Archive for January 2010
Written by Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio
29/01/2010(PPPost)—Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has revealed additional evidence that he says substantiates his allegations of Vietnamese border incursions, a day after Svay Rieng provincial court handed him a two-year jail term for his involvement in the uprooting of border markers.
Speaking by live video feed from France, the Sam Rainsy Party president accused the court of convicting him at the request of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
“We have enough evidence of the planting of border markers,” he said during the video press conference. “These posts are not border posts because they are 200 or 300 metres from the border. Such posts are counterfeit posts, illegal posts, invasion posts planted in Khmer farmers’ ricefields.”
The new evidence released by Sam Rainsy consisted of a detailed methodology for the creation of the maps released by the SRP on Sunday, which showed Vietnamese border markers 184, 185, 186 and 187 sitting well inside Cambodia’s legal territory as defined by French and American maps.
“If they planted the posts on our land without telling us, we have the right to pull them out,” Sam Rainsy added.
In October, Sam Rainsy joined villagers in uprooting six temporary demarcation posts near the border with Vietnam, an act Hanoi described as “perverse”. The villagers claimed the posts had been placed on their land by the Vietnamese authorities.
Sam Rainsy said that after he uprooted the markers in October, Vietnamese authorities hurried to remove other markers nearby, proving they were “worried” that word of the incursions would spread.
He also reiterated his offer to return to Cambodia to face arrest if the authorities release two local villagers imprisoned in connection with the uprooting of the border markers.
In Wednesday’s court hearing, Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, were sentenced to one year each in prison on charges of uprooting the posts. All three accused were also ordered to pay 55 million riels (around US$13,253) in compensation.
“This story is an international political issue,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that he would take the case to international bodies in Europe. “It will not be resolved by the court because two countries have problems. It must be resolved by the international community.”
Tith Sothea, a government adviser and member of the Council of Ministers’ Press Quick Reaction Unit, dismissed the lawmaker’s comments, saying Cambodia was not under the control of any outside power. He added that the court had tried his case in line with standard procedure.
“Sam Rainsy’s announcement that he will file a complaint to international courts is not surprising,” he said.
But he said the opposition leader’s appeals had come too late, adding that he should have made formal complaints while he was in the country.
“If he has evidence, he should have used his rights as a people’s representative to inform National Assembly President [Heng Samrin] of his complaints,” Tith Sothea said.
But some observers said Sam Rainsy’s role in the border stunt had been consistent with the duties of an elected representative of the people.
“An MP in his case is doing his job as an MP. He went to see the people and went to solve their problems,” said Son Soubert, a member of the Constitutional Council.
“The National Assembly should support him instead of lifting his immunity, because he is just doing his job.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) said the outcome of Wednesday’s trial was an example of the “rotten” state of Cambodia’s democracy.
A familiar pattern
The current situation recalls Sam Rainsy’s yearlong period of exile during 2005 and 2006, when he left the country to avoid prosecution on defamation charges. At that time, a Royal pardon paved the way for his return in February 2006 .
Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said that, as in 2006, the two sides would likely reach a political settlement allowing Sam Rainsy to return from Europe and avoid prison.
“This is not the first time…. There will be a resolution of the conflict later on,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on January 5 that he would not request a pardon for the SRP leader, but Thun Saray said that such “deals” usually come prior to elections, when democratic legitimacy is more of an issue for the government.
“When the election happens without an opposition party, it doesn’t have much credibility,” he said. “I think both sides need each other.”
The next major poll – the commune council election – is set to take place in 2012.
Written by Vong Sokheng and Sam Rith
29/01/2010(PPPost)–Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday warned of harsh sanctions for soldiers and military commanders involved in illegal businesses, identifying several officials by name who he said were guilty of corruption.
Speaking at the conclusion of a conference on military reform, held at the Ministry of Defence, Hun Sen said even high-ranking officers were not immune from the government’s effort to expose unlawful activity, calling this effort essential to plans discussed at the conference for military reform over the next five years.
“It is time to stop every activity involving illegal business or the support of illegal business. [I] don’t care how many stars or moons you have – I will fire you, and nobody will keep corrupt commanders in their seats,” Hun Sen said. “In Cambodia, the prime minister directly controls the troops.”
