Archive for September 2011
By Buth Reaksmey Kongkea, Phnompenhpost,30 September 2011
Senate President Chea Sim’s protocol chief was formally charged on Wednesday evening with fraud and producing fake public documents, an official said yesterday.
National Military Police chief Kheng Tito said that Kunthea Borey – one of five officials with links to Chea Sim who have been arrested recently – was charged based on information provided by the Senate president’s former bodyguard unit chief, Chhoeun Chanthan. He was arrested in August in connection with the same case.
“She [Kunthea Borey] was sent by police to detention at Prey Sar Prison awaiting further investigations and trial in the future,” he said.
Chea Sim’s former advisers Chan Kosal and Ponlork Ho together with former cabinet member Khieu Bora were arrested by officials on Friday and Sunday last week. They have also all been charged in connection with an alleged scam based on information from Chhoeun Chanthan.
Kheng Tito declined to comment in detail about the offence the charges stemmed from but links have been made in local media between the arrests and the appearance of Ponlork Ho and Chan Kosal on the blog of Malaysian businessman Armin Baniaz Pahamin in connection with an unspecified business deal.
Armin Baniaz Pahamin has not responded to emailed inquiries from the Post.
Kunthea Borey’s defence lawyer Kouy Thunna yesterday denied the allegations against his client and vouched for her good character. He added that Kunthea Borey had not committed any wrongdoing.
“She is very sincere and honest. Based on her sincerity and honesty, I can assume that she is a victim in this case,” he said.
Kunthea Borey’s fall from grace had taken her from a respected position in society to a prison cell with 40 other inmates, he added, requesting that she be released on bail based on her proven good character.
PHNOM PENH, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) — Cambodia on Friday reported 119 landmine casualties in the first seven months of this year.
Of the casualties, 27 people were killed and other 92 were injured, according to the report from the Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System.
The report showed that the casualties represented the decrease of 36 percent compared with the same period last year of 186 casualties reported.
It recorded that 74 percent of the victims were men, 19 percent were boys, and 7 percent were women and girls.
Since 1979 to July 2011, landmines had killed 19,603 people and injured 44,322 others.
Cambodia is one of the worst countries suffered from mines in the world as the results of nearly three decades of war and internal conflict from the mid 1960s until the end of 1998.
Cambodia’s five most mine-laid provinces are Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Preah Vihear.
PHNOM PENH, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) — Road accidents had killed 25 Cambodian people and injured another 166 during the celebration of the country’s second largest religious festival, Pchhum Ben on Sept. 26-28, according to a report from the Ministry of Public Work and Transport on Thursday.
The report showed that a total of 75 road accidents happened nationwide during this year’s celebration, down 24 percent compared to 99 cases in last year’s celebration.
Preap Chan Vibol, director of the transport department of the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, said Thursday the number of the dead was still the same as that of last year, but the injured people have dropped 30 percent to 166 people from 239 injured in last year’s celebration.
The Pchhum Ben festival is the second largest religious festival in Cambodia after the Khmer New Year.
Road accidents caused by three main factors: over-speed driving, reckless, alcohol driving, and overtaking, he said.
The death toll of road accidents has become the No. 1 killer in Cambodia among those of HIV/AIDS and mine casualties.
In 2010, 1,816 people were killed by road accidents, and 70 percent of the deaths were motorcycle drivers, according to the reports by the ministry. The country lost 279 million U.S. dollars from road accidents last year.
PHNOM PENH, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) — The United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya P. Subedi, has said that the overall situation of human rights in the country has improved in recent years.
A statement, which was released Thursday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, said Surya Subedi, in his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, acknowledged that “the overall situation of human rights had improved over the years in Cambodia, especially with the enactment of a number of key legislations.”
He also noted that “the Government has sped up its legislative program designed to implement, among other things, the key recommendations he made relating to the judiciary in his report last year.”
When reached for comment, Koy Kuong, spokesman of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said he had not yet seen the report presented by Surya Subedi.
By Kok Sap, 28/09/2011
It makes no difference of who run the country in the majority view.
Besides, voter education on democratic choice in election and political party is still a novelty to millions. The Patron and Personal Cult relations still run Cambodia politic. Generations still see people with gun and genetic tie passing down is the power holder and ruler. Though no need for them to fuss and fight regardless of how incompetent or cruel of the people in the lead.
