Bilateral talk with Cambodia may be held to resolve border conflict: Thai minister

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 02, 2010
Xinhua

A bilateral talk with Cambodia may be held in a bid to seek solution to the ongoing conflict over the Preah Vihear Temple, Thailand's Natural and Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti said on Monday.

The Thai News Agency (TNA) reported that the natural and environment minister was speaking in Thailand's capital Bangkok shortly after he returned from Brazil, where he attended the annual 34th meeting of the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC).

It is expected that next month the WHC panel will present Cambodia's management plan for the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple to Thailand, Suvit said.

After obtaining the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear Temple, Thailand will look into details of the plan in a bid to protect the country's sovereignty, he said.

However, the Thai side will keep abiding by international laws to find the solution to the conflict, the Thai minister said.

The Thai people and concerned organizations will be informed of the development to be made on the Preah Vihear Temple, Suvit said.

During the meeting on July 29, the WHC decided to reschedule its discussion on Cambodia's management plan to its annual meeting in Bahrain in 2011.

Prior to the WHC decision to postpone its discussion, Thailand threatened to walk out of the WHC meeting if the panel considered the Cambodian plan since the Thai side had not yet looked into details of the plan, which was handed in by Cambodia to the WHC panel just shortly before the meeting.

Thailand and Cambodia have historically laid claim to the site, which is located on a mountain top on the Thai-Cambodia border. The disputed area of 4.6 square kilometers has not been demarcated.

In 1962 the International Court of Justice ruled that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia. But, the 11th-century temple can only be easily accessed from Thailand.
READ MORE - Bilateral talk with Cambodia may be held to resolve border conflict: Thai minister

[Thai] Minister Suwit: Thailand may receive Cambodia's temple management plan in September

BANGKOK, Aug 2 (MCOT online news) - Thailand's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti on Monday said Cambodia will send its management plan for the ancient Preah Vihear temple to Thailand in September and concerned agencies will have to study it thoroughly.

Mr Suwit commented as he and the Thai delegation returned from Brazil and the 34th annual meeting of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Commission (WHC) which ends Tuesday. They were in Brasilia to oppose Cambodia's unilaterally proposed management plan for the historic Hindu temple and its environs.

The World Heritage Commission on Thursday agreed to postpone reviewing the Cambodian plan until next year when the WHC meets in Bahrain after Thailand, led by Mr Suwit, threatened to review its membership. At the same time a number of Thais rallied at the UNESCO regional headquarters in Bangkok last week, calling on the commission to hold off on its consideration of the issue.

Mr Suwit thanked the Thai public for expressing their objection to Cambodia's move, as well as members of his team for their work in Brazil despite pressure and tension, especially when negotiating with the Cambodian representatives.

The Thai delegation head reaffirmed what he termed as that the stance of Thailand on the issue is clear and creative. Thailand is not seen as a villain in the eyes of other countries and many countries have congratulated the kingdom's success at Brazil.

The Thai minister said the officials are now preparing to look through documents of the Cambodian management plan which is expected to be sent to them in September, to see the map details and conditions or attachment which may lead to further conflict.

Preah Vihear was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962. UNESCO named the temple a World Heritage site in 2008, after Cambodia applied for the status while dispute over 4.6 sq km contested land between the two countries remains unsolved.

Under the terms of the listing, Cambodia is required to submit a management plan for WHC approval, but Thailand insisted that the matter should not be discussed unless the two neighbours first resolve their dispute over the zone adjacent to the temple.

Meanwhile, the Thailand's First Army Area Commander Lt-Gen Kanit Sapithak said Monday that the army is ready to protect the country's sovereignty but there has been no movement of Cambodian troops.

Gen Kanit however said the military ties between the two neighbours remains good and both agreed at the last month's regional Border Committee (RBC) that they will not use force against each other if any problem arises, but will solve it through talks at a local level first.

