative

Invitation

On Green Drinks tomorrow, Juhani Platt, the Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer at the US embassy in Phnom Penh, will briefly introduce:

Developments in U.S. Climate Change Policy
and the ‘Green Diplomacy’ Initiative

Most people still have to get used to the US taking a leadership role on green topics. If you want to know the details of the new policies and how it translates to action on the ground, please come. Juhani can also tell us about the green measures that the US embassy in Phnom Penh is taking to reduce its ecological footprint.

Date: 25 March 2010. Starting at 18.00 and you are invited.

Venue: Baitong Restaurant, 1st floor. No. 7, Street 360, BKK1, Phnom Penh (opposite to the international school of Phnom Penh).

Check www.greendrinks.org for more info. Or mail us at greendrinks@kamworks.com. Please note that drinks will be at own expense.

Upcoming drinks are:

25 March 2010 Starting at 18.00
29 April 2010
27 May 2010
24 June 2010
29 July 2010
26 August 2010
30 September 2010
28 October 2010
25 November 2010
30 December 2010

We hope to see you!

Patrick Kooijman and Jeroen Verschelling
Kamworks ltd

phone: +855 99 872220 (direct)
skype: kamworks_jeroenv
@: jeroen@kamworks.com
www.kamworks.com
www.MoonLight-lantern.com

Kamworks: Solar energy for rural electrification

Baitong is located at # 7, Street 360, Sangkat Beoung Keng Kang I, Phnom Penh. Street 360 is opposite the Caltex on Norodom Boulevard (south of the Independence Monument) and is also the home of La Cedre Restaurant and Le Jardin Café. At Baitong, we serve high-quality, healthy and fairly-priced Asian food in a relaxing, natural and modern environment.

We use the finest fresh and organic ingredients, offer friendly and efficient service, and embrace the local community
.
READ MORE - Developments in U.S. Climate Change Policy and the ‘Green Diplomacy’ Initiative

Cambodia: New Regulations Fail Refugees


Source: Human Rights Watch

Revised Procedures Aided Unlawful Return of Uighurs to China

(New York, March 24, 2010) – New Cambodian asylum regulations do not meet Cambodia’s obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen today.

On December 20, 2009, three days after Hun Sen signed new procedures for determining refugee status, the Cambodian government forcibly returned 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers to China in violation of international law. Strikingly, the document outlining the procedures, known as a sub-decree, allows the interior minister to ignore both the procedures and the recommendations on refugee status of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Cambodia’s new regulations allow the government far too much leeway to deny refugee status and to forcibly return people who fear persecution,” said Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch. “And the return of the Uighurs to China three days later raises major doubts about whether Cambodia takes its obligations toward refugees seriously.”

Human Rights Watch said the new regulations would be especially dangerous in politically sensitive cases like those involving the Uighurs, some of whom may now face the death penalty in China.

Human Rights Watch’s letter to Hun Sen provides a point-by-point analysis of the refugee sub-decree and urges him to amend it to bring it into conformity with the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Cambodia is a party. It also urges the Cambodian government to consult with the UN refugee agency to allow it access to all people seeking asylum in Cambodia, and to respect and honor the agency’s exercise of its mandate to recognize and protect refugees in any country, including Cambodia.

To read Human Rights Watch’s letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/node/89303

To read Human Rights Watch's analysis of the Sub-decree on Procedures for Examination, Recognition, and Provision of Refugee or Asylum Status for Aliens in the Kingdom of Cambodia, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/node/89296

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Cambodia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/asia/cambodia

For more information, please contact:

In Washington, Bill Frelick (English): + 1-202-641-4344; +1-240-593-1747 (mobile)
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-917-535-4093 (mobile)
In Washington, Sara Colm (English; Khmer): +301-980-8835
READ MORE - Cambodia: New Regulations Fail Refugees

2010 Cambodian New Year Celebrated In Long Beach


Wednesday, March 24, 2010
By Ashleigh Oldland
Staff Writer
Uptown Gazettes (Long Beach, California, USA)


April marks the beginning of a new year for Cambodians. The angel Mondar Tevy, who wears a flower behind her ear and cat’s eye gemstones around her neck, is said to ride her donkey down to earth and bless the coming year.

In celebration of the 2010 Cambodian New Year, the nonprofit Cambodian Coordinating Council (Cam-CC) is hosting two events, a parade on Sunday, April 4, and a party on Saturday, April 10.

Dan Durke, event coordinator and spokesman for Cam-CC, said the sixth annual Cambodian New Year Parade on Anaheim Street from Junipero Avenue to MacArthur Park, will feature between 70 and 100 parade entries. Marking the beginning of the Year of the Tiger, the procession starts at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Junipero and Anaheim.

Thousands of residents and visitors are expected to come together for the parade, filling the Cambodia Town street with unique and colorful floats, musicians and traditional and modern Cambodian dancers, Durke said.

Officially taking place from April 14 to 16, the Cambodian New Year is one of the biggest celebrated holidays for Cambodians, Durke said.

“It is the Buddhist new year, but also, our people finish harvesting at this time of year, so we celebrate that,” he explained.

On Saturday, April 10, the 2010 Cambodian New Year Celebration will take place at El Dorado Park Regional Park in Area III (enter from Spring Street between Studebaker and the 605 Freeway) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Religious ceremonies, exotic food, traditional games, face painting and live performances will be a part of the public event.

Admission to the celebration is $40 per vehicle, which includes the $7 park entry fee. Discounted tickets may be purchased in advance at participating locations — visit www.cam-cc.org for a list of vendors.

Durke said the parade and celebration are especially significant in Long Beach because the city has the highest population of Cambodians living outside of Cambodia.

“This is a place for family and friends to gather and reunite,” he said. “A lot of us have been dispersed in the area. This allows us to find each other.”

The population of Cambodians in Long Beach is largely due to Cambodian refugees settling in the area, a precedent set in the 1960s when the first Cambodian student in the United States came to Long Beach to learn English, Durke said.

The event coordinator also said two events are something anyone can enjoy — even those who are not Cambodian.

“We have a little bit of everything for people to do,” he said. “We would like to invite everyone to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.”

With the message, “Suor Sdey Chhnam Thmey,” Cam-CC officials said they wish the Long Beach community a happy Cambodian New Year.

Applications for parade entries or booths for either event are being accepted now.

For more information, visit www.cam-cc.org.
READ MORE - 2010 Cambodian New Year Celebrated In Long Beach

China to provide water data on dams [along the Mekong River]

25/03/2010
Apinya Wipatayotin and Theeraporn Saiwirat
Bangkok Post

China has agreed to provide water level data from two dams in Yunnan province until the end of this year's drought in the lower Mekong River basin, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti says.

China recently sent a letter to the Mekong River Commission saying it was willing to provide it with hydrological data from Jinghong and Manwan dams, the minister said.

