Sam Rainsy Seeking Return With Elections on the Horizon Sam Rainsy, who is currently in the UK, is expected to meet a number of foreign lawmakers in a bid to resolve the charges against him ahead of the elections. (Photo: VOA) Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer Phnom Penh Wednesday, 22 September 2010 “I will also go to Canada and to the United States to meet with lawmakers and senators. I expect there will be a movement of the lawmakers from these two countries.” Click here to listen to the audio program (MP3) Sam Rainsy, the main opposition leader, sought outside help to return to the country this week. But the government has so far shown no willingness to allow it, and observers said the move could signal concern for his political future. Sam Rainsy is facing criminal charges for publishing a map alleging Vietnamese encroachment on his party's website and a two-year jail term for uprooting markers along the Vietnamese border last year, which the court said was an attempt to incite racial hatred. “We wish to see a political compromise,” said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, who said Sam Rainsy's appeal marked “concern” for his party's political bids in commune elections in 2012 and national elections in 2013. Such compromise would have to come from “the participation of a third party,” he said. Sam Rainsy, who is currently in the UK, is expected to meet a number of foreign lawmakers in a bid to resolve the charges against him ahead of the elections. In an open letter on Monday to the Interparliamentary Union, the European Commission and the parliaments of France and Italy, Sam Rainsy called for “solidarity” to “pressure the authorities of Cambodia” to allow him to return as a lawmaker. He cited “persecution” from the ruling party, which he called “totalitarian” in its governance. Reached by phone in the UK, Sam Rainsy said he was confident his European counterparts would “intervene for the respect of democratic principals.” However, government spokesman Phay Siphan said Sam Rainsy had made a “grave mistake” in seeking international pressure against the government. It was the courts that had found him guilty, not the administration, he said. “Cambodia is not the slave of anyone,” he said. “Cambodia is an independent country.” The president of the ruling party CPP and president of Senate Chea Sim last week denied to intervene to restore the parliamentarian immunity of Sam Rainsy as the opposition party requested him. Ngoun Nhel, second vice president of the National Assembly, said the appeal signaled a “hopelessness in his politics” and suggested Sam Rainsy was losing the ear of US leaders. “I [recently] met with leaders of Congress,” he said. “They said he suggested to them to do this or that, but they did not follow.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen this week said in public remarks he would not consider intervening on behalf of Sam Rainsy, even if his political opponent requested it. For his part, Sam Rainsy, whose party holds 26 National Assembly seats, said the court cases against him were motivated by politics and would require a political solution. In October, he said, he plans to take his message to the annual Interparliamentarian Union meeting in Switzerland and to a meeting of EU parliamentarians in Helsinki. “I will also go to Canada and to the United States to meet with lawmakers and senators,” he said. “I expect there will be a movement of the lawmakers from these two countries.” Click to Read More... AddThis Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 1 comment | Links to this post Labels: Commune election | General election | Hun Xen's travesty of justice | Injustice in Cambodia | Sam Rainsy | SRP Factories Claim $15 Million in Damages After Strikes Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer Phnom Penh Wednesday, 22 September 2010 “We need to know what the union wants to raise for its members. We'll take the next step.” The garment industry raised its loss estimates to $15 million on Wednesday in the wake of a general strike last week. The $15 million was reported by at least 30 garment factories through the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, after thousands of workers went on strike in search of more pay. GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo told VOA Khmer on Wednesday the figure was based on lost production and damages factory property, costs for alternative logistics and freight, and for discounts on late deliveries. In a statement, the group, which represents factory managers, said it would “support its members in the effort of finding justice and compensation for the loss.” Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union, said last week's strike was held legally and that losses were up to the companies. Workers would not compensate for the losses, he said. The strikes ended after four days before further negotiations were settled on for Sept. 27. Loo said Wednesday that GMAC had not prepared a topic for next week's talks, but its members would attend and “listen to the demands and requests of the trade union federation. “We need to know what the union wants to raise for its members,” he said. “We'll take the next step.” Ath Thun said the unions will not request a raise in the monthly salaries, but will instead seek an additional per diem for food, an increase in overtime rates and other bonuses to help offset the rising costs of living. Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 1 comment | Links to this post Labels: Garment workers strike | GMAC | Wage increase Union Leader Calls for More Solidarity After Strikes A Cambodian garment worker speaks on a loud speaker as she leads a strike to demand the monthly salary raise to US 93 dollars from the current $61. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS) Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer Washington, D.C Wednesday, 22 September 2010 “Doing so will give us a strong influence to demand a decent salary for the workers.” In the wake of last week's strikes, the leader of a federation of unions said workers need even greater unity to defend their interests. Speaking as a guest on “Hello VOA” on Monday, Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union, said workers need to “form one voice.” “Doing so will give us a strong influence to demand a decent salary for the workers,” he said. Worker unions will meet with factory managers next week to negotiate better income for workers, through bonuses or some other mechanism, to offset the increased cost of living. Thousands of workers went on strike last week, saying they were unhappy with their monthly salaries of $61. The strikes ended after four days, when new negotiations were agreed on for Sept. 27. Ath Thun said some unions have been secretly dealing with manufacturers, but that others were prepared to continue strikes if next week's talks don't produce results. Meanwhile, some factories have sought the suspension of some union leaders, in what Ath Thun called a “serious violation.” “We ended our peaceful strike, and there should not be any retaliation once they resume work,” he said. Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: Ath Thun | Garment workers strike | Wage increase demand Spratlys dispute up in Asean-US meet Thursday, 23 September 2010 Manila Times (Philippines) NEW YORK CITY: Regional security and the sensitive Spratly Islands dispute will be top on the agenda during a summit meeting on Friday among leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the United States. US President Barack Obama and the Asean heads of government, including President Benigno Aquino 3rd, will meet also on Friday at the sidelines of the ongoing 65th United Nations General Assembly meeting here. Diplomatic sources said that the leaders’ meeting would tackle the Spratlys territorial dispute within the ambit of maritime security and under the broad agenda on “Maintenance of Regional Stability.” Four Asean members—the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei—and Asian economic and military power China and Taiwan have overlapping claims to the Spratly Islands, a chain of small islands in the South China Sea that encompass existing world navigational routes. Asean also groups Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand. The overlapping claims flared into armed skirmishes in the past and are considered a potential flashpoint that could involve the world’s major powers. The Philippines, a treaty ally of the United States, on Tuesday said that it was pushing through with a plan to develop Pag-asa Island, a part of the Spratlys group, into a tourist spot. The country occupies nine of the islands in the disputed Spratlys chain, which China refers to as Nansha Islands. Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said that major repairs are being done on an existing airstrip and the pier on the main island of Pag-asa. China and the other claimants maintain garrisons on some of the islands they occupy, and although there have been no major flare-ups lately, the conflicting claims have contributed to regional tension. The United States, the world only remaining superpower, keeps a very keen interest in the Spratlys because of their impact on existing navigational routes and, therefore, on global security. In Manila, VERA Files this week reported that the leaders’ summit here will take up, among other items in the agenda, “Regional Architecture and Plans for the Future” that will cover US eventual participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS). Another agenda item, “Economic Cooperation,” calls for collective participation among countries in Trans-Pacific Partnership and other areas of Asean-US economic collaboration. In the draft joint statement of the 2nd Asean-US Leaders Meeting prepared by the US, the leaders are expected to “oppose the use or threat of force by any claimant attempting to enforce disputed claims in the SCS [South China Sea],” the report said. Asean, however, prefers to limit the text to “reaffirming the importance of freedom of navigation, regional peace and stability, unimpeded commerce in respect for relevant universally agreed principles of international law and the peaceful settlement of dispute in the SCS,” it added. The regional bloc and the US favor full implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and encourage eventual conclusion of a regional code of conduct in the SCS. Asean, which usually takes a common stand in its dealings with world powers such as the US and China, is seeking an agreement with Beijing on issues related to the Spratlys. Among the points that Asean and China have agreed to is a declaration to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.” Such broad language includes a call on those involved to refrain from inhabiting islands that are now unoccupied and to “handle their differences in a constructive manner.” The Spratlys comprise more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls and islands in the South China Sea between the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam and China. Taken together, the islands have less than four square kilometers of land area, but they are spread in more than 425,000 square kilometers of sea that cover strategic sea lanes. The island chain is mostly uninhabited, but they offer rich fishing grounds. Initial seismic surveys indicate the disputed areas contain significant oil and gas deposits. About 45 islands are occupied by relatively small numbers of troops from China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Brunei has claimed an exclusive economic zone in the southeastern part of the Spratlys encompassing just one area of small islands on Louisa Reef. Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: ASEAN | Chinese dispute over the Spratly Islands | South China Sea | Spratly Islands Sunday Performance by Chamroeun Yin to Open Monthlong Series on Cambodian Classical Arts All events in the Cambodian Arts Series are free to Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore students, faculty and staff. The Oct.22 performance by the Khmer Arts Ensemble is part of the College’s Performing Arts Series; tickets for the general public are available online at Brown Paper Tickets. All other events are free to the general public, although reservations are required for some events. For more information, see the Performing Arts Series website. September 22, 2010 Bryn Mawr University (Pennsylvania, USA) Beginning this Sunday, Sept. 26, Bryn Mawr College will host a series of events focusing on the classical arts of Cambodia. Inspired by a visit from Cambodia’s Khmer Arts Ensemble scheduled for October, the series will include performances, lectures, and workshops conducted by members of the local Cambodian community of Philadelphia as well as the visitors from Cambodia. The series opens Sunday at 7 p.m. in Goodhart Hall’s Katharine Hepburn Teaching Theater with “A Thousand Years in the Making: Cambodian Royal Court Traditional Dances,” a performance by Philadelphia-based Chamroeun Yin. Yin is a multitalented artist whose work in the visual arts includes preparing traditional costumes and masks for the dances he performs. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Goodhart Music Hall, Yin will display and discuss some of the splendid and elegant costumes and masks he has created for Cambodian dance performances. Other Events in the Series: * Monday, Oct. 4, 4:15 p.m. , Carpenter B21. Screening of Dancing through Death: The Monkey, Magic, and Madness of Cambodia, a documentary focusing on Thavro Phim, a classical Cambodian dancer who survived the genocide of the Pol Pot Regime. Phim, who will be on hand to discuss the film, continues to use dance with both youth and immigrant communities as a way of recovering and maintaining cultural identity. Co-sponsored by the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict. * Monday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Pembroke Dance Studio. “The Cambodian Monkey Dance: Trickster, Warrior, and King,” a workshop with Thavro Pim. Open to dancers, as well as to those with experience in other movement forms ranging from tai chi and capoeira to theatrical improvisation. Pim is one of only three trained dancers in the US who performs and teaches this important dance. Call the Office for the Arts (610-526-5210) to reserve a space. * Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, Oct. 20-23, various locations. Master Classes in Classical Cambodian Technique with members of the Khmer Arts Ensemble. See the Dance Program Events website for information about times, places, and how to reserve a space. * Friday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m., McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall. The Lives of Giants, a performance by the 30 dancers and musicians of Cambodia’s Khmer Arts Ensemble. Drawing on the Cambodian Reamker (Ramayana), The Lives of Giants fuses classical and experimental dance techniques into a spare, complex, powerfully spiritual evening that delivers a resonant message about the effects of violence. Ticket information at the Performing Arts Series website. * Saturday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m., McPherson Auditorium, Goodhart Hall. Learning to Listen: explore the beauty and intricacies of Cambodian classical music as members of the Khmer Arts Ensemble both play and discuss both the instruments and the music. Call the Office for the Arts (610-526-5210) to make a reservation. The Khmer Arts Ensemble residence and Cambodian Arts events are made possible, in part, by a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance. Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: Khmer art | Khmer Classical Ballet Dance | Pennsylvania Cambodia Slowly Reweaves Its Silk Industry A Cambodian woman dries silk thread at a weaving center outside Phnom Penh. (Photo: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters) September 22, 2010 By SIMON MARKS The New York Times PHNOM PENH — Far from the glamour at fashion weeks in America and Europe, Cambodia’s silk industry is struggling to regain the foothold it lost during years of political and civil unrest. The government recently named silk as one of eight priority export items to be developed by the Ministry of Commerce. And experts agree that the quality of the country’s handmade gold-colored silk is far superior to the mass-produced white silk turned out by China, Vietnam and Thailand. But Cambodia is producing just five tons of silk a year, even though demand is estimated to be about 400 tons. And that silk is selling for around $70 a kilogram, or $32 a pound, much more than the $50 a kilogram paid for imported silk, making it much less competitive when attracting buyers from abroad. In Cambodia, “the skill and the design are not there,” said Sokunthy Heng, export manager for the Kearny Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on trade links. Still, there are some early signs that the industry is experiencing a revival. In 2008, the British department store chain Marks & Spencer started to source silk pillowcases from 200 families in Prey Veng Province, and so far 500 kilograms of the product have been exported. In January, Kearny Alliance created a sourcing report for silk fashion accessories so buyers could locate quality suppliers in Cambodia more easily. (Ms. Heng said she did not know whether the report had led to any deals yet.) And the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is helping to fund silk sector development. Last year the agency financed a $475,000 project to work with the government to create a production center for silkworm eggs. Seven demonstration farms are also being established to train local residents in rearing silkworms. The U.N. agency estimates that, if the silk sector develops to meet domestic demand, it will generate employment for 25,000 people and result in import savings of around $10 million per year. Silk production in Cambodia has always been a modest affair, mainly produced by women living in rural areas that often lack basics like electricity and modernized roads. Many of them also are subsistence rice farmers, focused on planting crops between May and July when the monsoon rains arrive and harvesting in December, tasks that take time away from producing silk. The silk trade here dates from the 13th century, when villagers started to breed silkworms along the banks of the Mekong and Bassac rivers. Villagers now breed a variety of caterpillar known as bombyx mori, which feeds on mulberry tree leaves for three weeks and then spins a golden cocoon. The silk yarn that forms the cocoons is washed, dyed and eventually woven. But during the Communist Khmer Rouge regime, between 1975 and 1979, people were forced to cultivate rice on collective farms, devastating the silk industry. Recovery has been painfully slow — so slow, in fact, that only 2 percent of the thread used to create Cambodian silk today is actually produced in Cambodia, noted Kellianne Karatau, 40, who co-owns and designs clothes for Jasmine Boutique, one of only a handful of high-end fashion stores in Phnom Penh. The rest of the silk thread is imported from a variety of locations. “As the world supply for silk increases, it affects the price and also the availability of silk thread,” Ms. Karatau said. “So to secure our silk supply we would have to see Cambodia develop its silk yarn production.” Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: Silk trade Cambodian Reconciliation Explored at Symposium Ieng Sithul (Photo By Patrick Verel) Contact: Patrick Verel (212) 636-7790 email@example.com Fordham University (New York, USA) Can theatre help a country overcome the mental anguish of mass murder? That was the question explored on Sept. 20 and 21 at a symposium dedicated to the role of theatrical arts in healing Cambodia’s national psychological wounds. “Theatre and Peace-Building in Cambodia,” was sponsored by Fordham Theatre at the Lincoln Center campus. It brought playwright and actress Chhon Sina and actor/musician Ieng Sithul from Cambodia to New York City. They collaborated with Fordham acting students and Dawn Akemi Saito, artist-in-residence at Fordham, on Sina’s new play, Phka Campei. The collaboration began with an open rehearsal of the full play and finished the next day with a staged reading of a single scene. The play tells the story of a sex worker and victim of domestic violence who lives in a slum and struggles to come to terms with the evils her father exacted on her and her mother. Afterward, Sina and Sithul discussed the unique responsibilities they bear as artists in Cambodian society, at a panel with three Fordham professors. Sithul, who sang selections from a contemporary Cambodian opera, said many tensions still exist in Cambodia. An estimated two million of the country’s eight million citizens were killed from 1975 to 1978 during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and many former regime supporters still live with those who suffered its abuses. Sina compared an artist on stage to a soldier on the battlefield who needs protection from above. Music and dance are largely left alone, but theatre productions are considered a “sharp weapon” in Cambodian society. “We do not have the artist protector. So artists feel intimidated to do their work, because they are not the people who hold the power in the ministries,” she said through interpreter Rithisal Kang. Still, she said, they persist even with little funding and occasional flare-ups from audiences, like when she played a killer in a play called Breaking The Silence. “How can we overcome these challenges, and how can we, as the elder teachers of theatre in Cambodia, transfer our knowledge to the younger generation?” she said. “We don’t want to bring our knowledge to the grave.” Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College in the United Kingdom. Click to Read More... Posted by KI Media | Permalink | | 3 comments | Links to this post Labels: Ieng Sithul | KR crimes | Reconciliation attempt Call for Rally against Hun Xen at the UN Headquarters on 24 September 2010 What: Rally against Hun Sen and his government officials When: Friday 24 September 2010 Between 11AM and 2PM Where: East 47st Street & 2nd Avenue Contact: Mr. Michael Duong Tel. (202) 280-7223, email: firstname.lastname@example.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Rally at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York, USA against Hun Sen and his Governmental Officials on 24 September 2010 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at East 47st Street & 2nd Avenue. Maryland - Wednesday, September 22, 2010: We are, the Cambodians, and Cambodian-Americans from Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Road islands, Massachusetts, Canada, and others are proudly hosting the Rally in front of the Headquarters, United Nations against Hun Sen, and his Government Officials for these following reasons: * Illegal treaties (1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, and Supplemental Treaty of 2005 ) with Vietnam---Hun Sen’s Former Communist Boss during Vietnam’s armed occupied forces to colonize Cambodia from 1979 to present and recent borders encroachments and flooding of illegal Vietnamese Immigrants into Cambodia. * Disregarded and unimplemented the Paris Peace Agreement on 23 Oct 1991 to its fullest extent. * Land grabbing, illegal land concessions and evictions of innocence people by armed forces from their homes and their lands. * Selling of National Assets (States’ Buildings, Forest, Land, Sands, Oil and underground Minerals. * Using Judicial Systems to silence oppositions and innocence citizens. * Make Cambodia to be the one of the corrupted nations in the world from the bottom-up. * Interfering and manipulating of Extra Ordinary Chamber in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC)---Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT). * Did not use International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on 15 June 1962 on Preah Vihear issue to solve the problem with Thailand and Thais’ ambition on Preah Vihear and its vicinity. * Monopoly Media by his own family. * Hun Sen turns Cambodia into Burmese’s Junta. * Created Corruption-Law only to protect their corrupted inner-circle members. * Pocketing money for themselves from foreign donors, and foreign loans from foreign * countries. * Wasteful spending on outdated and useless military equipment & weapons where his Government is living by foreign donors and the country unemployment is skyrocketing. * And many others. For further information, please contact the Rally Organizer, Mr. Michael Duong (202) 280-7223, email@example.com. Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 27 comments | Links to this post Labels: Anti-Hun Sen activisits | New York | UN General Assembly Wednesday, September 22, 2010 KR tribunal at a crossroads Wednesday, 22 September 2010 Ou Virak Letter to The Phnom Penh Post Dear Editor, The Phnom Penh Post recently reported on the split decision of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber, which rejected a request from defence lawyers for a judicial investigation into allegations of political interference in the work of the Tribunal (“KRT denies inquiry request from defence”, September 12). The allegations stemmed from the failure of government officials and King Father Norodom Sihanouk to respond to summonses issued in 2009 and provide witness testimony before the Tribunal. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights writes to express its concern at the paralysis resulting from the PTC decision, which has negated the ability of the Tribunal to respond definitively to these allegations before trial proceedings commence, and consequently damaged the ability of the Tribunal to act as a model court by demonstrating the conduct of fair and independent trials. The refusal of the seven individuals summonsed to provide testimony undermines the ability of the Tribunal to deliver a trial that is fair to both the charged persons and victims. One of the core requirements of a fair trial is that all evidence capable of assisting in the ascertainment of the truth should be available for consideration unless ruled out by another rule of evidence. By denying the Tribunal testimony that might include key inculpatory or exculpatory details, those who have ignored summonses have compromised the rights of both victims and the charged persons to have all available evidence presented for consideration. The Cambodian judges of the PTC failed to provide adequate consideration to the severity of the allegations of political interference and the consequent impact on the fair trial rights of the accused. Rule 35(2) of the KRT’s internal rules provides that where the Co-Investigating Judges or judicial Chambers have reason to believe that a person may have failed to comply with an order to appear before them without just excuse, or may have interfered with a potential witness, the authority exists to conduct an investigation or refer the matter to the appropriate Cambodian or United Nations authorities. Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith publicly stated that “the government’s policy was that [those summonsed] should not give testimony”. Hun Sen also appeared concerned that in providing testimony, those summonsed might inadvertently cast a negative light on his regime, questioning why they were of interest to the Tribunal and taking care to emphasise that the officials concerned helped topple the regime and establish the KRT to bring justice to Cambodians. As noted in the strong dissenting judgment of the PTC’s international judges, Catherine Marchi-Uhel and Rowan Downing: “no reasonable trier of fact could have failed to consider that the [facts previously referred to in the dissenting judgment] and their sequence constitute a reason to believe that one or more members of the RGC may have knowingly and wilfully interfered with witnesses who may give evidence before the [Co-Investigating Judges].” The KRT was supposed to operate according to international standards, acting as a model for Cambodia’s courts. The failure of both the Co-Investigating Judges (who effectively deferred the politically sensitive decision to the PTC) and the PTC to respond adequately to the allegations of political interference and continuing refusal of key witnesses to testify is likely to undermine the fairness of any trial resulting from the investigation in Case 002. The split decision along national/international lines has reinforced perceptions that Cambodian judicial officers at the Tribunal are preoccupied with the concerns of the government. The KRT appears to have reached a crossroads; the success or failure of the Tribunal will be judged in large part by its ability to administer a fair trial adhering to international standards in Case 002, the most significant case likely to go to trial. The CCHR calls on the United Nations expert on the KRT, Clint Williamson, to pay special attention to the implications of Friday’s decision of the PTC for the credibility of both the KRT and the United Nations. If the KRT administers an investigation and trial