The Thai army first area commander said he hoped the good military ties between Thailand and Cambodia will help ease the tensed situation and conflict.
READ MORE - [Thai] Minister Suwit: Thailand may receive Cambodia's temple management plan in September

Letter from Gao Hongying on comment posted on KI-Media

KI-Media Note: Dear Readers, we just received the following email from Gao Hongying regarding a comment posted by a former employee of the Vietnamese company Sacombank. Gao Hongying did not indicate in his email his relationship with Sacombank, only to warn us to pay attention to his email which we have reproduced below. In our opinion, there is no reason for us to revise somebody else's article content or remove it unless a gross error has been made which we do not believe that was the case.
  • Firstly, if the Sacombank feels that it has been slighted by our comment, this bank should have sent us an official letter asking to clarify the situation and we would have gladly obliged.
  • Secondly, Gao Honying did not provide any indication of his relationship to this bank either, furthermore, the email address he uses (webmaster@chasoft.net) to send the email below to us does not provide any clue that Gao Hongying is related in anyway to Sacombank.
  • Thirdly, the anonymous author who posted the original comment did not use the words "illegal and unethical" in his/her statement, we at KI-Media take responsibility for using these words as the header to the comment. Should Gao Hongying himself reads the explanation in that article, then Gao Hongying would be able to understand where, in our mind, these words would come from.
  • Fourthly, we believe that, logically, if we were to remove this article, why then should we make revision to the article as suggested by Gao Hongying (you MUST make a revision on the content of that article and remove it immediately) in the first place?
Sincerely,

KI-Media team

Dear KI-Media TEAM,

Please pay attention to my email because this is really a very serious issue!!!

Two days ago, i read an article on your website with the title "Illegal and unethical employment practive against Khmer employees at the Viet Sacombank in Cambodia?". I think you MUST make a revision on the content of that article and remove it immediately.

In this article, a man who resigned from a company with a reason "the company decrease his salary after probationary period", then he accused the company for Illegal and unethical", more than that, he hurt all vietnamese company in Cambodia, especially all Vietnamese! After probationary period, anything can happen. The company can terminate his contract, increase or decrease this sallary. And any other companies will do the same! So what is "Illegal and unethical" here. If he don't accept the offer, he can resign as he did. But he did accuse the company is completely wrong. And I can see that all readers, they don't pay attention to the core problem of that man, they seem only care about the title only and then there are many unsuitable comments.

I just want the KI-Media TEAM read the article carefully and do the appopriate action. Thank you very much!

Best regards,
hongying
READ MORE - Letter from Gao Hongying on comment posted on KI-Media

Thomico's Open letter to Thai PM ... But, Prince, where is your open letter to the Viet leaders on Viet encroachments?

Click on the letters in English and French to zoom in
Cliquez sur les letters en anglais et fran├žais pour aggrandir





Beijing
August 2, 2010

His Excellency Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
Care of the Royal Thai Embassy
Phnom Penh
Kingdom of Cambodia

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

Please convey to His Majesty the King of Thailand my very respectful homages and my wishes for a long life, good health and a long and prosperous reign.

I present to Your Excellency and to the eminent members of the Royal Thai Government as well my compliments.

I feel great admiration for the impressive economic, social and cultural development that the Kingdom of Thailand has achieved in recent decades, and particularly for the strong commitment to education that has underpinned the country’s rise. And I feel particularly grateful to the Kingdom of Thailand for the important role it played in the recent past to help Cambodia recover her sovereignty and put an end to two decades of conflict and suffering.

The Khmer people have no other desire than to heal the wounds of the past and live peacefully. As a member of the international community, of global and regional organizations, Cambodia wishes to achieve its development in harmony with every country, to nurture and reinforce relationships of friendship and cooperation with every nation, and above all with our direct neighbors.

The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand have a long history together, marked indeed by conflicts but also by periods of peace during which exchanges between the two countries have greatly benefited both. We share a common civilization, culture, and religion. Whatever may separate us is not as strong as that which binds us together.

For these reasons it has been especially painful to witness the fast deterioration of relations between our two countries over the last two years. Both our populations are easily stirred by the ultra-nationalistic rhetoric of a minority. But a calm appraisal of history should make it clear that the territorial claims that have so animated the recent popular and political discourse in Thailand have no basis.

That history, in fact, is not a pretty one. The borders between our two countries have indeed been imposed on us by colonial powers who respected nothing but their own interests. While the Kingdom of Thailand was not colonized by Western powers, Khmers and Thais both can rightfully consider themselves victims of this colonial past. I understand the feeling of injustice borne by the Thai people against the impositions made on them by foreign powers. As a Cambodian, I cannot forget that the Governor of Cochinchina, Charles Thomson, arrayed guns in front of the Royal Palace to force HM King Norodom to sign the infamous 1884 Convention. Neither do I forget that the 1896 Convention was adopted by the United Kingdom and France in contempt of both Cambodia and Thailand.