In examples, Sam Rainsy and wife, Sihanouk and Ieng Sary kids remain in current politic of Cambodia. Sihanouk kids are in top shape with lucrative benefits for life from government, and Sam Rainsy, the grandson of the colonial agent Chaovavaing Thioun with his three uncles Thioun Mumm, Thioun Thieun, and Thioun Prasith are known Khmer Rouge leaders and cause of the killing fields, represents the opposing voice. The trio have had maintained mutual association from the 50′s with the alleged killer Ieng Sary, whose kid named Ieng Vuth is wealthy and Pailin deputy governor, allowed in to play present politic with invisible protection shields.
Other hand Rainsy wife, Saumura, is no stranger. Her flamboyant playboy father Thioulong was one of the top Generals, Minister, and Sihanouk’s film star. During Sangkum regime a touristic park in Kampot named after him. Per records his hands had involved in land grabbing in Battambang during the 60′s. Then in the 70′s, the 80′s he was assigned key portfolio in DK’s GRUNK and Sihanouk personal ambassador for life.
Now both Rainsy and Saumura are sharing the legislative duty and patrons of the political party naming after a private person. Et Voila, not much the member can complain about Sihanouk ego-eccentric style and nepotism. Evidently the blood line whether bad or good still runs Cambodia. A cliché said acorn never fell far from tree. Yet he claims nothing is personal but a pure political and national interest which raised many doubts in the party. That resonates the opposition leader personae that is needed to change, quickly.
Thus without guns and inherent titles, people see nothing else can bring comfort and luxury in life for them. Having name and face, although not all good and respected, still is a way to play and rise up in politic of the kingdom. So in no time soon, Cambodia acclimate how the democracy works and plays for the common poor and men interests.
In current situation, Cambodian voters are still confused in hearing the political speeches especially in democratic paradigms. For thousands of year, people of Cambodia accustomed to single family or ruling political party whether in politic or government. Worst, there is not much of a choice for a clean sleight politician in present Cambodia, null, nada, and zit.
Fresh idea in populism or pluralism in governance seemed an out of place nuance for them. Politicians capitalize on the uneducated and underserved population for generations to seize power from one another. The basic needs in day to day for the majority are still un-addressed by the government. They seemed bypassing the intellect and cognition of the political hero. Most of them talked over the voters head. Some even went far from reality” know nothing” about the rural and remote daily living.
Customarily, politic of the era was done and operated from a single location the Capital city. To the ruling or the opposition party, the full picture of daily life of the poor is still a myth.
Presently, the outcry about Beung Kak Lake residents outplayed millions living along the borderlines. The government made concession or compromise around the urban poor demands while the rural ones are not mentioned and ignored. Up to present, along the border lines, no good road systems to travel, no running or clean water in each village, no good healthcare services available within walking distance, not too motivating for the new recruited educators to relocate in the rural, no library nor well supported schools available, no incentive for the land owners to involve in industrial agriculture, no reliable postal service and no emergency or security in place when time of panic, and no self-defense mechanism in place for them in case of foreign incursion or robbery. Understandably that the world feared of civil unrest and war might return to Cambodia, if citizen were allowed to own firearm. Unlike Siam, its frontier settlers allowed to own firearms and means for self defense. And the government built bunkers and shelters for citizens in case of war. List can go on all day long but the politician of all colours and persuasion seemed unaware of.
The above short listed issues were hardly heard from the politicos’ mouth in advocating for the benefits and esteem of the rural. The rural people live in fear and no confidence in government or armed forces. They appear as the heavy end of the political pendulum since the Independence in 1953. From times and in all regimes, record showed the power and advantage rest in people bearing guns and big titles from the urban zone. Land was lost to the gun bearers and those who could afford to hire the guns from government to inflict pain and suffering on the poor land owners. There were plenty of evidences and proofs from each and every regime.
The current politicians, especially those in the opposing side, are not savvy to earn trust and confidence from the poor. They have forgotten the paradigms of change were usually driven by the farthest places from the Capital and Royal houses of this crumbling kingdom.
To the recent memory only the Khmer Rouge leaders who seemed to catch on and bank on the rural and remote regions people to proclaim their revolutionary victory. But for unknown reasons, from observation, even the opposition seemed focusing their relentless campaign and voice around the urban crowds. Rarely any of them would stake and stand by and with the rural poor in demanding justice and equal treatment from the abusers.
Conclusively no matter who or what, Cambodia real victory in politic and agents of change still remain at the heart and soul of those living in the remote and underserved areas.
Nonetheless, yet the politicos still don’t get the vision, just yet.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has shown an intention to help Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkwankid and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon get a royal pardon, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said in New York on Tuesday.
Mr Surapong said the matter was discussed with Hun Sen when he and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited Cambodia on Sept 15.
The Cambodian prime minister said he would help by getting a reduction of the jail terms they were sentenced to by the Phnom Penh Court. This would enable them to meet the requirement for seeking a royal pardon.