that cannot be judged as fair to the accused and victims, it will set a dangerous precedent for the Cambodian courts and is likely to result in a failed – or negative – legacy for the wider Cambodian justice system. Ou Virak Cambodian Center for Human Rights Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 5 comments | Links to this post Labels: KR trials | KR Tribunal | Ou Virak Youk Chhang sending mixed signals about tribunal corruption: Ieng Sary's lawyers Wednesday, 22 September 2010 Ang Udom Letter to The Phnom Penh Post Dear Editor, I write to express disappointment regarding the comments made by Mr Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, in the article titled “Ieng Sary team seeks ECCC judge’s ouster” (The Phnom Penh Post, September 20). Mr Youk Chhang reportedly dismissed the Ieng Sary defence filing to disqualify the ECCC Presiding Trial Chamber Judge, Nil Nonn, as an attempt to “invite controversy”, adding that the problem of bribery and petty corruption at provincial courts was common knowledge in Cambodia. Mr Youk Chhang is quoted as saying “It’s publicly known”. The comments made by Mr Youk Chhang imply that there is corruption in Cambodian courts, and that this should simply be accepted. The implications from these comments are shocking, especially in light of the Report of the United Nations Human Rights Envoy, Surya Subedi, which only this weekend branded the Cambodian judiciary as corrupt, incompetent and lacking independence. Mr Youk Chhang’s comments are all the more disappointing in light of hisposition as the director of DC-Cam, an NGO purportedly established to find the truth regarding the Khmer Rouge period. The ECCC presents an opportunity not only for Cambodia to find out the truth about the Khmer Rouge period, but also to act as a model court contributing to the rule of law in Cambodia. Mr Youk Chhang’s comments promote neither opportunity, but rather accept corruption as a given in the Cambodian judiciary. If Mr Youk Chhang is so blasé in accepting a potentially corrupt judiciary at the ECCC, perhaps he should look at his own position as director of DC-Cam, and whether he is promoting the aim of his organisation. Ang Udom Michael G Karnavas Co-lawyers for Ieng Sary Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 4 comments | Links to this post Labels: Alleged ECCC corruption | Ieng Sary's lawyer | KR trials | KR Tribunal | Nil Nonn | Youk Chhang Thai PM to explain Thai situation at UN meeting September 22, 2010 Xinhua Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday he would explain Thailand's economic and political situation to world leaders during the 65th United Nations General Assembly in New York. The assembly takes place from Sept 22 to 26. The prime minister will leave for New York Wednesday evening and will return to Bangkok Sunday morning. "I believe there are many investors in the US planning to invest or expand their businesses here," Bangkok Post online quoted Abhisit as saying. On the plan to meet Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Abhisit said he and his Cambodian counterpart would likely meet many times at international meetings before the end of this year. "I'm not sure if there will be enough time for talks on the border row around Preah Vihear temple and it is not easy to get down to the details. But I can assure that both countries want to solve the problems between them peacefully, since they are good neighbours," the premier was quoted by the Bangkok Post online as saying. Moreover, he said he has assigned Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban to oversee domestic issues during his trip to New York. Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: Abhisit | ASEAN | Border dispute with Thailand | UN General Assembly PM Hun Sen leaves for ASEAN-US Summit in New York September 22, 2010 Xinhua Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen left here for New York on Wednesday noon for ASEAN-U.S. Summit which is to be held later this week. Sry Thammarong, minister attached to the prime minister said Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend the Second ASEAN-U.S. Leaders' Meeting on Sept. 24 in New York. He said, as planned, the leaders will exchange views on important regional and international issues of common interest and concern, as well as cooperation between ASEAN and U.S. The first ASEAN-U.S. Summit was held in Singapore last November. According to Sry Thammarong, Hun Sen will likely meet with Barack Obama, president of the United States if time will be available. And, on the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen will hold bilateral talks with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on bilateral cooperation and issues of common interests, he said. Also, while he is in New York, the prime minister will meet with the members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party from the United States and Canada. Hun Sen is expected to return home on Sunday. Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 3 comments | Links to this post Labels: Abhisit Vejjajiva | ASEAN | Barack Obama | Hun Xen | UN General Assembly Goodbye Nom Benh, Hello New York Lawsuit Hun Xen and Bun Rany Hun Xen departing for New York where a new lawsuit awaits Mr. Hun Xen there (All Photos: DAP news) Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 24 comments | Links to this post Labels: Aunty Bun Rany Hun Xen | Hun Xen | New York SRP Press Conference on new judicial proceedings in New York against Hun Xen September 22, 2010 INVITATION TO A PRESS CONFERENCE Journalists, observers and all interested persons are invited to attend the following press conference: TOPICS: New judicial proceedings in New York against Mr. Hun Sen and his subordinates in relation to a deadly 1997 grenade attack in Phnom Penh and an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Sam Rainsy will address the participants and will answer questions from Paris through a teleconference. VENUE: SRP Phnom Penh Headquarters (next to the residence of the Russian ambassador). DATE: Friday, September 24, 2010, at 02.00 pm. SRP Cabinet Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 6 comments | Links to this post Labels: Hun Sen's involvement in 1997 grenade attack | Hun Xen | SRP Sam Rainsy's interview on RFA on 21 September 2010 Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (Photo: Den Ayuthyea, RFA) Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy gave an interview with RFA relevant with border issues on September 21, 2010. Please listen at : http://tinyurl.com/2dhtozn Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 5 comments | Links to this post Labels: Hun Xen's travesty of justice | Sam Rainsy | Vietnamese encroachment SITHI.ORG now operating in Khmer Dear Friends and Colleagues, The Sithi Team is delighted to announce that the Cambodian Human Rights Portal, Sithi.org, is now operating in both Khmer and in English. Please visit www.sithi.org to find information in Khmer and English about human rights in Cambodia including information about human rights laws, human rights violations and human rights news. If your computer does not have Khmer Unicode preventing you from seeing the text in Khmer, you can download the relevant font for free from the Khmer language Sithi homepage. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks in advance for your support and assistance. Best regards, -- Sithi Team Tel: +855 23 72 69 01 Fax: +855 23 72 69 02 Nº798, Street 99, Beoung Trabek, Khan Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 1 comment | Links to this post Labels: Khmer language | Sithi.org The Constructive Cambodian People like Norbert Klein, who is the editor of the Cambodian Mirror and a long-time partner in the development of the Internet in Cambodia, are frustrated by the state of KI-Media. He wrote in an email that “un-civil statements, full of personal attacks, using horrendous profanity, combined with ethnic and racial slurs” that are being posted on the site make him feel “ashamed.” Op-Ed: Life of the Phnom Penh Post Wednesday, 22 September 2010 15:00 Tharum Bun 100922_lift13_tharum 100922_lift13a The holocaust monument in Berlin, one of many places in Germany where people can learn about and remember the horrendous chapter in the country’s history. In the last decade blogs have become a popular way for Cambodian’s to passionately voice their opinions on current events in the Kingdom. One of the most successful examples is the socio-political blog KI-Media, which recently celebrated 10 million hits just over 5 years after its launch. Despite its achievement, KI-Media could do more to raise its standard of blogging, if not through citizen journalism, at least by staying true to their founding mission and playing a more influential role in the distribution of information. KI-Media began its operation in early 2000s as an email list-serve meant to distribute sensitive news and information related to Cambodian politics. Their first blog in 2005 was video of an interview with Chhay Vee detailing the 1997 grenade attack on SRP supporters in Phnom Penh. The blog now reuses contents from a wide range of sources without linking to the original sites, but rarely breaks their own unique stories. Despite the fact that it has become one of the most read blogs among Cambodians and expatriates interested in the nation’s affairs, its content and sourcing have become one of the major setbacks in how citizen media is perceived in Cambodia. Its popularity may reflect public satisfaction with the site; however its role in centralizing Cambodia-related news and information needs to be questioned. Rather than being a non-partisan aggregator of breaking news and an unbiased outlet for whistle blowers, like