The current Thai territorial claims, just like the 1954 fait accompli against Preah Vihear, use geographical criteria as justification, and as demonstration of how unjust the 1904 Border Treaty was. Natural features such as streams, watershed boundaries, mountain ridges, and escarpment lines, are indeed used to demarcate borders between countries. Bear in mind, however, that ethnic and linguistic considerations are also important criteria. From this point of view, it is undeniable that the 1904 Border Treaty left millions of Khmers separated from their motherland. Cambodia has been torn apart and left in pieces by foreign powers in full contempt of the aspirations of its people. If our two nations have a claim to historical injustice, it should be clear that Cambodia bears the greater burden.

In that era, it must be noted, a people’s right to self-determination was not yet part of international law. Nonetheless, the result today is that more Khmers are living outside of Cambodia, including in Thailand, than on Cambodian soil. Should ethnic and linguistic criteria have been used to demarcate the borders between Cambodia and Thailand, the outcome would have been completely different.

The example of ex-Yugoslavia, artificially created by the superpowers in full contempt of the regional historical, cultural, religious and ethnic realities, the ensuing conflicts of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo show how fragile those manipulations are and how evil their consequences have been.

In this regard, and as far as nationalistic overbidding is concerned, Cambodia could rightfully be in a position to denounce the 1904 Treaty in order to take into consideration the ethnic and linguistic criteria. Then there would be no Preah Vihear issue as the temple and its surroundings would consequently be located deep inside Cambodia -- where they belong.

But ever since full independence in 1953, under the leadership of then-Prince Sihanouk, Cambodia has only demanded the de jure recognition by its neighbors and by the international community of its borders in accordance with treaties imposed in the 20th century. This is still true today: Cambodia has no other claim.

Our two nations are fated to live side by side. We are both members of ASEAN, a regional organization which aspires, as the European Union has done, to open borders among nations to free the creative energies that are the source of sustainable development. Raising territorial claims is a futile attempt that flies in the face of history, and that harms our peoples by diverting significant resources that could otherwise be invested in development and the fight against poverty on both sides of our shared border.

As a Cambodian - and I am convinced that millions of Khmers do share my feeling - my dearest wish, Your Excellency, would be to see Preah Vihear standing as the enduring symbol of the reconciliation between our two nations, of the harmony of our relationship, and a model of fruitful cooperation between two neighbors.

Please accept, Mr. Prime Minister, the assurances of my very high consideration.

(signed) Sisowath Thomico
READ MORE - Thomico's Open letter to Thai PM ... But, Prince, where is your open letter to the Viet leaders on Viet encroachments?

Letter to Unesco on Preah Vihear

To:
1) Susan Williams, Chief, Media Section: Bureau of Public Info.
Email: s.williams@unesco.org
Tel: 33(0)145 68 17 06

2) Isabelle LE FOURNIS, Press Attache: Bureau of Public Info.
Email: i.le-fournis@unesco.org
Tel: 33(0) 145 68 1748

3) Djibril KEBE, Press Attache:
Bureau of Public Info.
Email: d.kebe@unesco.org
Tele: 33(0) 145 68 1741

Dear Sir/Madams,

I am writing to express my disappointment over Unesco's capitulation to Thai bully over Preah Vihear that lead to the delay of the implementation of the temple's management plans put forward by Cambodia at a meeting in Brazil recently.

Unesco is well aware that Preah Vihear is a Cambodian temple and the temple surrounding areas are Cambodian territories under the 1907 Franco-Siamese Treaty, the 1908 map accepted by the then Thai king and the 1962 judgement of the International Court of Justice. As such Cambodia is well within its right to list the temple as a world heritage site and then to manage the temple as it sees fit. However, Thailand has bullied Unesco to delay the inscription of the temple for at least three times and then now delayed the implementation of the temple's management again.

I am convinced that Unesco is well within its right to approve the temple's listing and the temple's management plans regardless of Thailand's objections by following international laws and the verdict of the International Court of Justice. We Cambodians hope that Unesco would not allow Thailand hold Preah Vihear hostage any longer due to its hegemonic ambitions.