Hun Sen identified several generals who said were guilty of corruption: Sum Samnang, director-general of logistics and finance at the Ministry of Defence; Chao Phirun, director-general of the military’s materials and technical services department; Ung Samkhan, commander of the
Cambodian Navy; and Chhoeun Chanthan, chief of Senate President Chea Sim’s bodyguards.
The premier also acknowledged that many soldiers were involved in illegal activities including logging, land grabbing, smuggling and illegal fishing. “I declare my absolute order [to stop illegal businesses] — otherwise military reform will not move forward,” Hun Sen said.
Following the passage of the Kingdom’s long-awaited Anticorruption Law, Hun Sen said, all government officials and politicians will be required to disclose their assets to a permanent committee to fight corruption, which will be housed at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces headquarters in the capital’s Daun Penh district. A draft of the Anticorruption Law was approved by the Council of Ministers in December, and is likely to be passed by the National Assembly in April.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), said he was pleased to hear the prime minister address the issue of land grabbing by the armed forces.“What I am happy about is that he acknowledged past misdeeds,” Yim Sovann said, adding that the SRP’s recommendations on these issues had been ignored for years.
Thun Saray, president of local rights group Adhoc, called for Hun Sen’s recommendations to be put swiftly into action.
“His speech is very good, but we also ask for real implementation … sometimes when we take his speech to lower levels for implementation, they do not listen,” he said.
29/01/2010(AFP)–Hanoi – A Viet court handed a four-year jail term to a writer on Friday for anti-state ‘propaganda’, a court official said, the latest in a string of jailings of democracy activists by the communist state.
The conviction came despite a last-minute appeal by three US legislators for Pham Thanh Nghien’s release. She was ordered to spend three years under house arrest after her time in prison, said the court official, who declined to be named.
Nghien, 32, was convicted and sentenced at a trial lasting less than a day in the northern port city of Haiphong. Rights activists have said that Penal Code Article 88, which was used against her, criminalises peaceful dissent.
Before the trial her lawyer, Tran Vu Hai, said Nghien was accused in connection with a request she made to authorities in 2008 to hold a demonstration against inflation.
She was further accused of staging a sit-in at her house with a banner protesting at Vietnam’s handling of maritime relations with China and of posting a picture of her action on the Internet, he said. Foreign journalists and diplomats were not permitted to attend the trial.
‘I am very disappointed with this verdict, which is too heavy,’ Nghien’s lawyer said, adding the writer had already expressed a wish to appeal. ‘Before the court, she only acknowledged her acts but did not acknowledge her offence.’
29/01/2010(AFP)–Phnom Penh – A human rights group accused Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday of trying to reverse political pluralism after the nation’s main opposition leader was sentenced to jail this week.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is now in France, was convicted and sentenced in absentia on Wednesday to two years in prison for uprooting border markings with neighbouring Vietnam and for inciting racial discrimination.
Two villagers were also found guilty of intentionally damaging temporary border posts during the incident in October and each were jailed for a year.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the court’s closed-door trial was ‘a farce’ that took Hun Sen’s campaign of ‘persecution of critics to a new extreme and highlights government control over the judiciary’.
‘The Cambodian government’s relentless crackdown on critics continues apace in 2010,’ said Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, in a statement. ‘Hun Sen seems intent on reversing the political pluralism that has been created over the past two decades.’
The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, a local rights group, said this week that Sam Rainsy’s conviction ‘reflects Cambodia’s rotten democracy’. Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their contentious border in September 2006 in a bid to end decades of territorial disputes.
29/01/2010(AP)—Hanoi- An author and democracy activist who criticised Vietnam’s communist government went on trial on Friday on charges of spreading propaganda against the state, as authorities continued their crackdown on dissent.
Pham Thanh Nghien’s trial in the northern port city of Haiphong was closed to Western media and diplomats, who are ordinarily allowed to watch such proceedings on closed-circuit TV at the courthouse.
Nghien, 32, was the 14th Vietnamese democracy activist to face charges in the last three months. All the others were quickly tried, convicted and jailed. Last year, US-based Human Rights Watch gave Nghien an award for writers who have been targets of political persecution. The organisation praised articles she wrote promoting human rights, democracy and better treatment of landless peasants.
Nghien, an independent journalist, was arrested at her home in September 2008 while staging a protest against the Vietnamese government’s policies toward China, its massive northern neighbor.
She displayed two banners urging the government to take a tougher stance against China in territorial disputes over the Spratlys and Paracels, two island chains in the South China Sea. She is also accused of posting photographs of her protest online.
