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Posted by: | Posted on: July 15, 2018

The Future of Cambodia’s Opposition

Op-Ed: Medium

Clean fingers


Choice of Cambodian Voters for this July 29, 2018 election

ppa_3_1 The GDP was founded in August 2015. A year later, its chief architect, Kem Ley, was assassinated in broad daylight in Phnom Penh on a Sunday morning.

The popular social commentator was on July 10, 2016, shot in the temple and beneath his arm from point-blank range moments after sitting down for a gas-station coffee in a Caltex in central Phnom Penh — a twice-daily ritual.

After her husband’s death, a pregnant Bou Rachana fled with her four young sons to Bangkok, where she gave birth to a fifth son. She was then last year granted a visa to move to Melbourne, Australia, where she now lives and has slowly started to speak out on social media.

Crushingly for Saing Koma and Inn, Rachana has sided with the CNRP.

Two days after the GDP selected Saing Koma as it candidate for prime minister in the July 29 election, Rachana took to Facebook to post a selfie showing a raised forefinger — symbolically unblemished by the ink used to stain fingers to prevent people voting twice — to declare her stance.

The image of the raised finger, which has become an increasingly popular gesture for pro-boycott voices in the face of government threats (named the “Clean Finger” campaign), was widely shared by Cambodians.

Bou Rachana poses with her “clean finger” in front of an image of her late husband Kem Ley. (Facebook)

Then in an interview with Radio Free Asia a week later, she said she believed her husband too would have boycotted the vote.

“I will absolutely not participate in this mess of an election and what’s more, if my husband still had his life, he too would not be satisfied and he too would not go and join in the election,” Rachana said, calling the ballot a meaningless exercise.

“We are citizens, we have Cambodian blood, and we are the masters of our nation and owners of our ballots,” she said in the interview. “We have the right to decide [who to vote for] according to the desire of our hearts,” she said.

It was a victory for the CNRP, not least because Rachana and her sons attracted intense pity from Cambodians across the political aisle. But it was also a symbolic victory because Kem Ley’s shadow still looms over Cambodia as a memory of a time when things finally seemed to be improving.

For a while, the plain-speaking analyst, who spoke in allegories and rose to prominence in frequent Radio Free Asia interviews after the disputed July 2013 election and amid the months of protests afterwards, had appeared to be deftly carrying out a political balancing act long thought impossible by many.

Unusually for a Cambodian in the political spotlight, he had strived to keep up an reputation of independence between the government and opposition, believing that Cambodia would forever be kept under the thumb of foreign powers if no one stood up to unite its leaders in common cause.

For many who had tired of watching Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy bickering for the past two decades, he was a breath of fresh air. Only a lowly adviser in the Health Ministry shortly before the 2013 election, he quickly built a large following with his readiness to criticize the CPP and CNRP in equal measure.

Kem Ley delivers a lecture to monks and students in Battambang province in 2014. (Alex Willemyns)

Differences in the CPP

Kem Ley’s message had seemed to be seeping through to both parties.

On the back of Kem Ley’s advice, the CNRP’s Sokha announced that tycoons who had grown rich under the CPP would not fear reprisals or seizures of their wealth if the CNRP came to power but had to be open to reform.

 Perhaps most importantly for the CNRP’s current standoff with Hun Sen, some prominent government leaders who have long lived in the prime minister’s shadow appeared to be listening to Kem Ley’s message too.
 Among the slew of reported “moderates” in the CPP, Interior Minister Sar Kheng has most often been pointed to as proof that there remains hopes of change within the ruling party. Notably, it has also often been these officials who the CPP has deployed in its negotiations with the CNRP.

The interior minister has long been Hun Sen’s main rival for power in the CPP, after inheriting a vast patronage network centered on his ministry and in Battambang province in the west from his brother-in-law — the CPP’s late founding president Chea Sim, who died in 2015.

According to Brad Adams, who was a U.N. official in Phnom Penh in the 1990s and is now deputy head of Human Rights Watch for Asia, Kheng and his allies even refused to join in Hun Sen’s ouster of his Funcinpec coalition partner, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, in the 1997 factional fighting.

 Most recently, after Kem Sokha escaped Hun Sen’s initial attempts to arrest him in March 2016, a spokesman for Kheng’s ministry even surprised multiple news outlets over a two-day blitz by announcing that police might refuse to carry out any further arrest warrants issued for the opposition leader.

