Archive for June 2013
SYDNEY, June 13 (Xinhua) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called whistleblower Edward Snowden “a hero to all humanity”in a live video address to the University of Sydney on Thursday.
“Men like Snowden have shown extreme degrees of civic courage,” he told a packed auditorium of delegates on the closing night of the 19th International Symposium on Electronic Art.
“Edward Snowden revealed something that I have been speaking about for a long time. .. That as the internet has penetrated every aspect of society, riding on with it is mass surveillance.
“He provided a clear direction so that we can understand where we are now, and for that he is .. a hero to all in fact of humanity. Because this phenomena is something that affects all of humanity,” said Assange.
Snowden is understood to be hiding out in Hong Kong after coming forward on Sunday as the source of leaked classified material exposing U.S. spy agency data collection program PRISM. Assange has previously expressed support for the ex-CIA contractor, calling on the international community to offer him protection.
Assange’s address to Australia also comes during the ongoing trial of U.S. Army private Bradley Manning, accused of leaking military intelligence to WikiLeaks.
Assange called on international citizens to show the same courage displayed by Snowden and Manning to achieve a more free and transparent society.
“We feel and live keenly because of the risks we take. Every day that we do not live up to our principles is a wasted day,” he said.
Assange also spoke about his plans for an Australian WikiLeaks party, backing his campaign to be elected to the Australian Senate- – which he hopes will allow him to escape extradition to Sweden from Britain.
Assange has now been closeted away in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for nearly a year, but the Australian hacker said his self- imposed imprisonment has only helped his cause.
“The way the situation is going is actually helpful for our cause for me to be in prison. For a while, not forever, but for a small while.
“The situation is very useful for projecting the principles that I believe in. And every day that we are able to project our principles into the world, every day that we are able to operate in such a way that we follow our beliefs .. is a day that has been truly lived,” he said.
PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged protesters to suspend demonstrations against Kem Sokha, vice-president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for his alleged denial of crimes during the Democratic Kampuchea, or Khmer Rouge regime.
“I’d like to appeal to protesters to suspend demonstrations against him at least until the general election (on July 28) in order to ensure the smooth atmosphere during the one-month election campaigns,” the premier said during the inauguration of the new headquarters of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.
He also advised local authorities not to give permission to anyone who asked to protest against Kem Sokha before the election.
Last Sunday, a nationwide protest, organized by the association of Khmer Rouge survivors, was held to demand Kem Sokha to apologize for his alleged denial of crimes committed at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison during the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.
The ex-prison was the main torture center during the regime, and around 14,000 people were killed at that detention center.
In February last year, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia sentenced former chief of Tuol Sleng prison Kaing Guek Eav to life in prison for overseeing the deaths.
However, Kem Sokha said that he would not apologize upon the protestors’demand because he had not denied the existence of the atrocities committed during the regime.
He said his audio-recorded remarks had been edited in a misleading fashion to cause turmoil ahead of the election.
Kem Sokha’s alleged remarks prompted the National Assembly of Cambodia to pass a Law on the Denial of Crimes Committed during the Period of the Democratic Kampuchea on Friday.
Under the law, individuals who deny the existence of crimes committed during the regime will be jailed from six months to two years and fined between 250 U.S. dollars and 1,000 U.S. dollars.
PHNOM PENH, June 11 (Xinhua) — About 1,300 foreign delegates from more than 120 countries would participate in the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee, to be held on June 16-27 in capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province, Cambodian senior official said Tuesday.
The milestone event will be held at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on June 16 by Prime Minister Hun Sen and closed on June 27 in Siem Reap province by Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister Sok An.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Sok An, who is the Chairman of the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee, said that the country was ready to host such important event. “As the host, I am pleased to say that preparation is well under way and I feel truly ready for the Session,” he said.
He said a special committee for organizing this session was created and afterwards its secretariat and five sub-committees were also established, being responsible for coordination with the World Heritage Center of UNESCO, logistics and finance, documentation, information and telecommunication, and security.