Yours sincerely,
(signed)
Khmerization
READ MORE - Letter to Unesco on Preah Vihear

Thailand couldn't even properly maintain the Ayutthaya World Heritage site: How can it dream of co-managing Preah Vihear?

Vendor eyesore imperils heritage

SPECIAL REPORT: Government needs to clean things up in ancient city if it is to keep its world standing.

2/08/2010
Lamphai Intathep and Saritdet Marukatat from Ayutthaya
Bangkok Post


Thailand has a new world heritage worry, in addition to the Preah Vihear temple.

In the old capital of Ayutthaya, which holds world heritage status, unlicensed vendors cause an eyesore and resist attempts by authorities to move them.

Officials fear that unless the problem is solved in the next few months, Thailand could end up losing world heritage status over the historic city.

The government's management of Ayutthaya will come under scrutiny when the 21-member World Heritage Committee (WHC) meets in Bahrain next year.

The panel confers world heritage status - and can take it away if a country fails to take care of a listed site.

Thailand has to present a report on how it is managing its five world heritage sites, including Ayutthaya.

At stake is millions of baht in tourist earnings and hundreds of local jobs.

At the WHC meeting now in progress in Brazil, it postponed a decision last week on Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear temple, after furious protests by Thailand.

The government was upset that the plan included part of a disputed area on the border between the countries.

Thailand hopes to make progress with Cambodia on the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area before the next meeting in Bahrain.

However, it will have to face up to another world heritage challenge by then as well.

Ayutthaya was awarded world heritage status by the WHC - part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - in 1991.

Every six years each continent has to submit a report to the WHC to show members whether it is taking good care of its world heritage sites.

Any site failing to impress the committee will receive a warning. The host country has three to five years to clean up its act.

If there is no improvement, the WHC can put the site on its danger list. The final punishment is removing the site from the list.

Next time it is Asia's turn to report on world heritage sites under its care.

The kingdom's five world heritage sites are Ayutthaya, the Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries, the Dong Phayayen forest complex, Ban Chiang archaeological site and the Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet historical parks.

In Ayutthaya, authorities are racing against time to find a solution to illegal vendors. The WHC meets again in 12 months.

"If the periodic report on Ayutthaya was submitted this year, it would fail," said deputy permanent secretary for culture Somsuda Leyavanija, who sits on the WHC for Thailand.

"It will be an embarrassment for Thais if Ayutthaya is put on the danger list."

The nature of the Ayutthaya site makes the conservation effort difficult as it is the only "living monument" in Thailand where the old compound and town are close to each other.

Local authorities and the Fine Arts Department have to make sure any structures which go up will not damage or obstruct the historical sites.

But the real problem for Ayutthaya, which puts the old capital in danger of being taken off of the list, is at Wat Mongkol Borpitr.

The temple is the Ayutthaya historic park's main tourist attraction, visited by millions a year. It is also a magnet for vendors selling souvenirs.

The Fine Arts Department built the area about 300 metres from the temple for 146 licensed souvenir sellers.

But about 400 illegal souvenir sellers have set up business about 50 metres from the temple.

The ministry and department tried to move the unlicensed sellers out but they refused to do so.

The vendors are reluctant to move, partly because the local administrative organisation has built makeshift areas for the sellers which are closer to the temple.

The Culture Ministry and Fine Arts Department say the makeshift areas are too close to the temple and diminish its aesthetic appeal.

Officials have tried to evict the traders for years, without success. Local politicians take sides with the vendors, which prolongs the problem, officials said.

Officials from Bangkok find it hard to talk to the vendors. "If the traders get a tip-off that an official car is in town, they quickly close the stalls and disperse," Ms Somsuda said.

"I used to drive to the site and talk to those vendors. But now they remember my face and know who I am," she said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has assigned Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban to supervise attempts to end the eyesore at Wat Mongkol Borpitr.

The government has given 141 million baht to the department to end makeshift stalls at the temple by building another souvenir area for unlicensed sellers.

Tourist buses, another eyesore, will be banned from the site as the department will provide visitors with trams to tour the area. The plan is expected to be complete in November.

The department also plans to create a conservation zone for the old capital, which will include a core zone of 1,810 rai on Ayutthaya island to help the department manage the area, said Methadol Wichakana, head of the Ayutthaya historic park.

The island alone has 99 ancient temples and more than 500 historic sites in the surrounding area.

