Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Sihanouk-Hun Sen-Vietnamese Deadly Triangle

Reflections of An Expatriate on Cambodia's Past, Present, and Future

Naranhkiri Tith, Ph.D.

Sihanouk is well known for his ability to survive. But, what is less known is the reason why he was able to survive with the political upheavals in Cambodia during the last 30 years. The other question is while Sihanouk was able to survive but at what cost to the Cambodian people.

For instance, Sihanouk had allied himself with the murderous Khmer Rouge thus allowing these Cambodian communists to commit one of the worst atrocities in human history. Although he had always denied that he was the one who legitimized the Khmer Rouge by shifting the blame to others, especially to the United States bombing in Cambodia in the late 1960s, his collaboration with China on the one hand, and the Khmer Rouge close alliance with China on the other hand make it difficult to support Sihanouk's denial, as former US Congressman Steve Solarz has rightly pointed out that while the US bombing of Cambodia was a factor in the success of the Khmer Rouge in taking power in Cambodia, Sihanouk giving support to this group of mass murderers was a powerful signal to the rally of Cambodian peasants to the Khmer Rouge. Solarz namely said that:
"The fact that Sihanouk joined forces with the Khmer Rouge gave Pol Pot an opportunity to recruit much more effectively among the peasantry because he could recruit in the name of the prince. My guess is that had as much if not more to do with the ultimate success of the Khmer Rouge than the American bombing."

More recently, he again allied himself with another group of pro-Vietnamese communists under Hun Sen and the CPP, thereby legitimizing this Vietnamese-puppet regime and thereby allowing them to plunder the natural resources of Cambodia. This, in turn, makes Cambodians as one of the poorest people in the world, despite an enormous amount of assistance amounting to an average of US$ six hundreds millions per year generously given to Cambodia by the international community since 1991, and to open the door for Vietnamese illegal immigration with the collusion and support of Hun Sen and his CPP.

The question is why did Sihanouk act in this manner, which may have saved Sihanouk's prestige or political power, but at a high cost to the Cambodian people. The answer can be given by looking at Sihanouk's motivation behind these apparent contradictory alliances.

Sihanouk always thinks that he and he alone can protect Cambodia's interests and independence. At the same time, he never separates his personal interests and those of Cambodia. Because he always considers Cambodia as his private domain.

In addition, from carefully studying Sihanouk's practice of political maneuvers, one can observe that Sihanouk always believes in his own ability to out-smart his opponents. In so doing, he believes that he has a "win/win" strategy. For instance, he did not hesitate to ally himself with his worst enemies like Pol Pot or Hun Sen, because he was certain that he would be able to out-maneuver them. However, if for some reason he could not out-maneuver them, Sihanouk had a back-up strategy, which was to make sure that no other politicians in power were allowed succeed.

By doing so, he thought he could show the Cambodian people and the world that he is the only one who could solve the Cambodian problem.

I hope the following excerpts from a selected group of experts in Cambodian affairs would explain what I was trying to analyze in this introduction Sihanouk's mercurial behavior and chameleon-like politics and its deadly impact on the life of the vast majority of the Cambodian people.

Cambodia: Angkor Videos from the 1920's

Carl Parkes -- FriskoDude
Here's a pair of fascinating YouTube clips of a documentary made about Cambodia in the 1920's. Part One features rare footage of pre-restoration Bayon, while the second segment focuses on the royal dancers who performed for the king in Phnom Penh until they were sent off to Angkor for what appears to be tourist presentations.

Eco Soundings

John Vidal and David Adam
The Guardian
Wednesday February 13 2008

Bones of contention

In the normal world, green groups call for changes in government and everyone accuses the US of getting everything wrong. No more. The Royal Kingdom of Cambodia has just called for a regime change at the London-based group Global Witness (GW), which Cambodia's government argues is plotting against it "much in the way that dogs are happier to lick bones in the domestic waste". What is going on? It goes back to GW's investigation of deep corruption in the Cambodian logging industry that found links to all levels of government and, importantly, named names. This in turn resulted in the US refusing the visas of corrupt people named in the report, and clearly this is now hurting. Sadly, the UK government and the EU have declined to follow the US government's lead.

Temple area 'should be jointly managed'

Bangkok Post
Wednesday February 13, 2008

The area around the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the Thai-Cambodian border, which has been proposed as a World Heritage site, should be managed jointly by the two countries to avoid stirring up conflicts between them, a seminar was told yesterday.

Associate Professor Surachart Bamrungsuk, a military strategy expert at Chulalongkorn University's political science faculty, said at the seminar that the site proposed by Cambodia also covers a disputed common border area.