It is the first time that this impoverished nation hosts such a big meeting. He said that through this meeting, the World Heritage community would have the opportunity to know and understand the richness of Cambodian heritage and its efforts for its protection and safeguarding in the context of sustainable development.
“Cambodia is very proud to have inherited cultural and natural wonders from our ancestors, and it is our responsibility to preserve this legacy for future generations,” he said.
During the forthcoming session, he said that about 36 nominated properties around the globe would be examined, and it remained unknown how many of them would succeed in being inscribed on the World Heritage List.
He added that during the upcoming session, Cambodia would not submit a nomination dossier for any of its heritage sites for consideration. “Although Cambodia has already completed documents for nominating Sambor Prei Kuk temple in Kampong Thom province for inscription on the World Heritage List, as Cambodia is the host of this 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee and I am myself its Chairperson, we decided to hold back our nomination as a gesture toward improving the culture of impartiality within this international organization.”
Sok An said that there would be no discussion on the conservation and protection of the World Heritage Site of Cambodia ‘s Preah Vihear Temple in the upcoming session as its inscription was completed several years ago at the 34th and 35th sessions. ” Like all other properties on the List, this one is now subject to routine and regular monitoring and reporting every six years as to its state of conservation,” he said.
Answering the question about the urgent and difficult tasks in protecting the world heritage, Sok An said that to protect and preserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the properties as at the time of inscription on the World Heritage List was the urgent and difficult tasks.
He added that to communicate the beauty and significance of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, to recognize and value cultural diversity, and particularly to win over the youth to take up the mantle of protecting and preserving this legacy are also the most pressing tasks.
PHNOM PENH, June 12 (Xinhua) — The Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the kingdom’s largest shipping facility, has seen a 14 percent increase in cargo shipment in the first five months of this year thanks to growing business activities, a port senior official said Wednesday.
During January-May period this year, the state-owned port had received 112,200 twenty-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs (standard- sized containers), up 14 percent from 98,500 TEUs in the same period last year, according to the port’s statistics.
During the period, 419 ships had entered and left the port, up 5 percent compared with 400 ships in the same period last year.
“The growth is thanks to better economic situation in Cambodia and in the world,” the port’s director general Lou Kim Chhun said.
He said goods leaving Cambodia through the port were mostly garment and footwear products, and agricultural products, whilst cargo entering Cambodia via the port were consuming products, autos, construction materials, machinery, steel, steam coal, and petroleum.
The port was expected to list on Cambodian Security Exchange later this year, he said.
PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) — Cambodia has eyed to become a precious stone and jewelry hub in Southeast Asia region in the near future, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said Thursday.
Speaking at the opening of the 5th international gems and jewelry fair here, the minister said that with the fast growing market of over 14 million populations, Cambodia has emerged as one of the most attractive and fastest growing economies in the region.
“Gems and jewelry industry apart from being one of the key trade promotional areas of Cambodia, it is also an industry playing important roles for tourist attractions,” he said.
“Gems and jewelry fairs have been positioned as the most important sourcing platforms in Cambodia, and the country plans to be the prominent gem and jewelry market supplier in Southeast Asia region in the near future.”
He said with the many tax preferential or tax-free treatments extended to Cambodia as one of the Least Developed Countries by many developed nations including the United States, gems and jewelry traders around the region might move their bases to Cambodia to take advantages of their reduced tariffs on imports.
Besides, he said, Cambodia was admitted as a member of the Kimberley Process on November 30, 2012 in Washington D.C., the United States.
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds– rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. As of November 2012, the KP has 54 participants, representing 80 countries and regions, according to its website.
“As a member of the Kimberley Process, Cambodia will be able to obtain significant advantages to win legal trust in such industry, and be able to attract major investors to establish diamond-cutting factories in Cambodia,” Cham Prasidh said.
He said the gem and jewelry industry would create tens of thousands of jobs for the people, enabling them to acquire specific skills in cutting diamonds, as well as opening Cambodian market to the European Community, the United States and in other countries.