Officials hope that when the new souvenir area is complete, vendors will move out and end their defiance of authority. "All parties involved have to enter talks in the right spirit, by leaving behind personal interests," Ms Somsuda said. "People have to focus on how to protect the ancient site and make it sustainable rather than plundering it for advantage."

Chalermpol Polmuk, of the humanities and social sciences faculty at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Rajabhat University, said Thais were keener on taking advantage of Ayutthaya's world heritage status than trying to preserve it for future generations.

"Traders think only about how to make money," said Mr Chalermpol.

"Local politicians think about how to keep good relations with the traders rather than preserving the place's historic value."
READ MORE - Thailand couldn't even properly maintain the Ayutthaya World Heritage site: How can it dream of co-managing Preah Vihear?

Politiktoons No. 113: General Than Shwe


Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at http://politiktoons.blogspot.com
and also at http://sacrava.blogspot.com)
READ MORE - Politiktoons No. 113: General Than Shwe

Cambodian Defence Ministry to introduce military conscription soon Monday, 2 August 2010


By Khmerization
Source: Yun Samean, Radio Free Asia


A senior Cambodian Defence Ministry official said on 1st August that the ministry is poised to introduce a military conscription soon after the military reservist conscription sub-decree was signed by the king , reports Radio Free Asia.

Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said the conscription is necessary to prepare the military force for the defence of the country. He said the conscription will start as soon as the sub-decree was signed by King Sihamoni.

He said the military reserve conscription will include recalling of contracted soldiers, professional retired soldiers or those who retired from the military before retiring age. The new conscripts will be required to perform military duties between 3 to 4 months.

Gen. Chhum Socheat said there is no decision of how many reservists will be conscripted or recruited, saying it all depends on the budget approved by the parliament.

He said the military reserves are established in accordance with article 5 of the Military Duty Act which requires that all Cambodian citizens aged 18 to 30 years to enter a compulsory military service. Gen. Chhum Socheat said the ministry will not fully implement the Military Duty Act yet, saying that the recruitment will be based on voluntary basis at this stage because the Defence Ministry did not have enough budget yet.

Mr. Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, said despite the government planning to increase the national budget, the government did not yet have any plan to increase defence budget. He said the 2010 national defence budget will be $500 million. And because the government wants to reduce military expenditures, the government had introduced the controversial Army-Business Partnership Scheme which would allow private businesses to fund certain military units. Mr. Cheam Yeap said Cambodia must prepare itself for war to defence its territory, but it does not means that Cambodia wants to cause a war with any nation.

Gen. Chhum Socheat said the new conscription is not done in response to the current border dispute with Thailand, saying that Cambodia currently has enough troops to defend the nation.

There is a military imbalance between Cambodia and Thailand. According to the U.S Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) website, Cambodia has only 6 million military age population, while Thailand has 35 million military age population.

Mr. Yim Sovan, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said military reservists must be recruited based on a voluntary basis rather than a forced conscription. He said he is concerned that there will be corruption in the conscription process whereby only poor people will be conscripted while the rich and the powerful will be exempted.
READ MORE - Cambodian Defence Ministry to introduce military conscription soon Monday, 2 August 2010

Illegal Viet loggers go free ... Illegal Cambodian loggers go to jail: Life in the CPP kingdoom?

Three illegal Vietnamese loggers arrested and released

Monday, 2 August 2010
By Khmerization
Source: Kong Yuthnea, Radio Free Asia


Three Vietnamese illegal loggers, along with 2 motorbikes and two electric saws, had been arrested on 29th July while illegally logging inside Cambodian territory in O'Thmor Da village of Keo Seima district in Mondulkiri province, but were immediately released, reports Radio Free Asia.

Officials from the Conservation Department denied that there were any arrests of the Vietnamese illegal loggers, but confirmed the confiscations of 2 motorbikes and 2 electric saws. However, villagers said everybody had seen with their own eyes that the trio were being handcuffed by the military police. "Three Vietnamese, 2 electric saws and 2 motorbikes. Officials from the Conservation Department went down to the area and arrested them on the spot. There were plenty of villagers along the road witnessing the arrests. They saw the trio being arrested and bundled into a police car and saw the military police transporting them on motorbikes with their hand cuffed, most people saw it. According to the information, conservation officials fined them $1,000 each", he said.

A local official had also confirmed the arrests of the three Vietnamese.