Nghien’s trial is expected to last a day. The outcome of such proceedings is virtually always a guilty verdict. In October, several democracy activists convicted on similar charges received prison sentences of between two and six years.
លោកអន្ទិតគោលោត សយសុភាព បានមកដើរលេងស្រុកអាមេរិកប៉ុន្មានថ្ងៃមុននេះ ហើយ ថ្លើមធំព្រហើនខ្លាំងហ៊ាននិយាយថាប្រជាជនខ្មែររស់នៅក្នុងតាមរដ្ឋនៃ ស រ អាភាគច្រើនៗបានបែរមកការគាំទ្រគណបក្សប្រជាជនស្មែរក្រោយពេលដែលពីមុនពួកគេធ្លាប់បានគាំទ្រ
គណបក្សដទៃ។ហើយបំផ្លើសទៀតថាការផ្លាស់ប្តូរជំនឿនេះ មកពីពួកគេយល់ថាគណបក្ស ប ជ ជ ខ បានកសាងប្រទេសឲ្យជ្រឿនទៅមុខឯបក្សដទៃៗគ្មានបានធ្វើអ្វីសោះ។
លោកអន្ទិតគោលោត(លោកឪនទតគោលិទ) សយសុភាពបានសន្មត់ដោយគ្មានអ្វីជាគោល បញ្ជាក់ ច្បាស់លាស់និងជាធាតុពិតក្រៅពីការវាយស្មានដ៏រាក់កំផែលរបស់ខ្លួនឯងនោះសោះ។
ទី១ដោយមកពីខ្លួនមិនយល់ពីភូមិសាស្រ្តនិងចំនួនជនដើមកំណើតខ្មែរមានសរុបទួទាំងប្រទេសស រ អា ច្បាស់លាស់។មិនមែនក្រុងពីរបីដែលខ្លួនបានទៅដើរលេងនោះវាជាតំណាងឲ្យទីតាំងរស់នៅរបស់ខ្មែរនៅ ស រ អា ទាំងអស់នោះទេ។
មែនហើយទោះខ្មែរនៅតំបន់ជុំវិញ Washington DC ឫ Philadelphia និង Lowell ក៏មិនមែន១០០
ភាគ១០០ដែរដែលគាំទ្រឫជឿបក្ស ប ជ ជ ខ នោះ។ហើយក្រុងទាំងនោះរួមគ្នាមានខ្មែរមិនលើស
ពី៥០ ០០០ទៅ ៦០ ០០០ទេ។ក្នុង ស រ អា ទាំងមូលមានខ្មែររស់នៅមិនតិចជាងពី៣៥០ ០០០ទៅ៤០០ ០០០នាក់ទេ។តួរលេខរាយការណ៏ របស់សយសុភាព មិនមែនត្រឹមតែមិនត្រូវ គឺវាមិនមែនជាតួរ តាង ជាភាគច្រើនបានទៅទៀត។នេះបានចាស់លោកហាមថាចេះឯងឪយក្រែងចេះគេ។
ប ជ ជ ខវាជារឿងផ្ទាល់ខ្លួន របស់អន្ទិតទេ។
តែការដែលខ្លួនធ្វើឲ្យជនដឹកនាំបក្ស ប ជ ជ ខ រិតតែឡើងជោរទាំងងងិតងងល់នោះដូចពាក្យគេថាវាមិនខុសមែន គឺដូចអាខ្វាក់ជាអ្នកប្រាប់អាខ្វិនឪយដើររកទិសក្នុងយប់អន្ធការ។
ប ជ ជ ខ ដោយមិនចេះខ្មាស់ការពិត។នេះមិនមែនជាបុគ្គលិកលក្ខណ:អ្នកសារ ព៌តមានៗ ខួរ គិតពិតៗនិងគោរពគោលសីលធ៌មរបស់អាជីពទ។
បើកុហកខ្លួនឯងគ្មាននរណាថាអីទេតែលោកអន្ទិតគោលោតបានសម្អុយកេរ្តិ ខ្មែរភាគច្រើននៅស រ អា ដោយគេមិនទាំងដឹងខ្លួនផង ថាគេសុទ្ឌជាអ្នកជឿនិងគាំទ្របក្សប្រជាជនស្មែររបស់ខ្លួននោះវាជាការកុហកយ៉ាងងងើលឥតចេះអៀនខ្មាស់ប្រៀបមិនខុសពីមារយាទសំផឹងអត់កាតនៅ
28/01/2010 (AsiaSentinel)—Variations of a bomb detector found to be fraudulent in the UK are being peddled in Southeast Asia
Early this week, police in the United Kingdom arrested Jim McCormick, the director of a company that sold thousands of allegedly fraudulent bomb detecting equipment devices to the Iraqi Army, which has been paying the price in maimed bomb squads and raising the possibity of mass casualties caused by undetected explosives passing through security checkpoints.