Wikileaks, the controversial yet highly successful site that substantiates and publishes highly sensitive documents, KI-Media is instead allowing itself to take on the identity of an opposition website. People like Norbert Klein, who is the editor of the Cambodian Mirror and a long-time partner in the development of the Internet in Cambodia, are frustrated by the state of KI-Media. He wrote in an email that “un-civil statements, full of personal attacks, using horrendous profanity, combined with ethnic and racial slurs” that are being posted on the site make him feel “ashamed.” In a letter to readers, KI-Media’s founder said that he hoped to create a “Twitter-like service dedicated to news from Cambodia, at a time when the Twitter concept did not exist yet.” But now Twitter does exist and so do personalized aggregators like Google news alerts, which allow people to collect the day’s news about Cambodia, or anything else, without the assistance of a site like KI-Media. If they really want to have an impact on the Kingdom, and stop relying on other publications for their content, KI-Media should go back to their roots and find ways to break stories and information that isn’t already in the public domain. In another email I received, a Cambodian human rights activist who prefers not to be named explained that KI-Media is still one of her first stops when searching for current news on the Kingdom, but also expressed concern that KI-Media has a “tendency towards the opposition,” and the site has not “taken enough measures to ensure its professionalism.” In their recent letter to readers, KI-Media boasts that they have posted 36,133 articles, an impressive number, especially in Cambodia, but numbers are not enough. If the sites staffers really want to put their reportedly tireless work to good use (the aforementioned letter claims that “One team member is even facing marriage breakup because of his dedication to maintaining the KI-Media website”), they need to hold themselves to higher standards. According to their site “KI-Media loves to hear from you, and we’re giving you a bullhorn.” There is great value in allowing public conversations to centre around your content, but KI-Media is no longer unique for this feature. There are thousands of conversations happening between Cambodians on Facebook and AngkorOne as well as competing news outlets and blogs. Copying stories critical of the government, and allowing angry people to use those stories as a sounding board for their frustrations, is one road that KI-Media can take. I would propose, however, that they push themselves to be an outlet for unique information, like the video that got the site started, and play the role that only an anonymous website can play in a country ranked 117 on the world’s press freedom index. At the end of their recent letter, the site says that “the truth shall set us free”. It can be hard to report the truth in Cambodia, but KI-Media has the unique ability to do it, and it needs to do it better. How well do you think Cambodia has dealt with the difficulties of moving on from the Khmer Rouge. Share your ideas with Kounila at angkorone.com/lift. Click to Read More... Posted by Khmer Young | Permalink | | 10 comments | Links to this post Labels: KI-Media Jet Li, Angelina Jolie targeted for new movie in Cambodia Jet Li U.S. actress Angelina Jolie poses as she arrives at the German premiere of her new movie "Salt" in Berlin August 18, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) PHNOM PENH, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- A famous Chinese action movie star Jet Li (Chinese name: Li Lianjie), and American movie actress Angelina Jolie are expected to be included in a new movie to be produced in Cambodia. In a press conference held on Wednesday in Phnom Penh, Thomas Magyar, a project manager for the planned movie, and Tony Schiena, a project coordinator and a Hollywood star said the film they had planned to produce will be named as "Great Khmer Empire." They said the film might cost approximately 70 million U.S. dollars and it will need about three years to make it, saying the large time span will be caused by the consultations with Cambodian government and historians on accuracy of the history as well as the script writing. Both Tony Schiena and Thomas Magyar said, to date, they are looking at several famous movies stars such as Jet Li, Chinese action star, Angelina Jolie, an American movie actress, John Cena, world's famous wrester and South Korean movie actress Song Hye Kyo among others. The movie will focus on history of Cambodia, especially, during the glorious period in 11th and 12th century under the King Jayavarman the VII, who until today, considered as the great King of Cambodia and who finished up the building of Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. Angelina Jolie adopted a Cambodian son and was granted a Cambodian citizenship. She was also a star in the famous movie titled "Tomb Raider" which some parts of the episodes were also shot in Siem Reap province where many temples including Angkor Wat Temple are located in. Click to Read More... Posted by Heng Soy | Permalink | | 25 comments | Links to this post Labels: Jayavarman VII | Movie Prostitute-Politician drafted as Anti-corruption Mouthpiece by the Corrupt Regime Keo Remy (Photo: Im Navin, Cambodge Soir Hebdo) Former opposition MP appointed spokesman for the Anti-Corruption Commission Wednesday, 22 September 2010 By Khmerization Source: Kampuchea Thmey Mr. Keo Remy, deputy spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit and a former MP for the Funcinpec Party and later MP for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, has been appointed spokesman for the newly-created Anti-Corruption Commission headed by Om Yentieng, senior advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen. Mr. Keo Remy has confirmed that he has been appointed to the position at a joint meeting on Tuesday. Keo Remy was an outspoken MP when he serves in the Funcinpec Party and Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). He joined Funcinpec in the 1990s and was elected MP in 1998. Before the 2003 election, he defected to the SRP and was elected MP where he remain an outspoken critic of the government. Just before the 2008 election, he defected to the Human Rights Party but failed to win a parliamentary seat in the Phnom Penh constituency. Shortly after the 2008 election, he against defected to the ruling Cambodian People's Party where he was appointed Secretary of State at the Council of Ministers. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 17 comments | Links to this post Labels: Anti-corruption Commission | Keo Remy CCHR Welcomes Report by Special Rapporteur and Calls on Govt to Lead Judicial Reform Click on the press release in Khmer to zoom in PRESS RELEASE Phnom Penh, 22 September 2010 For immediate release CCHR WELCOMES REPORT BY SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR AND CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT TO LEAD JUDICIAL REFORM The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) welcomes the latest report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi (the “Special Rapporteur”). The Report, dated 16 September 2010, examines the effectiveness of the Cambodian judiciary in promoting and protecting human rights and will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 28 September. CCHR calls on the Royal Government of Cambodia (“RGC”) to review the content and recommendations of the Report closely and avail itself of opportunities to work with the many willing partners who are available to help the RGC strengthen the judiciary and its capacity to protect the rights of the citizens of Cambodia. CCHR notes with concern the dismissive comments of numerous government officials reported by media in response to the release of the Report of the Special Rapporteur. It is no secret that Cambodia’s judiciary faces challenges, many of which are complex and difficult to address. The RGC is clearly aware of this fact, having created the Council for Legal and Judicial Reform, which produced a Legal and Judicial Reform Strategy in 2003 setting out the RGC’s reform priorities. It should come as no surprise that Cambodian and international NGOs, opposition parties, donors, and United Nations treaty bodies and special mandates have repeatedly expressed similar recommendations in regard to strengthening the judiciary. CCHR encourages the RGC to view these groups as genuine partners in the challenging goal of legal and judicial reform and capacity building rather than dismissing their findings and recommendations as biased, uninformed and irrelevant. Christophe Peschoux, country representative for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR”), has reportedly offered the assistance of his office to the RGC to help implement the recommendations in the report of the Special Rapporteur. Cambodian NGOs such as CCHR operate trial monitoring projects that collect data to support the RGC’s legal and judicial reform efforts. Donors have offered their support and technical expertise to a model court project, and, as CCHR has repeatedly stressed, there are ongoing opportunities for the RGC to take advantage of the expertise and experience of judicial officers employed at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. These examples provide evidence that, if the RGC is willing to genuinely engage with those who offer constructive criticism and present good faith recommendations for reform, there is no shortage of available support. However, when considering legal and judicial reform, a distinction must be drawn between areas in which partners can provide support – such as collecting data through trial