The data will be delivered every Monday at 9am starting from this week and will end at "the end of drought", the letter says. The data includes information on water levels, flow and rainfall at 8am on each day.

The cooperation comes after growing pressure from countries in the lower basin, including Thailand and Laos, which have complained that dams in China are contributing to problems leading to the lowest water levels ever seen in the Mekong.

Thailand has demanded China cooperate more closely on water management during the drought season.

Mr Suwit praised the Chinese decision to release the water information to other countries through the commission, calling it a significant step in closer collaboration with other countries sharing the resources of the river,

"It is a historical success since the establishment of the Mekong River Commission 15 years ago. The cooperation indicates China's sincerity in dealing with the problem. It is a mutual step for creating trust between us," he said.

The step resulted from talks when Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva this month.

Mr Suwit expressed confidence the information from the hydro-meteorological stations would be useful for the river basin management.

"The information is important. It lets us know where the problem is. Dams retain only 4% of water flowing to the Mekong."

The problem will be high on the agenda at the Mekong River Commission summit to be held in Hua Hin from April 2 to 5. China will attend the meeting as an observer. The MRC comprises Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

In another development, Mr Suwit said the drought season for this year was likely to extend to June and would cause more problems for farmers.

Only the Srinagarind dam in Kanchanaburi has a water level over 80%, unlike the rest which average about 40%, he said.

Activists working on Mekong River issues, meanwhile, said they plan to hold a parallel forum to discuss the water crisis when the MRC summit is held in Hua Hin. The public forum will be held at Chulalongkorn University.

The day after the two-day forum, the Mekong People Network in Thailand would submit a letter to China through its ambassador to Bangkok to call on Beijing to take responsibility for water problems facing countries downstream.
READ MORE - China to provide water data on dams [along the Mekong River]

Cambodians to march against rising hemlines on schoolgirls' skirts

Thu, 25 Mar 2010
DPA

Phnom Penh - Teachers and students from schools in the capital plan to march this weekend in an effort to persuade the government to ban creeping hemlines on schoolgirls' skirts, local media reported Thursday.

The Khmer Teachers' Association said the protest, which will involve around 300 teachers and students, would help to protect local culture from foreign influences.

"I want to improve and retain the Khmer culture that we had many years ago - some Khmer women have changed their manner by copying other cultures and wearing short skirts or sexy clothes in schools and public places," the body's director Sean Bunheang said.

He told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that such influences could destroy Cambodian culture, and wants the Ministry of Education to ban schoolgirls from wearing skirts that sit above the knee.

He said the ministry ought to take measures against students who continue to dress contrary to custom.

"I see that some female students don't wear the Khmer student uniform," he added. "It seems like a Western uniform."

Ouch Sophorn, a 23-year-old male English literature student, said he noticed many female students wearing short skirts.

"We always turn back to see them," he admitted. "I like to see them wearing short skirts, but I wouldn't want my sister or my girlfriends to do that. I think it is not our tradition."

An official at the Ministry of Education said existing rules decreed that female students should wear skirts that hang below the knee, adding that he approved of the march since it would remind students to dress appropriately.
READ MORE - Cambodians to march against rising hemlines on schoolgirls' skirts

Faces of Cambodia


25/03/2010
Ploenpote Atthakor
Bangkok Post


Dutch artist Peter Klashorst is preparing for a painting exhibition to be held in Cambodia's notorious Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum next month. The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the museum's reopening after renovations, with support from Unesco. He talks with 'Outlook' about his work and hope of pursuing his latest art scheme.

How and why did you get involved in this project?

I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh and took pictures with my mobile phone. The whole atmosphere moved me. That same day I flew back to Bangkok with those faces still in my memory. That evening I painted their portraits. I was intrigued by this time in history and wanted to do an exhibition regarding this topic, so eventually I got in contact with Unesco, which is renovating part of the museum. They were very interested in the idea of art being part of the project. Joining Unesco to our team also makes it easier for us to look for external funding for the project.

Will you paint more in Phnom Penh?

Yes, I am now in Phnom Penh. At the moment, I am experimenting with different methods of painting, different canvases. ... I have visited the killing fields a few times and the museum to take further pictures and sketches.

Will all the paintings be portraits of female victims?

No, portraits are only a small part of the work. I don't know how many paintings I will make. I always work a lot, and the whole situation is very inspiring and gives me a lot of energy. It will be like an avalanche of paintings. It's true that most of my subjects are female. When you make a portrait of someone, the person is still alive, so somehow you become like that person. When you paint a person with a nervous twitch, you almost catch the same twitch from them. You become one with the person and the poser becomes the painter in a way. You make the portrait together. So every portrait you paint is also a self-portrait and a portrait of the whole world. These were painted from photographs taken on my mobile phone, but they put shivers down my spine. It was as if these people were helping me make the paintings the same way as if they were alive and with me in my atelier. Thai people believe in reincarnation and ghosts, so my Thai friends who visited my studio said they would never want to sleep in the same room as the paintings. The strange thing is that I have a daughter who is 5 years old, and one of the children I painted looks exactly like her. It could have been my own child, so maybe reincarnation is true.

Have you changed your normal working process for this project?

The work process is different for this project because of the its complex historical and political context. I'm trying to gather as much information as possible about Southeast Asia, and, of course, the Khmer Rouge period in particular. I will let it all soak into my system and spit it out on canvas, and let my instincts do the rest. I'm not a politician, but an artist. I live through my emotions.

Are there other activities in the project apart from the exhibition?

There will be a documentary film and a workshop for art students. All are non-profit. I am paying for the whole project out of my own pocket and we are waiting for different parties (apart from Unesco) to contribute financially. The paintings that are shown here were sold to an English collector for 300,000 baht, which went back into the project.

Is 'Faces Cambodia - Never Again' the exhibition's title?

There is no title yet. I will have to discuss that with Unesco and the potential funders, depending on their role.

In your proposal, it says this is not a political project. How can you avoid that since it is apparent that the Hun Sen government makes use of Tuol Sleng and the killing fields for political gains over its enemies?

I never said that art is non-political. I think art without political or social context only serves as mere decoration and, although I cannot judge my own work, I hope it will stir people's thoughts; otherwise it has failed. However, I'm not part of any political movement, only my own paint and brush movement. Of course I realise that a museum like this always has a political background and politicians will always try to exploit it for their own means, but I have no part in that and believe that such a macabre place will always stir up controversy. Concerning the remains of the victims, although we cannot ask them, I think they would have agreed to have themselves shown in this way. Although it may may seem cheap and disrespectful, it attracts people to their story, and those people's thoughts will be with them. In a way, the same goes for the photographs. These people were never asked to be photographed and never gave their permission to be displayed. When people look at a photograph or a skull, it helps them identify with the victims and I hope my paintings can help people reflect on what happened here. Art will be here forever and governments will come and go. Vita Brevis Ars Longa (Life is short; art is forever).
READ MORE - Faces of Cambodia

Cambodia's Hun Sen to attend Mekong River Commission meet in Hua Hin

Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Nation

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen plans to make his first visit to Thailand since the two countries downgraded their diplomatic ties late last year.