Steps must be taken before reaching that stage but it was unlikely to be too long before they were freed because Hun Sen had expressed his intention to help, said the foreign minister.
Mr Surapong said this move to help Veera and Ratree out under a royal pardon was not the same as that mentioned by Justice Minister Pracha Promnok on Monday.
Pol Gen Pracha said the two could not be freed early under a presoner exchange programme, in which a prisoner can be sent home after having served one-third of the sentence first and the case must not concern national security.
Veera and Ratree were among the seven Thais arrested by Cambodian authorities for illegally crossing the border into Cambodia on Dec 29 last year. Five of them confessed to the illegal entry charges, were sentenced to jail terms, and released shortly after some time in jail.
Veera and Ratree were additionally charged with spying. The court sentenced Veera to eight years in prison and Ratree to six years after finding them guilty as charged.
Under Cambodian law they must first serve two-thirds of their sentences to be eligible for a royal pardon.
Mr Surapong also said representatives of all countries he met with had asked about the state of Thai-Cambodian ties and they were pleased to learn from him that the two countries could now resume their normal relationship.
Relations between Thailand and Cambodia soured during the Abhisit Vejjajiva government because of internal political pressure within Thailand.
Prospects for improved relations came with the Pheu Thai Party’s victory in the July general election.
“Many countries are glad that Thailand can now talk with Cambodia, so the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) can now move toward becoming a single community in 2015,’’ said Mr Surapong.
They included German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Mr Thailand is expected to expand relations with Germany through exchanges of science, renewable energy and other innovations in which Germany has expertise.
During a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Thailand asked to opt out of hosting the CICA meeting because of budget and personnel constraints.
However, Thailand affirmed its firm policies on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) promotion and drug suppression as it wanted CICA to promote the cooperation of the border security and transnational crimes.
With Ukraine, Thailand has sought cooperation with it on trade expansion.
Thailand has asked Ukraine to allow multiple visa entry for Thai agro-business giant CP Group and Boonrawd Brewery, which have started doing business in that country.
In return, Ukraine asked Thailand to consider a 30-day visa free privilege for its citizens to visit Thailand, said Mr Surapong.
He also said Iran has asked Thailand for support it during the Human Rights Council meeting after it Teheran was condemned for not allowing women to drive cars.
Tida Tawornseth, the chairperson of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, answers the tough questions on the return of the former prime minister, where the red shirt movement ends and the Pheu Thai begins, and bilateral politics played out on a football pitch
Why did the red shirts play a football friendly match in Phnom Penh yesterday with a foreign government, one that has been in conflict with the Thai government in recent years to the point of bloodshed?
The truth is the Thai people do not want war. People everywhere want love and friendship. We want to visit one another and trade. Conservatives make war with neighbours to cover up internal dissent. We are not conservatives. We are ordinary Thais who want a better life. You can call us liberals.
Shouldn’t relations with neighbouring countries be the purview of the government? Why are the red shirts assuming that role? Are the red shirts acting as representatives of the Thai government?
We speak only for the red shirts, who comprise a sizeable number of the population. This is a good thing, promoting positive relations. They honoured us in the meetings to prepare [for the match]. Premier Hun Sen, [Deputy Prime Minister] Sok An, [Deputy Prime Minister] Tia Banh and other ministers were all there. On our side, we had Jatuporn [Prompan], Natthawut [Saikua], Weng [Tojirakarn, husband of Mrs Tida] and Korkaew Pikulthong. This is a good opportunity for the people to forge better bilateral relations. We do it in the name of the people.
Speaking of good relations, the red shirts have enjoyed them with the Cambodian government. Do you collaborate politically?
I don’t know about other people, but this is the first time that I have met and talked with them in a somewhat official capacity. I know that our neighbours watch us via satellite TV and that they are very interested in the people’s movement in our country. They see the conservatives wanting to provoke nation alistic conflicts to cover up internal problems. But we [the red shirts] only want friendship. They cheer for us.
Let’s go back to Sept 17, the party held in Cambodia. According to reports, Thaksin was there. So were Premier Hun Sen, Mr Arisman and Jakrapob Penkair. You were also there. What did you discuss with each of them?
I didn’t speak with them. The party was held in a big room. It’s strange, but in Cambodia they put the VIP table way in the back. I didn’t get to go on stage. We [red shirts] were able to have an exchange with the leader of Cambodia and that was good enough for me. I sat at the table with Premier Hun Sen’s son [Hun Manet], we talked. I don’t know what was happening on stage. Thaksin was at Premier Hun Sen’s table. I found out later that Mr Arisman played guitar and sang a couple of songs on stage. I didn’t see him or greet him. But I talked to ‘Khun Too’ [Jatuporn] and asked about ‘Khun Kee’ [Arisman]. He said Khun Kee said he wanted to see his friends, to see the people, and that there are many people who wanted to see Thaksin.