The UK also banned the export of the equipment, presumably putting the company, ATSC, out of business. However, similar bomb detection devices, manufactured by a UK-based firm called Global Technical Ltd, are being peddled to militaries in Thailand and the Philippines and possibly to others around Asia through a Singapore-based company called Electronic K9 Singapore Pte Ltd, which has a Manila website, and a second in Thailand called Avia Satcom Ltd.
Given the number of deaths reported to military personnel using these types of devices in several countries, and the widespread publicity given to their lack of effectiveness, it raises questions why military leaders in the Philippines, Thailand and other countries are having anything to do with them. US and British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan famously won’t go near anybody using them due to profound mistrust over their effectiveness.
The devices have been likened by critics to dowsing rods, forked wooden sticks that supposedly will point to the ground when the person holding one walks over an area where water might be found. According to a BBC report, the only electronic equipment contained within the device, claimed by the maker to be powered by static electricity generated by the operator, was a security tag used by retailers to detect shoplifted goods.
Critics question whether military procurement officials aren’t being lured by commissions from the manufacturers to purchase the devices. The companies selling the devices appear to be concentrating on third-world countries where procurement officials are more malleable. The Thai purchases, according to a Thai NGO called the Working Group on Justice and Peace, were via a ‘secret budget’ which gives makes the military procurement officers unaccountable to the Thai parliament.
Calls to Electronic K9 in the Philippines were not answered. An answering machine in Singapore picked up the call and announced that callers had reached someone named Dennis Chia. He did not return the call. A call to Global Technical in the UK reached a secretary who referred the call to a David Vousden, who said by email that he would reply to questions next week. Told that a story was being prepared for release today, he didn’t respond. The Singapore police, asking if any complaints had been filed against Electronic K9, said they only responded to requests for information from other police departments.
Critics, however, say the bomb-detector being peddled by Electronic K9 and called a GT200, isn’t much better than a divining rod and that in fact it has caused several deaths to bomb detection personnel in Thailand and other areas when it failed to detect any explosives, which then detonated, according to a November news release by a Thai NGO called the Working Group on Justice and Peace.
Electronic K9′s Singapore website asks: “A Bullet in a haystack? From search, detection to forensics, review…how GT200 remote substance detection is used to secure potentially dangerous insurgent areas in an Asian country.” The GT200, according to the website, can also detect crystal methamphetamine, to which – the website claims – an eye-popping 10 percent of Filipinos are addicted. Other claims are that the device can pick up not only explosives but humans, gold, ivory, poison, currency and tobacco from long distances away.
Sniffer dogs – real canines, or K9s, don’t work, Electronic K9 said on its website, quoting a trial in New South Wales, Australia, in which sniffer dogs were used to target drug couriers but found illegal substances in only 2 percent of the cars that were pulled over and resulted in only a single conviction.
The website shows what is purported to be a training course in the Philippines and notes that the GT200 “allows for area reduction when conducting large area searches in open country and mountainous terrain, reducing the overall search time and focusing only on those indicated locations. Buried arms caches, narcotics stores and underground tunnel systems can be detected from distances of over 700 meters.”
Normal detection devices, however, weigh several hundred pounds and are typically stationary and used in airports. They require that suitcases and other packages possibly containing explosives be passed through or by them. Detecting buried arms caches 700 meters away with a device that appears to resemble a divining rod appears unlikely.
“Perhaps GT200 management would care to demonstrate confidence in their eccentric equipment by personally accompanying Thai military and police patrols,” a security analyst told Asia Sentinel. “This would remove any suggestion the Thais were handling the kit incorrectly, while regrettably almost certainly adding to the steadily rising death toll in the south.”
Numerous scientific studies have given no indication that the devices can detect explosives or, for that matter, truffles.