Hun Sen is scheduled to attend the Mekong River Commission (MRC) meeting in Hua Hin early next month.

"We have received his confirmation for the meeting," Information Department deputy director-general Thani Thongpakdee said yesterday.

Cambodia and Thailand recalled their ambassadors last November, not long after Hun Sen appointed former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as his economic adviser.

The Cambodian premier also strongly criticised the Abhisit Vejjajiva-led government at the time.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti yesterday said the prime ministers of Laos and Vietnam had also confirmed they would be present at the MRC meeting.

"Burma and China will dispatch representatives to the meeting, too," he said.

The MRC member countries are Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Burma and China are dialogue partners.

MRC's mission

The MRC's mission is to promote and coordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries' mutual benefit and the people's well-being.

The 4,350-kilometre-long Mekong is one of the world's major rivers. With its source in the Tibetan Plateau, the river runs through China's Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In recent years, the downriver countries have lamented that China's dams along the Mekong caused abnormal changes in water levels.

Many Thais living along the Mekong complain the water level very often increases and decreases drastically in the space of a day.

Earlier this year, the water level in the Mekong was too low for cargo boats to use in Chiang Rai province.

Suwit Kularbwong, coordinator for the Human Rights Information and Peace Centre of the Northeast, said Thai, Lao and Vietnamese academics would discuss the state of the Mekong in their respective countries next Thursday.

"On April 2, another forum on the issue will be held, but participants will be locals, such as those from Chiang Rai," Suwit said.

He said about 300 demonstrators would gather in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok on April 3 to submit a letter detailing how the dams in China had adversely affected people downriver.

"It's going to be a symbolic move," he added.

Minister Suwit yesterday expressed optimism about China's gesture in response to the plea from downriver countries.

"It has showed an intention to help ease the Mekong problems," he said.

China's Water Resources Ministry has agreed to provide the MRC secretariat with hydrological data from the hydrometeorological stations at Jinhong and Manan in Yunnan province during the severe drought season, as an emergency response to facilitate disaster relief in downstream countries.

"Data will be delivered every Monday from March 22 until the end of this year's drought season," Suwit said.
READ MORE - Cambodia's Hun Sen to attend Mekong River Commission meet in Hua Hin

Decisive Evidence of Border Encroachment: Summary and Conclusions

(Photo: Ly Meng Huor, RFI)

March 24, 2010

DECISIVE EVIDENCE OF BORDER ENCROACHMENT

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

I- My previous work on the border issue (October 2009 - February 2010)

My first purpose was to show that the so-called temporary border post # 185 made up of six wooden poles which I uprooted on October 25, 2009 in Koh Kban Kandal village, in Samraong commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province, was located in fact within Cambodia’s territory, at a significant distance from the real and legal border between Cambodia and Vietnam, because the poles were planted in the middle of a Cambodian farmer’s rice field.

But in the process of doing the limited work as stated above, a team of several Cambodian and French experts assisting me has examined the border situation for the entire Samraong commune involving four different locations of newly erected "border" markers (# 184, 185, 186 and 187). We found that the locations were all inside Cambodia. Then we realized that the type of border encroachment we discovered in Samraong commune could have as well taken place in other communes, other districts and other provinces given the same political and administrative context that has prevailed in Cambodia since 1979.

In January and February this year, we presented evidence of border encroachment in two reports available at http://tinyurl.com/yeaoxyf and at http://tinyurl.com/ykbq57f.

In the first set of documents, we showed that the newly-planted so-called temporary border posts # 184, 185, 186 and 187 in Samraong commune were all inside Cambodia whether we based our observations and analyses on the official 1952 French SGI 1/100,000 map deposited at the UN in 1964, the 1966 US Army 1/50,000 map or more recent Google Earth satellite imagery. We estimated that the four so-called temporary border posts had been wrongfully planted inside Cambodia at a distance between 300 meters and 500 meters from the legal international border as delineated on both the French map and the US map.

In the second set of documents, we identified three real and legal border points in the vicinity of Samraong commune but in a zone now controlled by Vietnam. The geographical coordinates of those border points are specified in the 1985 Border Treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam (available at the Council of Ministers' website http://www.pressocm.gov.kh/border/11.php). As a matter of fact, we could confirm that those official border points are effectively located on -- or extremely near -- the border line as delineated on existing maps. However, we noticed that, on the two recognized maps as well as on satellite imagery, those three official border points are located much to the East of the newly-planted "temporary border posts" # 184 through 187, meaning that the latter clearly encroach on Cambodia’s territory, in stark violation of the 1985 Border Treaty.

Therefore, the so-called temporary border post I pulled out last year (# 185) and those nearby (# 184, 186 and 187) were not real border posts: They had been illegally planted well inside Cambodian territory, on Khmer farmers’ rice fields.

The result of our previous work as described above is now confirmed by the new report attached herewith, which is more elaborated, more exhaustive and most authoritative.

II- The new report (March 23, 2010)

To read the full report please click at http://tinyurl.com/y8s2ntw

This 14-page report in French titled "Géoréférencement des Cartes Trang Bang et Duc Hue" or Georeferencing of Trang Bang and Duc Hue Maps, was written by Mr Régis Caloz, a physicist and map expert specialized in Geographic Information System (GIS), who was a professor at the renowned Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland. I was introduced to Mr Caloz by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Here are the main points of the report:

1. All the maps and official documents that we have used so far are real, genuine and authentic (pages 2 to 4).

2. The analytical methods and tools we used previously were, on the whole, accurate. But more sophisticated, more refined and more precise methods and tools are used in the new report (pages 4 to 10).

A theoretical mistake we made previously related to a datum conversion has been fixed but with no change whatsoever in the final result (page 10): “The GPS locations under WGS 84, directly converted into UTM 48 without change in the ellipsoid and introduced on the (digitalized) Duc Hue map in UTM 48 under Everest (India) 60, coincide with the points obtained by following the procedure used for the first assumption which logically includes a datum conversion.”

["Les points GPS sous WGS 84, convertis directement en UTM 48 sans modification de l’ellipsoïde et introduits sur la carte Duc Hue en UTM 48 sous Everest (Indes) 60, se superposent aux points obtenus en suivant la procédure de la première hypothèse comportant logiquement la conversion de datum."]