monitoring, providing technical expertise, and providing funding – and those in which the RGC must take the lead. The creation of key laws by the RGC such as the Law on the Status of Judges and Prosecutors and the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Courts, as well as the reform of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, would necessarily result in greater independence for judges and prosecutors. Similarly, by removing the crimes of defamation and disinformation and ending politically motivated criminal cases against members of opposition parties and those in the media, the RGC would clearly indicate that it has no interest in using the courts as a political tool to silence critics. There are multiple partners willing to support legal and judicial capacity building in Cambodia and the RGC has made some progress in this area. However, fundamental and transformative legal and judicial reform that allows the Cambodian judiciary to protect Cambodia’s liberal democracy and the rights of all citizens requires a willingness from the RGC to limit its own power. For more information, please contact: Ou Virak President Cambodian Center for Human Rights Tel: +855 12 404 051 Email: email@example.com Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 2 comments | Links to this post Labels: Biased judicial system | CCHR | Judicial reform | Surya Subedi Response by Ou Virak to Op-Ed Piece published on KI-Media on 21 September 2010 Ou Virak (Photo: Sovannara, RFI) 22 September 2010 Dear KI Media and readers I am writing in response to the Op‐Ed piece by Khmer Young that was published on KI Media on 21 September 2010 “Government mouthpieces are magpies”. In his piece, Khmer Young described Radio French International (RFI) as pro‐government/Cambodian People’s Party and described how the tendency of the government is to dismiss constructive criticism as bias, uninformed and/or the work of opposition mouthpieces. I would like to thank Khmer Young for his piece and to respond to a number of issues he raises. In my experience, I have found Radio France International to be fair and independent in its coverage of Cambodia. In view of the control exercised over the media by a small circle of government cronies, the work of organisations and agencies like RFI, Radio Free Asia, and Voice of Democracy is invaluable in ensuring that the Cambodian people are objectively informed of national and international affairs. A similarly essential role is played by news-blog websites, such as KI-Media, in ensuring that information that may be viewed as critical of the government is shared with Cambodia’s growing online community. In the Op-Ed piece, Khmer Young describes my recent interview with RFI as disturbing on the grounds that the interviewer, in his questions to me, used reasoning which Young Khmer perceived as similar to that often used by members of government in response to criticisms. In particular, Young Khmer noted that in reasoning that the cover of the recent Joint NGO Report on Freedom of Expression (Cambodia Gagged: Democracy At Risk?) may frighten away potential visitors Cambodia; the interviewer was offering similar logic to that used by often government members in response to criticisms. I agree with Young Khmer that the tendency of the government is often to respond, with a certain jerk of the knee, to all criticisms, constructive or otherwise, in a confrontational and dismissive manner: as evidenced by the government reaction to the recent report by Surya Subedi and the reaction to the Joint Report on Freedom of Expression. I would stress however, that in putting such questions to me in interview; RFI was not supporting the view of the government but was providing me with an opportunity to respond to criticisms that have been leveled at the Joint Report. One who raises questions and offers criticisms should be equally willing to respond to those posed by others. Asking those questions, even where they are not reflective of the opinion of the interviewer, is an important aspect of journalism and operates to create the type of the debate which, as noted in the Joint Report on Freedom of Expression, is so often curtailed in Cambodia. Yours faithfully Ou Virak Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 8 comments | Links to this post Labels: Cambodia politics | Op-Ed by Khmer Young | Ou Virak | RFI Should Sam Rainsy come back to be sent to jail by Hun Xen or not? (Photo: AFP) 22 September 2010 By Pech Bandol Free Press Magazine Online Translated from Khmer by Soch Click here to read the article in Khmer A myriad of lawsuits against the opposition party are currently being brought up and this raises the question on the future of democracy in Cambodia: will Cambodia limp toward democracy as it is doing now, i.e. a democracy that only serves as a shield to protect a dictatorship or will it return back to an 80s style communist regime? Kul Panha, the executive director of the Comfrel NGO, indicated that the number of accusation cases against opposition officials are on the rise and this is intentional from the part of the ruling CPP party in order to smash democracy and to prevent free and fair elections. Kul Panha commented: “We look at other countries in Europe, Japan, in America, nobody brings up lawsuits because of diverging political opinions such as we have here.” It should be noted that since 2009 until now, opposition officials have faced an array of lawsuits against them brought up by government officials and by the powerful CPP party. Mrs. Mu Sochua, an opposition MP from Kampot province, was sued for defamation by Hun Xen and the Supreme Court decided on 02 June 2010 that she lost this case and it forced her to pay a compensation to Hun Xen, as well as a fine, both totaling 16.5 million riels. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia by the Svay Rieng provincial court on 27 January 2010 to 2-year of jail term in regards to his uprooting of border stakes, he is also facing another lawsuit where he is accused of falsification of public documents and disinformation. The latter case was heard on 08 September, but the sentencing will not be known until 23 September. Furthermore, what is laughable is the lawsuit brought up by Hor 5 Hong against Sam Rainsy two years ago. The case is also coming up now. Chea Poch, another opposition MP, also saw his defamation lawsuit case, which was brought up by Prince Ranariddh 6 years ago, being dug up. In summary, with this array of theatrical shows, one can see clearly that the ruling party has a clear aim in mind: using the judicial system as a tool to break up the opposition, and in particular, to exclude from the Cambodian political scene the cumbersome opposition leader who is skilled at attracting supporters. The poisonous strategy used by the CPP can be clearly seen during Hun Xen’s inauguration of the Prek Phnov bridge on 20 September 2010 in which he issued the following warning: “If the opposition leader does not come back to face jail on his own, then the jail will be brought over to him.” Regarding this problem, the public is wondering whether Mr. Sam Rainsy will return to be sent to jail by Hun Xen or will he continue to live in exile? On this issue, Ou Virak, President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), is of the opinion that Sam Rainsy should return back to Cambodia and let Hun Xen send him to jail. At that time, the national and international community will clearly see the dictatorship regime in Cambodia, and they will then help Sam Rainsy. Nevertheless, Sam Rainsy knows clearly whether he should allow himself to become a pawn in Hun Xen’s hand or not. To Sam Rainsy, the current Cambodian courts are merely puppets, they are courts that serve only the interest of the CPP, i.e. a KR-style tribunal, therefore why should Sam Rainsy allow himself to become the pawn of such of judicial system? This means that Sam Rainsy will not show up to face the sentencing handed down by the Cambodian court controlled by Hun Xen. Therefore, Cambodia’s fledgling democracy will face a major problem: a democracy without the presence of an opposition leader. Nevertheless, regarding this issue, numerous analysts are of the opinion that the international community will do its utmost to pull Cambodia back to the right path to democracy, and it will not allow Hun Xen to pursue his misdeeds anyway he pleases. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 19 comments | Links to this post Labels: Biased judicial system | Hun Xen's travesty of justice | Injustice in Cambodia | Sam Rainsy | Vietnamese encroachment Kuwait recently purchased 130,000 hectares of rice fields in Cambodia, who pockets the money? Hun Xen during his visit to Kuwait in 2008 The 21st-Century Land Rush Wednesday, September 22, 2010 By Blake Hurst The American The move toward securing farmland in faraway places can be seen not only as a bet on increasing food prices, but also as a hedge against a breakdown in world trade. Farmers often joke that they don't want any more land... except their neighbors'. These days, the old joke is playing itself out on the world stage. Countries are looking outside their borders for more land in a bid to protect their food supplies. Large investors are betting on higher grain prices. It’s a twenty-first century land rush. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations documented the purchase of 2.5 million hectares by foreign investors in five African countries. China purchased 100,000 hectares in Zimbabwe, part of a series of investments that led to more than a million Chinese farmers in Africa. Indian companies purchased hundreds of thousands of hectares in Africa. The Hindustan Times reports that the government of India is urging Indian firms to buy land in South America. South Korea secured 690,000 hectares in Sudan. Saudi Arabia purchased half a million acres in Tanzania. Kuwait recently purchased 130,000 hectares of rice fields in Cambodia. Qatar leased 20,000 hectares in Kenya. China purchased 100,000 hectares in Zimbabwe, part of a series of investments that have led to more than a million Chinese farmers in Africa.Private groups are also making large investments in land. Steve Fairchild, editor of Today's Farmer, reports that George Soros raised $350 million to buy farmland in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Africa. The grain company Bunge is exploring the possibility of raising $100 million to purchase land in Brazil. John Lamb, an agricultural expert with the World Bank, notes that anecdotal reports place recent worldwide purchases of farmland by foreign countries and large investors at more than 125 million acres. If true, and the data is sketchy, that would amount to an area one third larger than Germany. The cause of all this activity is the 2007 and 2008 run-up in food prices and the widely accepted estimate that food demand will double by 2050. The last decade saw record low grain stocks worldwide, and 2007 and 2008 brought food riots in 15 countries. In the period shortly after World War II, the world had food stocks in storage equal to 365 days of use. Now, we have about 35 days’ worth of food stocks, a level that the United Nations estimates is only half of that needed to protect against bad harvests. The FAO estimated that an additional 50 million people worldwide suffered from hunger during the 2007 and 2008 increase in food prices. Anecdotal reports place recent worldwide purchases of farmland by foreign countries and large investors at more than 125 million acres.During the 2007–2008 commodity boom, at least half the countries that export rice either increased export taxes or banned the sale of rice. Some 25 countries implemented export controls. Even in the United States, where food supplies were never in danger, Costco limited its customers' purchases of rice to prevent hoarding. For the first time since the early 1970s, food security was front-page news. Even though grain prices have retreated from their 2008 highs, worries about the reliability of grain supplies have reappeared. Russia is suffering from recent wildfires and drought. The wheat crop has been devastated by the highest temperatures in 130 years. On August 5, Russia banned wheat exports until the end of the year, and the wheat market in Chicago surged 8.3 percent in one day. Over the past several years, Russia exported over 15 million metric tons of wheat per year. Russia urged Kazakhstan to embargo exports, and some observers worry that Russia will pressure Ukraine to curtail her exports as well. Demand for grain remains strong worldwide, as China has entered the U.S. corn market for the first time in a decade. Corn prices have been strong in response to hot U.S. weather, the unexpected demand from China, and the difficulties in the wheat market. Increasing food prices are not the only reason for sovereign interest in foreign land purchases. The threat of export embargoes and a worldwide flirtation with protectionism, especially in the United States, have frightened food importers. The move toward securing farm land in faraway places can be seen not only as a bet on increasing food prices, but also as a hedge against a breakdown in world trade. Nations are showing a marked lack of faith in their ability to import food when supplies are in short supply. Fifteen countries had food riots in 2007 and 2008.It is worth noting the backlash against foreign involvement in land purchases. A coup in Madagascar was at least partially caused by concern over a proposed deal with a South Korean company for a 1.3 million hectare lease. Hungary promised to allow foreign investment in farmland upon its accession to the EU. The accession agreement would allow foreign investment beginning in 2011, but most of the leading political parties in Hungary favor reneging on the deal. The Philippines nixed a land contract with China because of concerns about local food security. Farm workers in Mozambique resisted the settlement of thousands of Chinese workers on their leased property there. Brazil is promising to end foreign investment in land. Development groups worry about the displacement of local farmers, the advent of a "new form of colonialism," and the specter of natives going hungry while food is exported to the country that owns the farmland. Resistance to the "globalization" and "industrialization" of agriculture in developing countries is not surprising. Land is perceived as different than shares of stock or a factory or store. Not only that, but the inhabitants of the land changing hands usually suffer from weak land tenure and extreme poverty. The best way to protect existing farmers is to work toward increasing their efficiency, profitability, and property rights. Allegiance to local seeds and traditional methods of farming will not solve the problems of hunger, nor will it help the local farmers defend themselves against displacement by foreign investors. Productive and profitable farmers are likely to stay on the land, and will not be vulnerable to competitors from elsewhere. Neither China, India, nor the Gulf states have shown much interest in the American Midwest. The threat of export embargoes and a worldwide flirtation with protectionism, especially in the United States, have frightened food importers.Today, there are 0.25 hectares of arable land for person, but by 2050, the available land per person will have decreased to 0.16 hectares. In order to feed more people with less land per person, we will need more investment in agricultural infrastructure, agricultural technologies, fertilizer, seeds, machinery, roads, and storage and processing facilities. It would be better if the beneficiaries of that investment were local farmers, but it is certain that foreign investment will have to provide much of the capital needed to double food production in the next 40 years. The United States and the European Union can increase production, but much of the extra food will have to come from places outside the developed world, and developing countries don't have the capital resources to do what needs to be done. Investment will have to flow from places with hungry mouths and little available farmland to places where agriculture productivity has lagged and food production can be increased. The disconnect between America's discussion of food and the way food supply is seen in the rest of the world is almost complete. The experiences of 2007 and 2008 have faded from our collective memory, and we Americans continue to focus on the way food is produced rather than the terrifying prospect of scarcity. With all the focus in the United States on the drawbacks of plenty, what's happening in the rest of the world is not just a reminder of our good fortune, but also a cautionary tale. Blake Hurst is a Missouri farmer. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 7 comments | Links to this post Labels: Country for sale | Kuwait Monthly Documents Bulletin by Ta An Srok Khmer No. 10 Click here to read the bulletin in Khmer and French (PDF) Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 3 comments | Links to this post Labels: Cambodia politics | Op-Ed Hang Chakra to visit Tokyo based on an invitation by PEN International 22 September 2010 Khmer Machas Srok Translated from Khmer by Soch Click here to read the article in Khmer Based on an invitation by PEN International, Mr. Hang Chakra, the editor-in-chief of the “Khmer Machas Srok” and the “Nationalist Khmer Voice” newspaper, will depart to Tokyo on 23 September. During his mission in Tokyo during 24-30 September, Mr. Hang Chakra will meet with university professors and journalists to discuss on a number of work issues in order to increase the cooperation between Cambodian and International journalists. He will return back to Cambodia on 01 October. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 2 comments | Links to this post Labels: Hang Chakra | Khmer Machas Srok | Visit to Japan Forecast on the result of the Khmer-Thai leaders meeting on border dispute [1+1=0?] 22 September 2010 By Sek Bandith Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Soch Click here to read the article in Khmer Son Chhay still maintains that that best solution that will save time and money consists of bringing up a complaint to the UN so that the latter acts as an arbitrator to find justice in the border dispute with this neighboring country. BoPolitical analysts on the Khmer-Thai relationship are paying attention on the bilateral meeting between the leaders from the two countries who plan to meet each other during the ASEAN-US leaders meeting on 24 September 2010 in New York City, USA. The analysts indicated that, after the two countries renewed their diplomatic ties, the resolution of the dispute between the two countries remains at a standstill, and they see no reason for a progress up until now. At the same time, observers of the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand do not expect that the meeting between Hun Xen and Abhisit Vejjajiva in the US in the upcoming few days will result in anything positive at all. Dr. Sok Touch, an expert in political science who used to follow up closely on the Khmer-Thai problem, explained that, based on his study, the meeting between Hun Xen and Abhisit cannot be expected to provide any major good results. Sok Touch added that Abhisit is not a major key in the resolution of the Khmer-Thai problem: “Regarding this policy, I believe that the head-of-state-level negotiation will face difficulties. When one of them