According to a November New York Times article, ATSC was peddling the devices in Iraq at prices ranging from US$16,500 to $60,000 each. The Thai Army reportedly has bought 535 GT 200 devices at a cost ranging from Bt900,000 (US$27,250 to Bt1.2 million for add-ons, according to Lt Gen Daopong Rattansuwan, the deputy army chief of staff, before a house committee in October last year. Some 200 of them were purchased to detect explosives in Southern Thailand where a fundamentalist Islamic insurgency has taken many lives. Other agencies using the device, according to the Working Group on Justice and Peace, are the Directorate of Armament under the Air Force, the Naval Ordnance Department, the Navy, the Royal Thai Police, the Central Institution of Forensic Science under the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, and the Provincial Electricity Authority.
“The GT200 is considered an important device by the security forces in their counter-insurgency operations to help them detect bomb-making substances in the southern border provinces of Thailand,” the Working Group on Justice and Peace said. “However, on several occasions the device is known to have shown false-negative and false-positive results which then lead to serious damages to the lives and freedoms of the local population as well as security forces.”
The GT200, according to the Working Group, “showed false negative results on 6 October 2009 at a bombing near Merlin Hotel, Sungai-Kolok district, Narathiwat province which caused one death and several injuries, as well as on 19 October 2009 during a bombing at the Pimonchai market, Muang district, Yala. During these two incidents, officials were called beforehand to check a car and motorcycle under suspicion. The device was not able to detect any dangerous substances. The bombs exploded a few minutes after the examinations.”
Those were just some of the undetected bombs. The device also delivered false positives, resulting in the arrest of people carrying nothing more than a plastic bag with vegetable oil.
The New York Times reported that suicide bombers smuggled two tons of explosives into downtown Baghdad on Oct. 25, killing 155 people and destroying three government ministries, after passing through at least one checkpoint where the ATSC version of the device was being deployed.
The Iraqis, however, believe passionately in them, the New York Times reported.
28/01/2010 (AFP)—LYON (France) – Police have seized 20 million counterfeit or illegal medical products in cross-border operations in South-east Asia, arrested 30 people and closed down more than 100 pharmacies and illicit drug outlets, Interpol said Wednesday.
The operation, dubbed Operation Storm II, was carried out in eight countries – Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – between July and November last year under the framework of the World Health Organisation’s International Medical Products Anti-counterfeiting Task Force.
The seized products included antibiotics, anti-malarial and birth control medicines, anti-tetanus serums, aspirin and erectile dysfunction drugs.
Twelve million of them were fake and the best before date of eight million had either lapsed or the medical drugs had been otherwise altered.
Interpol’s Secretary General Ronald Noble said a Storm network would be set up in South-east Asia to organise and improve crackdowns on counterfeit products.
‘This collaborative response is all the more important when globalisation and modern technology mean that the methods of producing and distributing counterfeit medicines cut across borders and are developing and increasing, thereby posing an increased threat to people’s health and lives.
28/01/2010 (AFP)—YANGON – Myanmar’s detained pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday described as ‘unfair’ a minister’s comment that she would be released in November as it pre-empted a court decision, her lawyer said.
Home Affairs Minister Maung Oo reportedly told a meeting of local officials in central Myanmar last week that the release of the 64-year-old, who has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years, would come in November.
Ms Suu Kyi ‘said the home affairs minister’s comment was totally unfair,’ her lawyer, Nyan Win, told AFP after meeting her on Thursday.
A decision is expected from Myanmar’s top court within three weeks on an appeal against her conviction last August. The conviction related to an incident in which a US man swam to her house and led to her being sentenced to another 18 months under house arrest.
‘She said the case has not reached the end yet. She said the court has the right to make its own decision. Saying this is hurting the court decision,’ Mr Nyan Win said.
24/01/20101(AP)–Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s military says its troops have clashed briefly with Thai soldiers along a disputed border area.
Lieutenant General Chea Tara, deputy armed forces commander and field commander for the area, said Cambodia suffered no casualties in the fighting on Sunday, about 12 miles (20 kilometres) east of Preah Vihear temple. He said fighting began when Thai troops intruded into Cambodian territory.
Defence Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Chhum Socheach said there had been two firefights lasting about five minutes each beginning shortly after 9am (0200 GMT, 10am Singapore time).
Thai military authorities could not immediately be contacted for confirmation of the fighting in an area which has seen several deadly clashes in the past couple of years.