3. All the results we found previously are confirmed by the new report, which only brings more certainty and more precision to our previous conclusions, in particular (pages 10 to 14):

a) The so-called temporary border posts # 184, 185, 186 and 187 are located at a distance of respectively 368 m, 319 m, 493 m and 483 m from the real and legal border, with a margin of error of plus or minus 100 m. In the worst case, those fake and illegal border posts are located at 268 m, 219 m, 393 m and 383 m from the real and legal border, meaning well inside Cambodia’s territory (page 12).

b) Even the controversial 1985 Border Treaty is being violated, with Vietnam continuously moving the de facto (imposed) border into Cambodia’s territory. The continuous encroachment has followed a two-step process (pages 13 and 14):
  • First, the administrative frontier was displaced from the original legal border line -- where we can spot the three border points 1985-143, 1985-144 (very near to Canal 1 on Google satellite imagery, page 14) and 1985-145 -- to a more recent canal (Canal 2 on Google satellite imagery) dug in 1979 in Cambodia's territory, between 100 m and 300 m to the west of the original legal border line. Canal 2 currently represents the de facto border line.
  • Second, there is presently an attempt to move again the border line from the 1979 canal (Canal 2) to the new "temporary border posts" 184, 185, 186 and 187 planted between 100 m and 300 m further to the West in 2008-2009, infringing on rice fields belonging to Cambodian farmers I have been trying to defend.
c) The current government in Phnom Penh has shown its negligence and/or incompetence when it comes to dealing with the defense of Cambodia’s territorial integrity as enshrined in the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements and in the Kingdom’s Constitution.

Sam Rainsy
Member of Parliament
READ MORE - Decisive Evidence of Border Encroachment: Summary and Conclusions

SRP MPs visiting jailed Khmer villagers who were victimized by the Vietnamese encroachment in Svay Rieng

Dr. Ly Srey Vina (C) who is also a SRP MP gave a health checkup for the two Khmer villagers jailed (All photos: SRP)
Dr. Ly Srey Vina (2nd from left) discussed with the prison authority
SRP MPs visited families of the jailed Khmer villagers
SRP MP Ker Sovannaroth (C) provided some financial help to the families of the jailed Khmer villagers
SRP MP Ker Sovannaroth (L) provided some financial help to the families of the jailed Khmer villagers
READ MORE - SRP MPs visiting jailed Khmer villagers who were victimized by the Vietnamese encroachment in Svay Rieng

Chea Dara: “[Hun Xen] is really the king of the soldiers, and he distinguishes himself by his talent and experience”

4-golden-star General Chea Dara took the opportunity to boast the prowess of his boss, the 5-golden-star General Hun Xen, "the king of the soldiers," albeit without a throne to claim as his own ... yet (Photo: DAP news)

Geopolitical lecture

24 March 2010
By Im Navin
Cambodge Soir Info
Translated from French by Alain de Veng
Click here to read the article in French


The government invited high-ranking officials to a conference aiming at defending the country’s territorial integrity.

Senators, MPs, government officials, a few hundred people gathered on 24 March at Council of Ministers to attend an exclusive presentation. The goal of this event was to distribute information on the nature of the conflict with Thailand and on the consequences that Cambodia must draw from.

Chea Dara, the deputy army commander-in-chief, gave out an improvised conference: “Patience, good knowledge of the situation and the courage of our soldiers constitute crucial elements to contain the Thai encroachment.”

Chea Dara did not miss the opportunity to put forward the weak points of the Thai army. According to the Cambodian general, Thai soldiers lack strategy and some do not even know the name of their chief.

The conference was also an opportunity for Chea Dara to boast Hun Xen’s values: “He is really the king of the soldiers, and he distinguishes himself by his talent and experience.” Chea Dara also stressed: “Samdach Hun Xen managed the conflict very well. He always asked us to be patient and to find peaceful solutions.”

The “information” campaign should be expanded to government workers and students in the upcoming days.
READ MORE - Chea Dara: “[Hun Xen] is really the king of the soldiers, and he distinguishes himself by his talent and experience”

Rushed Graft Law a Sham: Opposition Leader

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (Photo: Reuters)

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington
24 March 2010


Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday lambasted the country’s new anti-corruption law as a sham, saying those who commit graft in the country will never be jailed for it.

The law, which took 15 years to draft and less than a week to approve, will not have the teeth necessary to rein in Cambodia’s rampant corruption, Sam Rainsy said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The requirement for public officials to disclose assets will be done with a “closed envelope,” Sam Rainsy said, making it more likely that those who seek the information will be punished before corrupt officials.

Officials who “can’t declare where the assets have come from, that should be from corruption and it should be paid back to the nation and the people,” Sam Rainsy said from France, where he remains in exile, facing a jail sentence in Cambodia.

Assets should not be declared secretly, he said.

“We should do it in a transparent way, to let the people know, and see that before [an official] took office, [he or she] was poor, but after taking office for some years became a millionaire,” he said. “That means [the official] committed corruption while in office.”

Anti-corruption legislation was passed by the Senate last week and has been sent to the Constitutional Council, where it must be approved before moving to the king to be signed.

Implementation is not expected until late 2011, when a new criminal law comes into effect.

The anti-corruption law has worried opponents, who say it does not provide enough protection for whistleblowers and will not create anti-graft bodies with enough independence.

Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said having a law was a first step.

“If there’s a stalemate in future implementation, we can make amendments,” he said by phone as the show was underway.

Cheam Yiep said the law creates an independent council and puts decisions in the hands of judges.

However, speaking to VOA Khmer ahead of the show, Ny Chaya, chief of monitoring for the rights group Adhoc, said the law will not effectively prevent graft and does not protect those who would report it.

“If the court sees that there is no corruption, then those who are whistleblowers will be charged and imprisoned,” he said. “That would make the whistleblower unable to give information, as the judicial system in our country is not credible.”
READ MORE - Rushed Graft Law a Sham: Opposition Leader

Companies Seek Ways Around Corruption [... by paying under the table to gov't officials?]


By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 March 2010


It is not easy to get ahead in Cambodia’s business environment. Just ask Sam Sambath, CEO of the country’s largest manufacturer of construction coating materials.

Cam-Paint Manufacturing, which has seen rapid growth since 2004, is able to compete with local businesses and imports alike, through a number of strategies.

But success was not possible without monthly payments of at least $1,000 to government officials to avoid full taxes and to help each of his outlets run smoothly, Sam Sambath told VOA Khmer last week.

“We pay $3,000 monthly for the tax, and 30 percent of it is unofficial,” Sam Sambath said.

Cam-Paint is not alone. Cambodia ranks among countries perceived as most corrupt, according to Transparency International, a watchdog group. Corruption hurts businesses, but finding a solution to the graft problem is difficult.

Last week, international experts from the US and Australian embassies urged the business community to take a stand.