The impoverished country launched its first gem and jewelry laboratory in May last year under the joint venture with the London-based Intertek Company.
The laboratory is a venue to provide quality assurances, product testing, inspection and certification to ensure that all jewelry products sold in Cambodia are of specified quality and standard.
The 4-day fair, opened on Thursday at the Diamond Island Exhibition Center, brought together 78 exhibitors, mostly from Cambodia, Thailand, China’s Hong Kong, and Singapore, Cham Prasidh said.
An exhibitor from Hong Kong said the fair was a good opportunity for his company to seek new customers in Cambodia.
“This is the first time our company displays gem and diamond products here. There are a lot people coming here and they know a lot of jewelry. Hopefully, we can meet some new customers,” Isipro Ibasco, manager of Christelle Limited, told Xinhua.
Local exhibitors said the fair was a chance to promote their shops and also helped the government in promoting gem and jewelry industry.
“My company has joined such event every year, and I hope that the sales this year will be better than that of last year,” San Cheng Hak, manager of Cheng Hak Gems and Diamonds Co., said. “At our shop, all jewelry products are made in Cambodia, but some precious stones and diamonds are imported.”
PHNOM PENH, June 10 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s National Assembly on Monday defended its decision to expel 28 opposition lawmakers, saying that the expulsion was made in accordance with the Law on Political Parties.
Speaking in a press conference at the National Assembly, ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s lawmaker Chheang Von, chairman of the parliament’s foreign affairs commission, explained that the parliamentary committee stripped 28 opposition lawmakers — 25 legislators from the Sam Rainsy Party and 3 from the Human Rights Party — of their salaries and parliamentary status last Wednesday because they violated the Law on Political Parties by simultaneously holding membership in two parties at the same time.
“According to the Law on Political Parties, the article 15 states that a Cambodian citizen must not simultaneously hold membership in more than one political party, but if he/she holds membership in more than one party, his/her membership in the last political party is valid,” Chheang Von said.
“Based on this law, the parliament’s committee terminated their parliamentary status and salaries because those lawmakers quit their old parties to join the newly formed opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party in order to run in July’s general election,” he said.
The explanation was made after the United States on Saturday expressed a deep concern over the expulsion and urged the National Assembly of Cambodia to allow all elected lawmakers to fulfill their term.
“Such a decision starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process,” Jen Psaki, spokesman of the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement.
“We strongly support a political process that includes the full participation of all political parties on a level playing field,” she said. “Stripping the salaries and parliamentary status of opposition party legislators deprives the Cambodian people of their voice and hurts the democratic process in Cambodia. ”
She said that full participation of all elected representatives was essential to the democratic process.
“We urge the National Assembly leadership to allow all elected members to fulfill their commitment to serve the Cambodian people,” she said.
Chheang Von said that the U.S.’s statement was “unacceptable” and was interfering Cambodia’s internal affairs.
“Cambodia is a sovereign state, so the U.S. cannot order Cambodia to go left or right,” he said. “Cambodia has its own laws. We are strengthening democracy through law enforcement, we do everything based on laws; therefore, the U.S.’s statement is unacceptable.”
“I appeal to the U.S. to reconsider its statement,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong expressed his disappointment to see some comments by some foreign diplomats about Cambodia’s upcoming general election.
“This is the interference of Cambodia’s internal affairs,” he said during a meeting with Alison Burrows, new ambassador of Australia to Cambodia.
He said as a democratic country, Cambodia would do all its best to ensure a transparent and democratic election on July 28, and urged foreign observers to monitor the election.
Cambodia sets to hold a general election on July 28, according to the National Election Committee. Some 9.67 million eligible Cambodians will cast their ballots in the upcoming polls for the 123-seat parliament.
Eight parties will run in the election. Three major parties among them are the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party led by self-exiled leader Sam Rainsy, and the royalist Funcinpec Party headed by Princess Norodom Arun Rasmey, the youngest daughter of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.