Do you think Arisman should return and turn himself in?
Yes, but it’s his right, his business. I can only speak sincerely according to what I believe. I don’t want to pretend or sugar coat.
His guilt or innocence and whether he has been the victim of injustice is one issue, but are you saying he has the right to flee from the law?
It’s not that he has the right, but we can’t force others to do things. You must understand that we are liberals. The red shirts are liberals. I am the chairwoman. I can’t order others. We believe it’s a personal issue. We won’t interfere. But we can offer our opinions. The media shouldn’t ask us to condemn our friends. We will not say things to make the conservatives happy.
As a friend, I understand, but, as a good citizen, if we find a fugitive on the run, shouldn’t we be obliged to inform the authorities?
If you look at it that way, then we have to talk about the justice process. Is it right that we are charged with terrorism? If [Arisman] refuses to turn himself in, perhaps he’s taking a stance to say that he refuses to accept the judicial process. The most important thing to remember is that without justice, there can be no reconciliation. If we talk about surrendering to the judicial process, If we talk about surrendering to the process of justice, why don’t we ask if the  coup was wrong? Where did the Constitution Court come from if not the Council for National Security? We have been abused for five years. You shouldn’t ask this question to those who have been victimised.
We have only won legislative power. Justice is a different issue. In Thailand, court power, judicial power and others are subject to the patronage system.
It’s likely that the military reshuffle will see high-ranking offers involved in the [May 19, 2010] crackdown retaining their positions or gaining promotions. What do you think of that as chairwoman of the red shirts?
I don’t quite remember who’s getting which position _ I don’t really care about ranks. I only care about the role they played in the crackdown. As the representative of the red shirts, I believe that those [officers] who stand accused of involvement [in wrongdoings during the crackdown] should be bypassed for promotion for now. Not punished, but bypassed until the truth comes out about, for example, what happened in the operation at Wat Pathum Wanaram [six people were killed at the temple _ which had been designated a safe haven _ during the red shirt crackdown. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand report released in May found that army actions were ''probably'' to blame for three of the deaths, although No criminal charges have been laid in connection with the deaths].
So make them stay put, no promotions until the judicial process is complete, correct?
By extension, should accused red shirts also stay put instead of becoming MPs and ministry officials until the judicial process is complete?
That’s a different issue.
They were the authorities at the time, we were not. I’m not saying the government is guilty, but the red shirts were imprisoned. What about the authorities who shot at people? Are they in prison? No, they get promoted.
But today, now that we’ve had elections and the Pheu Thai Party is in government, why are the red shirts still in action?
The red shirts are a people’s movement. We want democracy and justice. We are not a movement for the Pheu Thai or Thaksin. The question is with the elections, will there be democracy?
Are you afraid of another coup?
No, but it has happened 20 times. Don’t forget, I’ve been through it for 38 years.
There are accusations that the funding for the red shirts comes from Pheu Thai and Thaksin. During the red shirts’ occupation of Ratchaprasong intersection last year, I saw plenty of banners announcing which Pheu Thai MP helped to bring which group of red shirts from which province. Does that not show that the red shirts are involved with Pheu Thai and Thaksin?
It’s a good question and it’s an ammart [elite] question. Pheu Thai MPs and red shirts are allied because we were both victimised. Look at the yellow shirts and the Democrats, they were allies, and then they bicker.
Will the red shirts and Pheu Thai bicker?
You have to understand that the job of Pheu Thai MPs is politics. We are a people’s movement. They support the red shirts, because those red shirts are people from their districts, from their provinces. If MPs don’t support their constituents, they might fear losing votes the next time around.
Some say the yellow shirts and the Democrats can have a falling out because they draw from two bags of money, while the red shirts and Pheu Thai have the same bag of money.
That’s an insulting question to the people, to say that the mob comes out because of money.
Every mob in this country comes out because of money.
That is not true and unfair to the people who came out, even during heavy rains, the 20 million who voted, those who stayed when shooting began. How much money would it take to hire people to die? This is another ammart question.
No doubt, there are those on the ground who truly believe. I was there talking to them. But the bag of money may be an issue pertaining to the leadership. The leaders are the ones that get the money to rouse the people to come out.
That’s the accusation?
That’s an accusation.