“The place to start is the top,” said Tim Phillips, worldwide managing partner of forensics and dispute services of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu International, an international consulting firm.

Make sure that government ministers, business leaders and all the important people in Cambodia’s business community talk about the importance of not being corrupt and work through each level, even to the lowest level, and remove as much of that corruption as possible,” he said.

The whole country can benefit, he said, “in particular the people at the lower level who need a prosperous economy to support hospitals and schools.”

Sam Sambath said it is not easy and that companies will lose money if they play by the rules.

“If we try to make ourselves so poor, we will lose our basic competition and our benefit,” he said. “For instance, if one makes corruption, they pay only $1.50, instead of $3, on product tax. So if we pay $3 alone, we will lose $1.50. So we need to increase our product’s price in order to make $1.50 profit. That makes the cost of product higher than others.”

Om Yentieng, head of the government’s anti-corruption body, declined to comment on the concerns.

However, Hang Choun Narun, secretary-general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said a new anti-corruption law, passed by the Senate last week, will eliminate unofficial payments inside state institutions.

There are other concerns about business fees and licenses.

“They don’t announce in public how much we have to pay and in how many days we will get the license,” said Prum Soun Praseth, an associate with Allens Arthur Robinson, an international law firm.

Corruption must be fought from within state institutions, he said, giving the business community an even playing field.

“We have to pay them three times more than the original price in order to hasten the procedure,” he said. “If we say no, it will get stuck within the ministry. So what should we do?”
READ MORE - Companies Seek Ways Around Corruption [... by paying under the table to gov't officials?]

Khieu Samphan hospitalized for a cough ... KR victims died when they were sick under Khieu Samphan's KR regime: Justice?

Khieu Samphan Hospitalized With Cough

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
24 March 2010


Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan has been hospitalized since last week, tribunal and hospital officials said Tuesday, providing another reminder that aging leaders could evade justice at a UN-backed tribunal.

Khieu Samphan, now 79, was the nominal head of the regime.He has suffered strokes in the past, but officials said Tuesday he was hospitalized last week with a cough and lung problems.

The tribunal is currently moving toward a trial against Khieu Samphan and four other former regime members, for genocide and other atrocity crimes.

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the court, said Khieu Samphan did not have serious health problems but was under hospital observation for a cold.

Tribunal observers worry that the aging leaders could die before they see trial.
READ MORE - Khieu Samphan hospitalized for a cough ... KR victims died when they were sick under Khieu Samphan's KR regime: Justice?

Asian countries launch swap agreement

March 24 2010
By Kevin Brown in Singapore
Financial Times


Thirteen Asian countries on Wednesday launched a $120bn currency swaps agreement to provide emergency US dollar liquidity to nations facing a foreign exchange crisis.

The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation agreement, 80 per cent financed by Japan, China and South Korea, is a multilateral extension of a network of bilateral swaps deals reached after the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis.

However, economists said it was unlikely to pave the way for an Asian Monetary Fund that could provide a regional alternative to the International Monetary Fund.

“There is certainly no harm in it, but it is quite a long way from here to any form of AMF,” said Michael Buchanan, Asia chief economist at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.

“If you want to have true objective conditional lending, that is quite hard for neighbouring countries. It is much easier to rely on the IMF for that,” he said.

The agreement allows the three main financing countries and the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations to seek emergency dollar funding of between 0.5 and five times their contributions to the fund.

However, 80 per cent of any swaps approved will be subject to IMF conditions, such as economic reform programmes of the kind imposed by the global lender in 1997/98.

This leaves only 20 per cent of the fund subject to a purely Asian decision-making process. As a result no member country will be able to receive more from the fund than it has contributed, unless the IMF approves.

Officials say this restriction may be eased once a proposed regional surveillance unit is established to monitor economic trends and supervise the use of disbursements from the fund.’

However, much of the urgency behind the drive for a broader Asian financial institution has dissipated in the wake of the huge foreign exchange reserves accumulated by many Asian countries since 1997/98 through large and sustained trade surpluses.

The initial proposal for an AMF was made in 1997 by Eisuke Sakakibara, then Japan’s deputy finance minister, but it was never established because of strong opposition from the US.

The idea continues to surface in policy discussions, notably in Japan. Supporters such as Masahiro Kawai, dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo, say an AMF could promote exchange rate stability, encourage regional bond market liquidity and project an “Asian voice” on financial matters.

It also retains some traction in south-east Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand that were angered by tough conditions attached to emergency loans extended by the IMF in 1997/98.

The Asean members of the multilateral agreement are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Brunei and Laos. Hong Kong participates as a self-governing Chinese territory.
READ MORE - Asian countries launch swap agreement

New cryptic gecko species is discovered in Cambodia

Cnemaspis neangthyi reveals itself

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
BBC


A new and extremely well camouflaged species of gecko has been discovered hiding in the forests of Cambodia.

Scientists working for Fauna & Flora International found the olive-green coloured gecko in the foothills of the Cardomom Mountains.

Called Cnemaspis neangthyi, the gecko is only the second species of its kind known to live in the country.

Scientists suspect it has lain hidden for so long due to its camouflage and habit of foraging in rocky crevices.

The new species was found during a reptile and amphibian survey led in June 2007 by Dr Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in Riverside, California, US and conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

Since then, scientific studies have revealed it to be a species new to science, due to its unique combination of colour pattern and scale characteristics.

There are currently 75 species of Cnemapsis known to science, of which 30 live in South East Asia, with only one other species present in Cambodia.

They have a relatively ancient body plan characterised by a broad flattened head, large forward and upward directed eyes, flattened body, long widely splayed limbs, and long inflected digits that help them to climb trees and rock faces and seek refuge within crevices.

Cnemaspis are diurnal species that usually go unnoticed because of their cryptic coloration and habit of foraging on the shaded surfaces of trees and overhanging rock faces.

Cnemaspis neangthyi was found living in the rocky foothills of Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains, and is thought to live nowhere else.

The new species is olive-green with light coloured blotches containing a central black dot.

It also has a distinct light green chevron marking on its nape and a head with a distinct black parietal spot and radiating black lines extending from its eyes.

Its digits also have light yellow and black bands.

The Cardomom Mountains support one the largest and mostly unexplored forest regions in southeast Asia, which are thought to shelter at least 62 globally threatened animal and 17 globally threatened tree species, many of which are endemic to Cambodia.
READ MORE - New cryptic gecko species is discovered in Cambodia

War Journalists to Get Reunion in Cambodia Next Month

Chhang Song, a chameleon-politician (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

2010-03-24
Xinhua

Some 40 foreign war journalists who were covering in Cambodia in early 1970s will get together in Phnom Penh next month, Chhang Song, former information minister said Wednesday.

He said for the first time since that horrible war, foreign war correspondents are returning to Phnom Penh for a reunion from April 20 to 23.