His arrest would cause chaos, he said, and police must prevent chaos. It appeared to be a major opening in the spirit of promoting reconciliation between the parties promoted by Kem Ley, but the reprieve was short lived.

 Two months later, with Kem Sokha having still not left his sanctuary in the CNRP building and Hun Sen’s arrest threats ramping up, the premier’s top military ally Kun Kim told the media he could have soldiers make the arrest.

The next day, the Air Force’s Chinese-built helicopters and Navy speedboats circled the CNRP’s riverside headquarters, where the opposition leader had been in hiding from Hun Sen’s threats for months. In front of the building, balaclava-clad soldiers from Hun Sen’s elite personal bodyguard unit clasping AK-47s repeatedly drove past to hammer home the message.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: July 13, 2018

Threats and corruption: Behind the scenes of Cambodia’s election crackdown

Threats and corruption: Behind the scenes of Cambodia’s election crackdown

Cambodia ranks as one of the world’s most corrupt countries – but after an extensive forensic investigation, Al Jazeera found that corruption stretches far beyond the country’s borders, all the way to Australia.

In 2016, the anti-corruption NGO, Global Witness, released a ground-breaking report exposing the widespread business interests of long-standing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his family and their cronies.

WATCH 

Cambodia’s Deadly Politics

Hun Sen’s family was shown to have links to more than 100 companies across all sectors of the economy including tourism, agriculture, mining, electricity and the media as well as affiliations with top international brands.

The family’s combined wealth is estimated to be anywhere from $500m to $1bn.

Kem Ley, a popular Cambodian social commentator and fearless critic of the Hun Sen government’s corruption and nepotism, went on radio calling for a full investigation into the family’s business interests.

Two days later, he was shot in broad daylight in a Phnom Penh cafe.

Human beings are like animal, without law and moral, are worse than animals – Thomas Hobbs

Vibol Kong, Cambodia's director general of taxation [Al Jazeera]

Vibol Kong, Cambodia’s director general of taxation [Al Jazeera]

Thank you very much for sharing this very impressive documentary by Al Jazeera.
Like I have previously emphasized, the code of ethic and professionalism for those high ranking officers are zero. Mr. Kong has come out with  his genuine behaviour of flip flop tactic illustrating at the same level of many other high ranking officers including the PM who has been so outstanding in such political behaviour.
He should know that in democratic countries such as Australia, Canada, USA, France, England etc. all corporate registrations and court verdicts are available for public to review or to research in complying with their law of “transparency” to the public, in which in Cambodia, the liars have become the big brothers and enjoy lucrative wealth while the honest have become desperate and the underprivileged. Those activities have been condoned and impunitive because the court is used as tool for the powerful, not for the honest or the underprivileged.
Right now, Cambodian youths have not been easily bought out in term of peace and security or Cambodia is a post-conflict war which need another 10 years to develop at all because how those youths are expecting when those liars are remained in power and they can be passing such lying tactics to their young breeds to grip future power irresponsibly for decades to come?
– First of all, very risky but invaluable work by Mary Ann Jolley. This is her masterpiece that her love for justice is omnipotent and omnipresent regardless of Cambodians or non-Cambodians.
– Mr. Vibol Kong and many others are good in tricking Cambodians and they have assumed that all other countries are also siding with them in dirty business and lying or what they have employed in their power-business that “money can buy everything”. In Cambodia, they can lie thousand times to extract wealth and power at the expenses of innocent Cambodian people. But in developed countries, the justice system will never condone any wrong-doers. Now, their dirty business and money laundry and other illicit activities will be disclosed, sanctioned, and frozen etc. not caused by anything else but by their thirst for illegitimate power.
Database of all court convictions and procedures are live online for Australia, or Canada as well as other democratic countries. All corporate registrations are free access for the public to review and study those entities.
– Congratulation to Mrs. Kalyan Ky for her strength to stand up and talk to the public on issues that are illicit activities of those immoral elites of Cambodia. Her mission is not done just that, the Australia government must follow suit the laws it must abide by from this public complaint.
– The lady again, Ms. Sin Pov Rozeth, for her bravery to stand up against injustice and showing her genuine patriotism.
– Ann did mention the Paris Peace Agreement at the end, which this accord has enabled Cambodia to this stage while the free riders of this imminent PPA have twisted it to boast their own merits and turn down this very viable backbone for future of Cambodia.
Posted by: | Posted on: May 7, 2018

Dedicating 27 articles today before Phnom Penh Post is absorbed away from its professionalism

 Op-Ed: The Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post Articles

Freedom and the challenges of teen pregnancy in Canada

Email from Canada,

FREEDOM is the lifeblood of human enterprise.  Free-market countries have higher standards of living, social development and productivity levels.  Some, though, contend that freedom is a double-edged sword.