That’s why the ammart will never beat the people. It’s insulting to the people. Where does Thaksin get the money? The ammart robbed him of over 40 billion baht, banned his parties. You think you’ve destroyed him. But what you gave him was more valuable than 40 billion baht _ the hearts of the people. You didn’t destroy Thaksin, you built Thaksin.
Thaksin gave an interview last month saying that he would only return to politics if the people wanted him to. Do the red shirts want him to be prime minister again?
Normally, I only speak about the UDD. If it’s not necessary I don’t speak about Thaksin.
But the red shirts and the people have one weapon, and that is the truth. If you ask, do we want Thaksin back? Certainly. Not just the red shirts, but the 15.6 million people [registered voters in the 20 provinces of the Northeast who voted for Pheu Thai in July's election]. Counting the votes that we were cheated out of, that’s 16 million. I believe everyone wants Thaksin back.
Back, and back as prime minister?
That’s a poor question. There’s a process to become prime minister. Thaksin has charges against him. We can’t speak of the premiership now. Will he return, I do know know. It’s his business, just as Mr Arisman’s business is his own.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that “the nightmare era” between Thailand and Cambodia was over as he led his side to a 10-7 victory in a friendly football match involving Thai and Cambodian officials aimed at showcasing the neighbours’ improving relations.
“Today is a historic event in the relations between Cambodia and Thailand.” Hun Sen said in his pre-match speech yesterday.
The friendly football match was cheered by a 50,000-strong crowd, including thousands of Thai red shirts.
Both teams were a mix of Thai and Cambodian politicians. The Red Peace team was led by Hun Sen, while Cambodian House, in blue, was led by former Thai premier Somchai Wongsawat.
Before the kick-off, Wilaiwan Somkwamkid, mother of jailed activist Veera Somkwamkid, met United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Tida Tawornseth and Pheu Thai list MP Weng Tojirakarn in Phnom Penh. Mrs Wilaiwan asked them to help negotiate with Hun Sen to release her son and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, who are both held in Phnom Penh for espionage offences.
Veera had written to the Cambodian government, vowing to quit political activities after his release, she said.
Mrs Wilaiwan said she hoped the Thai and Cambodian governments would finalise a prisoner exchange programme soon.
Hun Sen proposed the programme during informal talks with Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa in Phnom Penh on Friday.
Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya said Hun Sen should not think that he could benefit from close ties with ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra and the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
“Don’t think that you will get at our natural resources and territory by be-friending or playing football with the Pheu Thai MPs,” Mr Kasit said.
“There are millions of Thais who will not allow the government to give away national assets to Cambodia.”
Meanwhile, Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut yesterday criticised Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul’s dismissal of Asda Jayanama as head of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Land Demarcation. He also disagreed with the dismissal of Virachai Plasai, Thailand’s ambassador to the Hague, an adviser to the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission.
Mr Asda will be replaced by retired ambassador to India Bundit Sottiplarit.
Mr Asda and Mr Virachai had been appointed to handle Thai-Cambodian issues when the Democrats took power in 2008.
Mr Chavanond said the two had been strong and knowledgeable advocates for the Thai side in the dispute over the 4.6 square kilometre disputed zone around Preah Vihear Temple.
“I wonder if the two diplomats were removed to make it easier for [the Pheu Thai government] to achieve agreements with Cambodia,” he said.
Mr Surapong yesterday defended his decision to dismiss Mr Asda, saying the diplomat had made no significant progress on land demarcation between Thailand and Cambodia.
He said Cambodia wanted to see land demarcation between the two countries completed within the Yingluck government’s term.
“I believe the new committee members will perform better than the past committee,” Mr Surapong said.
The minister insisted he had the right to choose to replace Mr Asda and Mr Asda should give other people a chance to do the job.
Mr Asda said on Friday that he was informed about his dismissal on Sept 13, but was not given a reason.
The Nation/Asia News Network, 24/09/ 2011
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit yesterday defended former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Skype call to a meeting of Pheu Thai Party ministers on Wednesday as appropriate in light of Thaksin’s role as his adviser.
“I have two advisers: Thaksin and former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. I asked [Thaksin] for advice; he did not Skype the meeting unsolicited,” said Yongyuth, who is also Pheu Thai Party leader.
He said the leaders of the Chart Thai Pattana, Bhum Jai Thai and Chart Pattana Puea Pandin parties similarly seek advice from Banharn Silapa-archa, Newin Chidchob and Suwat Liptapanlop, respectively.
The three were banned from politics after their parties were dissolved.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra makes her own decisions, Yongyuth said. “She is not dominated by her brother, Thaksin.”