The event is organized by Chhang Song, the last Information Minister in the Lon Nol government who now divides his time between Cambodia and the United States and acts as a senior adviser to both the government and public-at-large.

For those who covered the Cambodian War between 1970 and 1975, the memories have always been particularly painful.

Chhang Song said a total of 36 foreign and Cambodian journalists were killed or disappeared, more than in the war in neighboring Vietnam.

Assisting Chhang Song in his quest is former Associated Press ( AP) correspondent U.S.-born Carl Robinson who covered the Cambodian War from neighboring Saigon, today's Ho Chi Minh City, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia.

While several reunions have been held over the past 15 years in Saigon, this is the first one in Phnom Penh. And, considering their age, this reunion will most likely also be the last one.

"Covering the war was so painful that many, even now, are unable to look back on that period," explains Robinson, who has only re-visited Cambodia in the past couple of years.

Cambodian government has granted permission for the construction of a memorial to the journalists who died in Cambodia while covering the civil war in the 1970s, according to local media report on Monday.

The memorial will be located in the Daun Penh district gardens opposite Raffles Hotel le Royal, it said.
READ MORE - War Journalists to Get Reunion in Cambodia Next Month

China-Cambodia Ties Grow Tighter

CICP head Cheang Vanarith says China's economic assistance has proved a boon for Cambodia (Photo: VOA - R. Carmichael)

Robert Carmichael, VOA
Phnom Penh 24 March 2010


In the past five years China and Cambodia have drawn ever closer, with Beijing investing billions of dollars in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation. Cambodians see both benefits and potential risks in the relationship.

In the past five years, China has become Cambodia's most important source of foreign investment: Cambodia has approved $6 billion of Chinese investments since 2006, while China provided at least $2 billion more in grant aid and loans.

Those are big sums for Cambodia, which has a $10 billion economy.

The relationship between the two countries is nothing new. Chea Vannath, an independent analyst based in Phnom Penh, says China's influence goes back at least 1,000 years.

"So it shows a good relationship with China. Since then either during the bad time or the happy time, China and Cambodia always have - you can say - sweet and sour, or long-lasting relationship. Always," said Chea Vannath.

In recent years that relationship is one the Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has come to value highly.

He has publicly welcomed the rapid increase in Chinese investment. He also says China is his kind of friend since he says, unlike some donors to this aid-reliant nation, Beijing provides cash with no strings attached and without interfering.

Cheang Vanarith is the director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, a research body in Phnom Penh. He notes that China's financial interests in Cambodia have other benefits for Beijing.

"But probably China looks beyond economic interests toward more strategic interests in this region. So China used to be the center of the universe. China is the kind of regional hub in terms of strategic (strategy) and economic (economy). Some people call it China returning to the past," he said.

But there are concerns about China's rising influence in Cambodia. For instance, some critics, including witnesses who recently testified in the U.S. Congress, say the money China invests in Cambodia's infrastructure ends up going to state-owned Chinese companies that build the roads and hydropower dams. These contracts are not open to public scrutiny or independent oversight.

The International Monetary Fund, among others, has expressed concern about Beijing's insistence that Phnom Penh pledge to buy all of the power the hydropower dams generate for 30 years.

That could total hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The IMF says Phnom Penh must ensure it does not lock itself into huge open-ended commitments for fear that the liability could harm the fight against poverty.

Despite those concerns, Cheang Vanarith says China will continue to expand its influence in Cambodia. He says China's friendship provides Cambodia with a useful balance against countries such as Thailand, with which it has historical disputes.

He sees few risks to the relationship, and says some of the money from China's aid and investment helps anti-poverty efforts.

But human rights activists say the relationship could be too cozy. They pointed to Phnom Penh's decision last year to send 20 Uighur refugees back to China, at Beijing's request. Days later Cambodia received economic assistance deals worth $1.2 billion.

The United States and other countries sharply criticized Cambodia for deporting the Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority group in China. But Cheang Vanarith says there has been no economic backlash.

"Yes, we got strong negative reaction from the U.S. But later stage it seemed to be O.K. The bilateral relations between Cambodia and the U.S., I could feel it's on the right track - coming back," said Cheang Vanarith.

Chea Vannath, however, like many civic activists, worries about China's effect on Cambodia's environment, and the effort to improve governance and human rights protections here.

China is ranked in 79th in the most recent Transparency International corruption perception survey, out of 180 nations. She says Cambodia ought to learn the lessons of governance from nations with a better track record on democracy and human rights.

"And with the money that goes along with lack of transparency, lack of democratic governance - not just governance, but democratic governance - the participation of people into the state affairs. That concerns us. Yes, it concerns me," she said.

It appears to be less of concern to the Phnom Penh government. Just this month, China and Cambodia agreed to continue strengthening the relationship and to cooperate on projects to develop Cambodia's agriculture, tourism and communications industries.
READ MORE - China-Cambodia Ties Grow Tighter

The Dark Side of China Aid

March 24, 2010
By CHRISTOPHER WALKER and SARAH COOK
The New York Times

The government in Phnom Penh, which has received substantial aid from the United States and other democracies, now receives comparable amounts from China. The Cambodian authorities have used this “assistance competition” to their advantage. Rather than combating corruption and implementing sorely needed reforms to the judiciary and media sector, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has shrunk space for alternative voices and independent institutions. Western donors, fearful of losing influence, have been increasingly hesitant to penalize the regime for its failures.
A growing number of developing countries receive billions of dollars a year in assistance, loans, and investments from China. Already in 2010, Beijing has committed $25 billion to Asean nations. In March, Zambia’s president returned from a trip to China with a $1 billion loan in hand.

As Beijing’s levels of foreign assistance swell and its relationship deepens with countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, a key question emerges: What impact will investments by an opaque and repressive superpower have on governance standards in the developing world?

Findings from a Freedom House analysis, “Countries at the Crossroads,” point to the challenges that many of these recipient countries confront as they struggle to build more transparent and accountable systems. Fighting corruption and safeguarding freedom of expression and assembly are proving especially difficult. The dark side of Beijing’s engagement, with its nontransparent aid and implicit conditions, risks tipping the balance in the wrong direction.

To appreciate the “China effect” on developing countries, it is essential to understand the methods Beijing is using to exert influence and warp incentives for accountable governance.

First, as international financial institutions and donor organizations seek to encourage stronger governance norms, aid from China has become an alternate source of funds. Recipient governments use these as a bargaining chip to defer measures that strengthen transparency and rule of law, especially those that could challenge elite power.

Cambodia is a telling example. The government in Phnom Penh, which has received substantial aid from the United States and other democracies, now receives comparable amounts from China. The Cambodian authorities have used this “assistance competition” to their advantage. Rather than combating corruption and implementing sorely needed reforms to the judiciary and media sector, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has shrunk space for alternative voices and independent institutions. Western donors, fearful of losing influence, have been increasingly hesitant to penalize the regime for its failures.