Therefore, until the dispute could be settled, the area should be jointly managed by the two neighbours so they could feel at ease with one another in dealing with the issue.

It is virtually impossible now to delay Cambodia's world heritage site application, and therefore working together would be the best way out, he said.

Under the joint management concept, both Thailand and Cambodia would benefit, said Assoc Prof Surachart.

The area could be developed into the region's new tourism magnet, he added.

It is unlikely that world heritage status for Preah Vihear would rule out Thailand's claim of sovereignty over the disputed area since it has nothing to do with border demarcation, he said.

''Demarcation problems in this region are a legacy of colonisation in the past, and obviously they are not easy to fix. However, we may find a way out of this if we just look beyond the border and look for an opportunity during a crisis,'' the academic said.

In 2001 Cambodia officially asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to put Phreah Vihear on the World Heritage List, and has since developed its proposal without Thailand's participation. Thailand last year protested against Cambodia's proposal at a World Heritage Committee meeting in New Zealand.

This resulted in a recommendation that the two neighbours work together on how to manage the site. Thailand is still waiting for Cambodia's response.

Preah Vihear is a cluster of ancient Khmer temples that sit atop a cliff in a border area claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that Cambodia has sovereignty over the temple ruins and parts of their surroundings

Prime Minister Strongly Criticized the Secretary General of the Sam Rainsy Party

Posted on 13 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“Kompong Thom: The defection of high-ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] led to verbal clashes between Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and the secretary general of the opposition party.

“On 11 February, during the inauguration ceremony of the Hun Sen Prasat High School in Prasat commune, Santuk district, Kompong Thom, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, considered the comments of Secretary General Eng Chhay Eang as Pol Pot language, language that had been used during the Pol Pot regime, and that the very bad words used should not have been used.

“This statement is a reaction responding to the accusation by Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, who had stated that the CPP had bought officials from other parties.

“In an article in the Cambodia Daily of 11 February, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang was quoted as saying, ‘Political parties should behave in an ethical way, saying that a political party should not buy people’.

“Samdech said that he has the obligation to protect human dignity. Human freedom can not be bought.

“With this statement, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had presented three [former] SRP officials who had just joined the Cambodian People’s Party last week, including Mr. Gnor Sovann, a member of the National Assembly [NA] from Kandal, Mr. Sok Pheng, a member of the NA from Kampong Thom, and Mr. Chhim Sarith, the deputy secretary general of the SRP, who were all present.

“Samdech Hun Sen highlighted that so far, seven SRP members of the NA had defected and joined other parties, three among them had already joined the CPP. Concerning the comment about selling or buying heads, as mentioned in the comment by the SRP official, Samdech Dekchor said, ‘How could Mr. Ngor Sovann and Mr. Sok Pheng, who hold positions as lawmakers, be considered as goods like chickens, ducks, or cattle, for sale?’ Samdech said that the words of ‘selling or buying heads’ is Pol Pot language that had been used during the Pol Pot regime, ‘I do not expect that in the 21st century people will still use such words.’

“Samdech Dekchor appealed to respect human dignity, and he considered the comment by an SRP’s leader as a sign by which they are just hiding their weaknesses. Their weaknesses made it difficult to stay for their former colleagues, and now they turned around to blame those officials who had defected to have their heads sold to someone else, and accused the CPP of buying them.

“Samdech Dekchor warned that they should improve their party internally, otherwise there will be some more persons who defect.

“Samdech Dekchor continued to say that the CPP welcomes all people from all sectors without classifying them as new or as old members. Samdech added that he wanted to eliminate the slogan, ‘When the river rises, the fish eat ants, when the river recedes, the ants eat the fish.’ Samdech said that in the past, when Lon Nol came to power, he took revenge on those who were faithful to Samdech Preah Sihanouk. When Pol Pot held power, they took revenge on the Lon-Nolists and on supporters of Samdech Euv [the Father King] as well. The later ones destroyed the previous ones. Samdech Hun Sen asked whether we should follow that way? As for those who prepare the way for the next generation, revenge should not be practiced within a party.

“Samdech Dekchor said that some politicians are busy with gambling. They play again and again; when they lost, they cheat others. Another politician is busy with women and destroys a party, and now he tries to pressure the King to allow him to return to the country, but Hun Sen can not help him. Others only accuse the government and the CPP.