However, Mr. Peth Peaktra, Deputy Director of Conservation Department of Keo Seima district, denied that there were any arrests of any Vietnamese. But official who was sent to conduct investigation at Keo Seima district had confirmed that three Vietnamese were in fact arrested, but immediately released after they paid $3,000 in bribes for the release. "Officials from Keo Seima Conservation Department had arrested the three (Vietnamese) loggers and they were paid $3,000 in bribes by those Vietnamese for their release. This is very true. Why did the conservation officials did like this? But for our Khmer people who didn't even log any trees, but just used their tractors to transport some timbers for other people, they, along with their tractors, were arrested and detained without food until today?", he said.

Mr. Song Pheang, director of Mondulkiri Forestry Department, said he had received a report from conservation officials that no Vietnamese were arrested. Only 2 electric saws and 2 motorbikes were seized. "The report didn't say that any people were arrested, but according to laws, any people who were arrested must be sent to court for prosecutions", he said.

In the past, there were reports that many Vietnamese illegal loggers were arrested for illegally logging inside Cambodian territory, but were often released without charge.
READ MORE - Illegal Viet loggers go free ... Illegal Cambodian loggers go to jail: Life in the CPP kingdoom?

All Cambodians must lobby Unesco for Preah Vihear


By Mora Mao

Our Cambodian government and people must not let our guard down, this is the second time that UNESCO committee members have delayed or postponed the final consideration whether to approve our plan or to reject our plan. Now the Unesco's World Heritage Commission is now expected to reach a decision on the Preah Vihear temple during its meeting in Bahrain next year, and no body know what decision the UNESCO members will be rendered next year. Now, we must discuss among ourselves and consult with the experts of how to pursue this matter to a true victory resolution. Our Cambodian government must present every documents and arguments to influence the decision makers, to show why they should approve our plan, and why the Thai made illegitimate claim. Our Cambodian people inside the country and all over the world must unite together to call, email, send letter to UNESCO Members and to rally all over the world to protest against the Thai that they falsified this claim and to influence and support UNESCO members to ultimately approve our Preah Vihear Temple Management Plan. Below are some members at the UNESCO Bureau.

1) Susan Williams, Chief, Media Section: Bureau of Public Info.
Email: s.williams@unesco.org
Tel: 33(0)145 68 17 06

2) Isabelle LE FOURNIS, Press Attache: Bureau of Public Info.
Email: i.le-fournis@unesco.org
Tel: 33(0) 145 68 1748

3) Djibril KEBE, Press Attache:
Bureau of Public Info.
Email: d.kebe@unesco.org
Tele: 33(0) 145 68 1741

OR log on to: UNESCO.ORG to express your feeling, please use proper wordings. Thanks to everyone and congratulation to our fellow Cambodians all over the world.
READ MORE - All Cambodians must lobby Unesco for Preah Vihear

The Khmer Rouge tribunal


Mon, 08/02/2010
Pokpong Lawansiri, London
Opinion
The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

The UN-Cambodia hybrid Khmer Rouge Tribunal, known formally as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), delivered its first verdict of the Kaing Guek Eav or “Duch” on July 26.

Duch was the torturer-in-chief of the S-21 prison during the rule of the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were believed to have been killed or died from hard labor and starvation during this period.

The ECCC is also in the process of investigating four senior KR members on the charge of crime against humanity.

They are Nuon Chea (KR Second-in-command after Pol Pot), Ieng Sary (KR Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs), Ieng Thirith (KR Minister of Social Affairs and Education), and Khieu Samphan (KR Head-of-State).

Has the progress of the ECCC, which started its trial in March of 2009 been up to the expectation of the political observers? Here is criticism and concern underlying the ECCC.

First, the ECCC is believed to have been suffering from political interference from Phnom Penh. Early this month, the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) issued a report highlighting the impediment facing the ECCC after the UN prosecutor wanted to extend the investigation to include five more suspects, apart from the existing five that are being investigated by the ECCC.

PM Hun Sen’s response was that: “If the court wants to charge more senior Khmer Rouge cadres, the court must show the reasons to Prime Minister Hun Sen…Hun Sen only protects the peace of the nation.”

The agreement, which established the ECCC that was made between the UN and Cambodia, underlines the responsibility of Phnom Penh to give full assistance to the ECCC.