In October, the Guinean government announced a $7 billion deal with the China International Fund just as the international community was considering sanctions following a massacre of opposition supporters. The case underscores how even investments by a private entity, this one with ties to Beijing, can be manipulated to undermine efforts to support human rights standards.

Second, while “no strings attached” is commonly used to describe China’s approach in the developing world, the reality is not quite so benign. A combination of subtle and not-so-subtle conditions typically accompanies this largesse. Included among these is pressure to muzzle voices critical of the Chinese government, often undermining basic freedoms of expression and assembly in these countries. The authorities in Nepal, which have recently received a 50 percent boost in aid from Beijing, have violently suppressed Tibetan demonstrations, including the arrest of thousands of exiles in 2008. In December of last year, Cambodia’s government forcibly repatriated 20 Uighurs to China, where they face almost certain imprisonment and torture. Three days later, Beijing announced a package of deals with Cambodia estimated at $1 billion.

Even more democratically developed countries are not immune to such pressures. In March 2009, the South African government barred the Dalai Lama’s attendance at a pre-World Cup peace conference.

Third, Chinese aid funds are frequently conditioned on being used to purchase goods from firms selected by Chinese officials without an open bidding process. In Namibia, anti-corruption agencies are investigating suspected kickbacks in a deal involving security scanners purchased by the government from a company until recently headed by President Hu Jintao’s son. Beijing’s response has been to stonewall investigations and activate its robust Internet censorship apparatus, sanitizing online references to the case Chinese citizens might stumble across.

Observers such as the scholar Larry Diamond have identified countries that are semi-democratic, rather than autocracies, as the most promising ground for expanding the ranks of consolidated democracies globally. The patently negative aspects of the Chinese Communist Party’s developing world influence could deal a real blow to this aspiration.

Findings from Freedom House’s global analysis of political rights and civil liberties put this phenomenon in perspective. Over the past five years countries with only some features of institutionalized democratic systems have slipped significantly — 57 countries within the “partly free” category have experienced declines, while only 38 improved.

Beijing’s deepening involvement in these cases may generate a number of effects, some perhaps positive for short-term economic development. But the dark underbelly of the Chinese regime’s involvement — the opacity of its aid and the illiberal conditions that underpin it — means that over the long haul, incentives for strengthening accountable governance and basic human rights are being warped, or even reversed.

Christopher Walker is director of studies and Sarah Cook is an Asia researcher at Freedom House.
READ MORE - The Dark Side of China Aid

In Cambodia, unity is strength

March 24, 2010
By Gaffar Peang-Meth
Guest Commentary

UPI Asia Online


Washington, DC, United States, — No stone has been left unturned by writers in Cambodia and abroad in exposing the Hun Sen regime’s violations of human rights and lack of good governance. Endless appeals for change have been made by reputable national and international nongovernmental organizations.

But this is merely water off a duck’s back to the regime. It’s futile. Besides, the duck may even enjoy the water.

A former comrade-in-arms, now in the ranks of Premier Hun Sen’s armed forces – neutralized, sidelined and mistrusted, like others who chose to remain in the country and join Sen to earn enough money to live – tells me of the ruling Cambodian elite’s philosophy: “Write all you want until the cows come home. Nothing will change until we are ready. Besides, we can sue you!”

But Sen and his elite continue to fatten themselves with amassed wealth as they ride above the law, while the poor scavenge city dumps for food and are evicted from their land so it can be developed for others’ profit. The country’s natural resources are looted for personal gain, and many in the international community continue business as usual with Sen because it’s profitable.

It is an evident truth that the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, intended to establish democracy in the country, were never implemented.

Many have been sued by the government; the main opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, faces jail should he return to Phnom Penh from Paris. Earlier, royalist opposition leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh, son of King Sihanouk, half-brother of current King Sihamoni, swore off politics to be allowed to return from self-imposed exile in Malaysia. Ranariddh is quiet; as all the royals are quiet. The king continues to be Sen’s rubber stamp – even signing a royal decree nominating a neighboring country’s fugitive leader as advisor to the government.

Not that Cambodians and non-Cambodians don’t see and don’t know these things. They do, but most don’t think these things affect them directly and personally. Worse, many brush off what is unpleasant as they scapegoat others, assign blame and absolve themselves from culpability.

“There's none so blind as those who will not see,” a saying goes.

Another former comrade-in-arms who has read my columns over the years and is now also with the Sen regime, asked me, “You still want to transform ducks into peacocks?” The Greek philosopher Plato said long ago: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”

Plato’s “fools” are dangerous because they are ignorant. Martin Luther King observed, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Last week, I emailed an acquaintance two quotes, one from prominent psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, “The system isn't stupid, but the people in it are”; and another from Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Who and what people are, I wrote, determine their actions. Thus, we must begin change with ourselves.

Back to Hun Sen’s Cambodia. Although Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party do have support inside and outside the country, Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity president Serey Ratha Sourn’s pertinent question deserves consideration. “If Hun Sen and the ruling party have no fear of Cambodians at the grassroots level rising up at the right time in a People Power against them, why did he and the CPP rush a new criminal code limiting the number of demonstrators and block the rights of expression?”

Sourn doesn’t believe that an election in contemporary Cambodia would have any meaning. With power concentrated in the same hands that suppress dissent, trample laws and instill fear, Sen is certain to win and the election is only a tool to legitimize his oppression.

A grassroots activist, Sourn sees “People Power” as possible, and as the only route to bring change. He and his supporters are working to implement a strategy of “One Mission, One Message and One Multitude” – Sourn’s three M’s. So they devote their time to setting up networks of people, monks and youth.

While a Western reader wrote that “most people” in Cambodia “have accommodated to the prevailing political situation” and are moving on “to make ends meet rather than worry about how change could be brought about,” some Cambodians in the country have told me the people need to read my articles, but in the Khmer language – confirming Sourn’s and others’ contention that as Cambodians understand, they will rise up.

Talk of creating a government-in-exile has dissipated. Such an action would be futile. It would be easy to create and announce it. World governments might sympathize with Cambodians’ plight, but realpolitik dictates that they balance between the devil they know and the devil they don’t know.

Some history does seem to repeat. As it was in the 1970s and 1980s with the Cambodian Non-Communist Resistance and the associated coalition government, in the final analysis, foreigners called the shots.

Cambodians, like others in the world, are generally impatient with slow results in an era of push-buttons and of instant gratification. Many want change in Cambodia – and wish a government-in-exile or armed resistance would produce the change.

It is those impatient Cambodians who scoff at retired Johns Hopkins professor Rananhkiri Tith’s call for a “systematic overhaul” of Cambodian society as a way to slow down and perhaps “save” Cambodia from disintegration. Tith’s scheme would take a long time to be successful.