“At the same time, Samdech Dekchor also stated the CPP’s stance to help the people. He added that if the CPP wins the election for the 4th mandate of the Royal Government, the CPP will still enter into a partnership with Funcinpec. Samdech showed his hope, he does not believe that Funcinpec will not get any seats. However, in case Funcinpec gains nothing, the CPP will form the government alone, and give some lower ranking positions to Funcinpec officials, such as undersecretary-of-state positions.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4513, 12.2.2008

Sacravatoon : A Blind Man

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

KI-MediaTuesday,Feb 12.2008On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a warning to all politicians to stop offending him by calling him “blind.” Hun Sen, whom his biography claimed that he lost an eye during the 1970-75 war, said that calling him “blind” is a very offensive word. The Cambodia Daily quoted Hun Sen as saying that: “We must value people with disabilities.” On his part, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said that he never used such terms to designate Hun Sen, and he said that he does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

Sacravatoon From Nokor Thom Newspaper 1973

Courtesy of Sacravatoon
This toon was published in Nokor Thom Newspaper.Soth Polin was the Editor.It had shown about US's Foreign Policy to sell Khmer,Laos & South Vietnamto Communist China.
To read more Please click link below:

Sacravatoons: SOS Cambodia

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Experts: Defections Could Mean 'Weaker' Democracy

By Mean Veasna,
VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
12 February 2008

Mean Veasna reports in Khmer (2.40 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Recent defections from the Sam Rainsy Party and others to the ruling party could hurt the opposition in upcoming elections, observers say, and that could hurt Cambodia’s democratic checks and balances.

The Sam Rainsy Party has said that several defections in recent weeks cleared the way for younger activists, but the switches have also strengthened the ruling party’s chances in July’s elections, several analysts said in recent interviews.

At least four opposition parliamentarians have left the Sam Rainsy Party after nearly a decade of party loyalty. Meanwhile at least 10 Funcinpec lawmakers have changed their party stripes, including two secretaries of state and an undersecretary.

The movement of lawmakers into one powerful party is a concern for the balance of Cambodia’s democratic system, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

“We are very worried that one powerful political party has so much power, and can control the parliament, government, authorities and all state management,” Koul Panha said. “If the opposition party is getting weaker, it could make democracy in Cambodia weaker.”

But both the SRP and Funcinpec have seen internal struggles in recent months, with some party members disillusioned with leadership.

Sok Peng, a former opposition lawmaker from Kampong Thom who moved to the CPP on Saturday, said he now admired the ruling party.

“I had been a steering committee member [for the SRP] since 1995, but now I cannot find any leader to lead the party forward,” he said. “The Sam Rainsy Party now doesn’t have a good leader to lead the country, and the internal process is not good.”

The CPP, meanwhile, was developing the country, he said.

Other lawmakers who have changed to the ruling party include Ahmad Yahya, a Muslim leader from Kampong Cham, and Ngor Sovann, from Kandal.

Some lawmakers have sought to move out of their parliamentary seats and into administrative provincial positions.

Others, like Chit Sarith, a former head of the land dispute authority for the SRP, have simply resigned.

Eng Chai Eang, SRP secretary-general, who has faced criticism from some defectors, told VOA Khmer the party is not facing an internal crisis.

“This is not related to the Sam Rainsy leadership,” he said. “However, a couple opposition party members who are looking for good positions or benefits in the government and defected to the CPP won’t make the Sam Rainsy Party have a crisis.”

Funcipec leaders declined to comment on the shifting allegiances, saying only that Cambodia’s political landscape is rapidly changing.

The CPP is demonstrating increased power to pull members into its fold, said Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc and a longtime Cambodia political observer.

“Some opposition parties thought that it wouldn’t affect their parties so much,” he said. “But the defections of some Funcinpec members into the CPP could.”

People who once supported Funcinpec could worry over the future of the party, he said.

The Sam Rainsy Party increased from 15 parliamentary seats in 1998 to 24 seats in 2003, while Funcinpec fell from 43 seats to 26 in the same period. The CPP has 73 of the National Assembly’s 123 seats.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said party affiliation was a personal choice.

“When we have more defectors to our party, then we have less people who always curse us,” he added. “We welcome anyone who participates with us.”

Observers say the CPP has enjoyed popularity of about 60 percent of the population, while Funcinpec’s popularity in the commune elections halved, thanks to a fracturing of members over the sacking of the party’s former president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Recent defections and the perception of internal conflict could especially hurt the non-ruling parties, observers say, especially if the smaller parties do not align with each other as the election approaches.

Exiled Prince Seeks Entry, Pardon

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
12 February 2008

Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer (885 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is running his own political party from exile in Malaysia, is trying to find a way back to Cambodia.