With the recent decision by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a UN special expert on the ECCC, we shall see whether the issue of political interference will be thoroughly addressed.

Second, the mandate of the ECCC has been much politicized and is limited to trying the atrocities committed during the KR period of April 1975 to January 1979.

In his interview with the Phnom Penh Post, Noam Chomsky, the emeritus professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pointed out that “the leading US political establishment like Henry Kissinger, a member of the late president Richard Nixon’s administration…should also be held accountable for creating the conditions that paved the way for the rise of the [KR]”.

While acknowledging the mass atrocities committed by the KR regime, we shall never forget the level of atrocities committed during the US secretive bombing of Cambodia from 1968-1973.

The map of US bombing points released by Yale University’s Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP) shows that more than half of the country was affected by the indiscriminate bombings.

Professor Ben Kierman, director of the program, puts the casualties figure from the bombing at 150,000 deaths, while Edward Herman, the professor of Wharton School, and Noam Chomsky put the figure at 600,000 using the figure provided by the Finnish Commission of Inquiry.

Based on this, we can never naively claim that US bombing led to the mass executions by the KR or refuted the mass atrocities by the KR regime.

But, to a certain extent, the blanket bombing, which directly led to the destruction of livestock and food planting areas, could definitely play a role in the mass starvations due to the lack of food due to follow during KR’s rules.

Last, what is the implication that the ECCC and the atrocious history of Cambodia will have on the region of Southeast Asia? Can we learn any lesson from Cambodia and prevent such atrocities from happening again?

As the ECCC’s trials are being conducted, very little attention has been given by Southeast Asia governments to learn from this. Beside, the historical understanding of this period of history in Cambodia remains a mystery and are kept out of the school textbooks.

Many scholars argue that ASEAN states do not want to talk about the ECCC so much for fearing that its role in relation to the atrocity could be exposed.

“ASEAN has been largely silent on the issue of the KR” said Dr. Lee Jones, a Southeast Asia expert from the Department of Politics at Queen Mary University of London “[It] also reflects the often-ignored fact that ASEAN also backed the [KR], materially and diplomatically, once they had been overthrown by Vietnam….They sheltered, re-armed and helped rebuild the [KR], and helped them retain Cambodia’s seat at the UN, so they could form a buffer against Vietnam, fueling a decade-long civil war.

Just like China and the US…regional governments would prefer their grisly collaboration with the [KR] to be quietly forgotten rather than exposed to scrutiny.”

With all these issues and concerns in mind, we shall await and see if the ECCC can improve and develop into a tribunal where it will offer to Cambodians the genuine justice that is not based on selectivity and discrimination.

And whether it can shed light on finding truth in the roles of different actors in a conflict, which is still affecting one of the poorest countries in the world to this day.

With the recent decision by Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special expert, we shall see whether the issue of political interference will be thoroughly addressed.

The writer is a World Bank scholar at the Department of Political Science, University College London. Views here are the author’s own.
READ MORE - The Khmer Rouge tribunal

A hand up for Cambodia’s poor




August 2, 2010
Catholic News Asia

This Catholic Relief Services video features a microfinance project being carried out in Cambodia called “Thanakea Phum Cambodia” (TPC) - which means Village Bank Cambodia.

TPC gives small loans to motivated, hardworking people who want to support their families. This video, uploaded to YouTube in May, looks at how three beneficiaries changed their lives with help from the project.
READ MORE - A hand up for Cambodia’s poor

Only balding ole boys and ole gals in this "ole Boy" Scouts group?

Xok An (2nd from left) presenting the scout's scarf to Phay Siphan, his mouthpiece, on 01 June 2010. It's interesting to note that no pictures of children/youths who were presented with scarfs were shown in the youth-oriented event, only that of the chief and his indian. (Photo: PQRU)

OUR SINCERE APOLOGIES TO Reader Wattanak:

Yes, Sir, you are right, we erred. So ladies and gentlemen, please read the correct caption as follows:

Xok An (2nd from left) presenting the scout's scarf to Phay Siphan, his mouthpiece, on 01 June 2010. It's interesting to note that no pictures of children/youths who were presented with scarfs were shown in the youth-oriented event, only that of the thief and his thief (oops another mistake, we meant: "of the chief and his mischief")
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READ MORE - Only balding ole boys and ole gals in this "ole Boy" Scouts group?

 
 
 

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