Lasting change has a chance as a population becomes more educated. But it could take 20 years before education bears fruit.

Sadly, while the Sen regime consolidates its power, his critics are in disarray. Cambodians have learned since their youth, “l’union fait la force,” or unity is strength. And many have learned U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin’s words, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” as he called on American rebels either to band together or find themselves hung individually at the British gallows. Thus, E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one: the 13 colonies banded together as the United States of America.

Thus 233 years later, in July 2009, the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, told Ghana’s Parliament, “We must start with a simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans,” and, “With strong institutions and a strong will, I know that Africans can live their dreams.”

Cambodians should hear Obama’s words.
--
(Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. He currently lives in the United States. He can be contacted at peangmeth@gmail.com. ©Copyright Gaffar Peang-Meth.)
READ MORE - In Cambodia, unity is strength

Cambodia finally drafting laws to curb acid attacks

Wed Mar 24, 2010
By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters Life!) - Keo Sreyvy is scarred for life after hot acid was poured on her in a vicious attack. Her body is covered in burns. She is blind in one eye.

Like scores of other acid attack victims in Cambodia, Keo Sreyvy knows her attacker very well -- her brother-in-law -- but the police have so far done nothing to bring him to justice.

But after years of indifference to a rise in acid attacks across Cambodia, which have disfigured both men and women, authorities are drafting legislation to restrict acid sales and punish perpetrators, part of attempts to tidy up its image as the impoverished country develops its economy.

Often dismissed as fits of jealous rage, the attacks are now at the center of a national debate over how to treat a readily available substance used to clean jewelry, unclog drains, maintain vehicles and, increasingly, to attack people.

After seven attacks in 2008, the number jumped to 28 in 2009. Ten attacks have been reported this year alone, according to the nonprofit Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity.

Legislation in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where acid attacks are also common, was being studied and a new law would soon be in place, said Ouk Kimlek, a top police general and senior Interior Ministry official.

Authorities say the law would punish attackers with up to life in prison and require all acid sellers be licensed. Both acid sellers and buyers would need to carry identification proving that they are older than 20.

"If he's arrested, I would ask that he is executed," said Keo Sreyvy, who was attacked a year ago by her brother-in-law, who blamed her for the breakup in his marriage.

"This left me a widow with three children. It's destroyed my body and my life," she said.
Rights groups normally critical of Cambodia's law enforcement agencies have heaped praise on the government for its newfound enthusiasm toward curbing the problem.

"We support the government," said Pung Chiv Kek, president of local rights group Licadho. "We want to see a good law."

Ziad Samman, a case coordinator at the Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity, said the attacks often went unpunished because they were dismissed as domestic rows.

The move comes as Cambodia seeks to clean up its reputation for human rights abuses, rampant corruption, and lax law enforcement, factors that have deterred foreign investors.

Strict laws on weapons sales made acid a cheap and readily available alternative, and victims are from both sexes.

Sam Bunnarith a former salesman, is now blind in both eyes after he was attacked by his own wife because of his infidelity.

"She didn't expect I would lose sight in both my eyes, she just wanted my face to look bad," he said, adding his wife wanted to disfigure him so he was no longer attractive to other women.

(Editing by Martin Petty and Miral Fahmy)
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Hearing in Mu Sochua’s case to take place on 07 April


24 March 2010
Everyday.com.kh
Translated from Khmer by Komping Puoy

A source close the Supreme Court indicated on 23 March 2010 that the court will hold a hearing on 07 April to decide on the appeal case by SRP MP Mu Sochua who is accused of defaming Hun Xen. On 28 October 2009, the Appeal court held a hearing on this defamation case after Mrs. Mu Sochua appealed the decision handed down by the Phnom Penh municipal court which ordered her to pay a $4,100 fine. Mrs. Mu Sochua refused to pay that fine. The Appeal court upheld the decision issued by the lower court. Mrs. Mu Sochua then appealed to the Supreme Court at the end of 2009. Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, said that Mrs. Mu Sochua is currently traveling to the US and she will returned back by the beginning of April. However, he said that he does not know the date set for the Supreme Court hearing.
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Eucalyptus a hidden cause of Southwest China's drought

By Chen Chenchen
Source: Global Times

Drought-plagued Southwest China is witnessing a bitter lack of water.

Wang Xuefeng, deputy director of the Climate Center of Yunnan Province, says the drought is a low-probability event. "It's like wining a prize in the lottery. In the long river of history, there's always one year in which such a drought takes place. If you think of it this way, things get much simpler," he said.

Is it really that simple? Though experts are still arguing over the causes of the worst drought in a century, the vast eucalyptus forests throughout the region are at least one hidden cause.

After Sinar Mas Group and Storan Enso, two leading paper-making manufacturers, launched projects in southwestern China in recent years, fast-growing eucalyptus trees have been massively promoted and planted, wiping out vast indigenous forests and natural weed trees.

Currently in Wenshan, Simao and Lincang, Yunnan Province, eucalyptus forests cover more than 20,000 square kilometers, in the wake of deals between Sinar Mas Group and local governments.

In Wenshan, Yunnan Province, despite the worries voiced by scholars from the very beginning, local officials showed great passion toward Sinar Mas Group's $1.8 billion investment, which was expected to bring 12,000 employment opportunities and annual value-added tax of 42.5 billion yuan ($6.22 billion).

Farmers, lured by higher pay, also joined the gigantic movement to plant fast-growing eucalyptus.

Nevertheless, the impact of the movement has been destructive. Eucalyptus, called the "despot tree" by locals, has gradually drawn out water and nutrients in the soil, and inhibited weeds, shrubs and herbal medicines. Animals can barely live on such bare land. And the special chemical fertilizer used in soil heavily pollutes water quality. In addition to the current drought, more unimaginable ecological costs are still ahead.

Due to its potential destruction of vegetation and water sources, Japan, Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia have all banned massive planting of fast-growing Eucalyptus to avoid ecological calamities. New Zealand also removed its previously planted mas-sive eucalyptus forests. Sinar Mas Group and Storan Enso, blamed for destroying ecological forests across the world, turned to China, well known for its emphasis on rapid economic development.

It's time for China to take action too.

Destructive eucalyptus forests should be removed, making room for ecologically sound forests. Paper-makers and local officials, who caused the situation with profit-oriented thinking, are now obliged to change it.

Local governments can provide these manufacturers with fund compensation and preferential policies in a bid to encourage them to change their current production mode. They should also urge the paper-makers to stop planting eucalyptus and help remove the destructive trees within a certain period.

Updating current paper-making practices is an urgent need, environmentally friendly paper-makers are called for, and wood resources should be used in a sustainable way.

ki-media.blogspot.com
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