stands out as the negotiator, then his partner will be pushed down and this create enmity among the two countries, so we can see difficulties there. The Thai government needs a new player, i.e. one that will leads Thailand for 4 to 5 years, a full mandate. Abhisit is losing his popularity, therefore the meeting will only show to the world that the two countries want to find a resolution, but both of them (Hun Xen and Abhisit) only want to reap political benefits, in particular Thailand.” SRP MP Son Chhay also has no confidence that the discussion between the Khmer and Thai leaders which will take place in the US will bear any positive result on a resolution in the aggression of Thailand into Cambodia, at the Preah Vihear temple, unlike what the public is expecting for. However, Phay Siphan, mouthpiece of the Council of Ministers, said that the meeting between Hun Xen and Abhisit was requested by Thailand, and recently, it appears that Thailand has softened its stance, therefore the meeting will bring positive forthcoming outcome. Son Chhay still maintains that that best solution that will save time and money consists of bringing up a complaint to the UN so that the latter acts as an arbitrator to find justice in the border dispute with this neighboring country. Dr. Sok Touch explained also that any resolution in the Khmer-Thai dispute will require that Thailand finds its internal political stability first. On 20 September, Tith Sothea, the mouthpiece of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, rejected the poisoning atmosphere campaign initiated by Thailand to put blame on Cambodia and to take Cambodia hostage in the Thai internal political problem. This campaign was conducted through a publication of Thailand’s The Nation newspaper, dated 16 September 2010, stating “Security tightened over rumours of assassination plots [against Abhisit]”. The Nation reported that Thailand’s Santhan Chayanont claimed that a group of men in black, trained for combat in Cambodia, were staking out of Abhisit’s house. Nevertheless, Phay Siphan said that this accusation by Thailand will not affect the meeting between Hun Xen and Abhisit. In a speech given by Hun Xen during the inauguration of the Prek Phnov bridge on 20 September, he was mum on the meeting he will hold with Abhisit. Hun Xen will join the ASEAN-US leaders meeting on 24 September 2010 in New York City, based on an invitation from US President Barack Obama. He will also meet Abhisit Vejjajava for a bilateral talk as well. On 21 September, Koy Kuong, the spokesman of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “As confirmed, Mr. Hun Xen will hold a bilateral meeting with his Thai counterpart, but I did not receive the details of the meeting…” On Tuesday 21 September, Thailand’s website www.thaigov.go.th posted the schedule of Abhisit’s visit to the AEAN-US leaders meeting. The schedule indicated that Abhisit will have the opportunity to meet US investors during the US-ASEAN economic council meeting. Furthermore, Abhisit will also respond to a number of questions asked to him, including the border dispute with Cambodia. However, there was no mention of his discussion with Hun Xen. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 5 comments | Links to this post Labels: Abhisit | Border dispute with Thailand | Hun Xen | Useless bilateral talks with Thailand Let request Hun Sen to pay back debts to Vietnam or to ask Vietnam to reliquish those debts? Ok, let follow the good vision of Hun Sen regarding those debts relinquishing plea, Hun Sen has received numerous proposals from Cambodian people to reveal the truth amount of debts he has owed Vietnam in his 20 years in power: will he has to pay back to Vietnam or will he request Vietnam to relinquish those debts; or Hun Sen government under CPP leadership is going to tell Cambodian people that Vietnam has never lent any money to Cambodia because all troops presences and helps of Vietnam are free of charge, and it is for a long lasting friendship, national solidification, comprehensive cooperation and mutual assistance etc. Political Analysis Today: Op-Ed: Khmer Young Today, I cannot close eyes to easily fall asleep without posting political analysis elaborating Hun Sen's recent public rant towards his gut to "face to face" bargain Obama about debts Cambodia owed them from previous governments. Hun Sen might understand the universal laws of paying back debts although previous governments are enemy to him (this universal law might want to tell Hun Sen that if he doesn't want to pay debt, he can move his current resident from Cambodia and resettle his new government). But why Hun Sen still ranted that rhetoric to the public? The only one answer is to draw public attention for his political gain...but as everyone know from Hun Sen to all his subordinates will never reluctant to rant a good logic or justification to fool Cambodian people. I mean to fool Cambodian people because that logical political rhetoric is certainly "abusing of power". Ok, let follow the good vision of Hun Sen regarding this debts relinquishing plea, I do hope Obama will not listen to Hun Sen at all; or if Obama listen, Obama will tell Hun Sen that "I have my buddy representing in Phnom Penh, go there by yourself and talk with them in a good manner approach". Ok, let follow the good vision of Hun Sen regarding this debts relinquishing plea, Hun Sen has received numerous proposals from Cambodian people to reveal the truth amount of debts he has owed Vietnam in his 20 years in power: will he has to pay back to Vietnam or will he request Vietnam to relinquish those debts; or Hun Sen government under CPP leadership is going to tell Cambodian people that Vietnam has never lent any money to Cambodia because all troops presences and helps of Vietnam are free of charge, and it is for a long lasting friendship, national solidification, comprehensive cooperation and mutual assistance etc. I am really tempting to hear Hun Sen ranting about those debts involved with Vietnam! KY Click to Read More... Posted by Khmer Young | Permalink | | 7 comments | Links to this post Minister of Labour to be questioned by SRP MP Son Chhay at National Assembly on Minimum wage and others In response to SRP MP Son Chhay’s request to question Vong Soth, the minister of Labor and Vocational Training, the National Assembly’s Permanent Committee agreed to this request. The questioning will take place on a Thursday of October 2010. MP Son Chhay is asked to send over his questions to Vong Soth. Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 0 comments | Links to this post Labels: Minimum salary for garment factory workers | National Assembly | SRP MP Son Chhay Letter From Takeo MP Kuoy Bunroeun to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng SRP MP Kuoy Bunreoun Click on the letter in Khmer to zoom in Translated from Khmer LETTER FROM MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR TAKEO KUOY BUNROEUN TO DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND INTERIOR MINISTER SAR KHENG Phnom Penh , 20 September 2010 Object: Request for investigation into an armed robbery in order to arrest the perpetrators. On Sunday 19 September 2010 at 4:20 pm, while I was supervising works being done to my car by mechanics of the Raksmey garage located on street 95 in Chamcar Mon district in Phnom Penh, two armed men pointed their guns on my head and said "We have been ordered to kill you". I replied that they needed not kill me, that they could take what they wanted. They took my gold necklace, my diamond ring, my Nokia cell phone, my wallet containing US$500, my ID card, my National Assembly card, my driver license and ATM cards. The value of these items amounts to more than US$10,000. Then the two armed robbers left on their motorbike in total safety. I request from Your Excellency that an investigation be conducted in order to find and bring the robbers to justice according to existing laws. [signed:] Kuoy Bunroeun Member of Parliament for Takeo Click to Read More... Posted by Socheata | Permalink | | 17 comments | Links to this post Labels: Armed roobery in the middle of Phnom Penh Older Posts Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Breaking News Breaking News Free Press Magazine Khmerization Prey Nokor News Sithi.org - Human Rights Portal Center for Justice and Reconciliation Voice of Kampuchea Krom Radio World Khmer Radio Cambodian Independent Teachers' Association Khmer Heroes Cambodian Reconciliation Committee, Inc. 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Sam Rainsy, who is currently in the UK, is expected to meet a number of foreign lawmakers in a bid to resolve the charges against him ahead of the elections. (Photo: VOA)
Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 22 September 2010
“I will also go to Canada and to the United States to meet with lawmakers and senators. I expect there will be a movement of the lawmakers from these two countries.”
Sam Rainsy, the main opposition leader, sought outside help to return to the country this week. But the government has so far shown no willingness to allow it, and observers said the move could signal concern for his political future.
Sam Rainsy is facing criminal charges for publishing a map alleging Vietnamese encroachment on his party's website and a two-year jail term for uprooting markers along the Vietnamese border last year, which the court said was an attempt to incite racial hatred.
“We wish to see a political compromise,” said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, who said Sam Rainsy's appeal marked “concern” for his party's political bids in commune elections in 2012 and national elections in 2013.
Such compromise would have to come from “the participation of a third party,” he said