Prince Ranariddh faces an 18 month prison sentence on charges related to embezzlement if he returns to Cambodia, but he told VOA Khmer recently he will seek a pardon from his brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, who has been the monarch since 2004.

“I have no other choice,” Prince Ranariddh said. “I know that my case is a political case.”

The prince said he had appealed through the legal system and lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court, but if the courts uphold his18-month sentence and $150,00 fine, he will ask the king for a constitutional pardon.

Prime Minister Hun Sen alluded to the prince on Monday, saying at a ceremony in Kampong Thom that “some people…made the party broken and discredited, and now want to come back to the country.”

“Hun Sen does not know about this and cannot help,” the prime minister said.

Two More Opposition Lawmakers Defect

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
12 February 2008

Chiep Mony reports in Khmer (1.20 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Two more senior opposition officials have moved to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, officials said Tuesday.

The party shift from Lon Phon and Yin Socheat comes following remarks by Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday welcoming opposition officials into the CPP fold.

Lon Phon had been a member of the SRP working group for Dankao district, Phnom Penh, and a parliamentarian for Battambang province.

Yin Socheat had been a deputy chief in the SRP legal department and an envoy for opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Both men have officially resigned from the party.

“What I struggled for very hard and what I had sacrificed so far made me hopeless,” Lon Phon said following his resignation.

He said he had applied for a CPP position following a conversation with Hun Sen by phone Monday night.

PM Rules Out Coalition Alternatives

By Win Thida,
VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
12 February 2008

Thida Win reports in Khmer (567 KB) - Listen (MP3)

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party will not seek coalition partners other than Funcinpec—if it needs any at all—after national polls in July, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday.

“If the CPP has enough strength to form a government by itself, the CPP will do so without any political parties,” Hun Sen said, speaking at the opening ceremony of a college in Kampong Thom.

The prime minister’s announcement comes amid confidence in the opposition Sam Rainsy Party it can take a majority of seats in the elections, which are scheduled for July 27.

“The Sam Rainsy Party believes that because we serve the interests of the people, we will receive enough votes to lead the country,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy said.

The government recently passed a law requiring 50 percent of parliamentary seats plus one to form a ruling party, a change from the 66 percent of the past.

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said Monday the CPP had been governing the country alone for many years.

"THE LEADERS" Interview with Hun Sen

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Cambodia's 'Brother No.2' Appeals Detention

The trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders continues in Cambodia today, as the so-called Brother No. 2 is appealing to be released before his trial. Here's more:

STORY: Brother No. 2 is the most senior Khmer Rouge official still alive. He was Pol Pot's second-in-command, and is said to be the architect of the Khmer Rouge's sweeping execution policies.

He was taken into custody on Sept. 8 last year, and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Public interest in the trial is mixed. For many young Cambodians, the Khmer Rouge years are a part of the past. But publicity of the tribunal has made them eager to know more about their country's history.

[Sour Khuoch, Farmer]: quote req.

"I want to know why they created this regime and I want to know why they killed their own people.

In four years, almost around a quarter of Cambodia's population died of starvation, disease, overwork, torture, and execution during the Khmer Rouge regime.

At that time, the cities were emptied, education was outlawed, and currency was abandoned as the Khmer Rouge attempted to re-create history with communist ideology.

Chea is one of five senior Khmer Rouge officials who have been arrested so far. The actual tribunal will start after all the appeals are heard later this year.

Meeting between FBI director Robert Mueller and Hun Sen

FBI Director Robert Mueller speaking at meeting with Hun Sen on 30 January, where he thanked thanked Hun Xen and the Royal Government of Cambodia for authorizing the creation of the legal attache office in Cambodia.

Acts of kindness
February 12, 2008

Giving free eye care to dozens of patients who badly needed it was only part of what made Pamela Schultz's one-week trip to Cambodia in December an unforgettable experience.

The more rewarding part, Schultz says, was teaching medical professionals in Cambodia the techniques she uses as an ophthalmic surgical nurse at Rush University Medical Center.

Schultz was with an international team of eye specialists who screened patients and performed surgeries aboard the "Flying Eye Hospital," a DC-10 that doubles as an operating room. The plane is operated by ORBIS International, which targets blindness in developing countries.

Cambodia has the worst blindness rate in Southeast Asia. Schultz has also been to Bangladesh and Jamaica with ORBIS.

Being able to show doctors and nurses in other countries what she's learned in her 40-plus years as a nurse was "an amazing thing," she says.

"Nurses don't make a lot of money, but I have a lot of knowledge to share. To share with people so vitally interested in learning new things, you think you're giving them a million dollars."