Greater independence from parents and guardians can lead to the creation of a more open, more progressive society in which young people are free to engage their talents and amass practical knowledge.

But some say too much freedom can lead to undisciplined and incompetent adolescents.

In Canada, adolescents enjoy a wide array of freedoms, sexual, romantic and otherwise.  But high teen pregnancy and divorce rates have some policymakers worried.

Still, statistics show that national teen pregnancy rates have been declining.  A study from 1996 to 2006 showed a drop of 37 per cent, compared with a 25 per cent decline in the neighbouring US.

This doesn’t necessarily mean  teenagers are less sexually active.  In fact, a study found about 50      per cent of teens aged 16 and 17 engage in sexual activity.

These findings confirm what has become only too visible in daily life: teens holding hands, hugging, kissing and generally revelling in young love, all in public.

The teen-pregnancy study includes statistics on births, abortions and miscarriages.  The Canadian government views all three outcomes as having a negative impact on society.

If newborns survive the delivery process, teens are often unprepared to act as parents.  And miscarriages and abortions can result in various diseases and complications that can stall the mother’s education and development.

Teen pregnancy affects individuals, families and entire communities, placing a social and economic burden on the whole of society.

According to the study, the welcome decline in teen pregnancy can be attributed to an increase in awareness about sexual health and protection among teenage girls, as well as increasingly easy access to clinics and family planning counsellors.  Young women are using their freedom to make safer decis-ions, entering the adult world of sex and romance armed with more information and more confidence.

The story may be different in Cambodia.  Canada is fairly open to adolescent sexual activity and independent decision-making, but the issue is rarely talked about in Cambodia, where cultural conservatism and embedded tradition keep teenage sexuality under wraps.

For this reason, teen pregnancy rates are higher and show little sign of declining.  Until the Kingdom begins some sort of dialogue on teenage sexuality, young women in Cambodia will continue to have their education interrupted and their freedom curtailed.

About Sophoan Seng
I am the single son of a farming family from Siem Reap. I spent more than 10 years as a Buddhist monk. I graduated with a master’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii and am a PhD candidate at the same university.

My interests are social-capital research, the empowerment of young people for social change, and grassroots participation to developing democracy. I am a freelance and president of the Khmer Youth Association of Alberta. I can be reached at sophan@hawaii.edu

******

Rich Oil-Sands of Alberta, Canada

Emails from Canada: Sophoan Seng

Alberta is well known as a leading exporter of natural resources like timber and oil in Canada. Large foreign companies from the US have invested billions of dollars extracting oil and gas in this territory to make up for the shortage of oil for energy in their country. Oil deposits which are called “oil sands” are very distinctive from what is found in those oil rich countries such as Iran or Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, and the monitoring and regulations of this lucrative industry has never been neglected.

The official website of the Alberta government describes Alberta’s oil sands as the backbone of the Canadian and the global economy, adding it is a great buried energy treasure which has continuously supplied stable and reliable energy to the world. Oil sands are a naturally composed mixture of sand, clay or other minerals, including water and bitumen, which is a heavy and extremely thick, sticky oil that must be treated before it can be processed by refineries to produce usable fuels such as regular gasoline and diesel. Oil sands can be found in many locations around the globe, but the Athabasca deposit in Alberta is the largest and most developed and it has utilised the most advanced technology to produce oil.

Canada’s Facts and Statistics Department has ranked Alberta’s oil sands second after Saudi Arabia in terms of proven global crude oil reserves. In 2009, the total proven oil reserves were 171.3 billion barrels, or about 13 percent of the total global oil reserves, which is about 1,354 billion barrels. The net income in the fiscal year of 2009 for the Alberta government was more than US$3 billion in royalties from oil sands projects, which was lower than 2008 at $20.7 billion. But they project it to skyrocket and revenue to hit $15 billion in the next few years. Ultimately, about 99 percent of Alberta’s oil comes from oil sands.

Responsible corporations and the government’s clear goal and commitment have transformed Alberta oil sands into a blessing, not a curse. All approvals, licences, dispositions, permits and registrations relating to oil sands are required by Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), Alberta Environment and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development bodies. This enables the comprehensive task of handling oil sands investments.

However, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, University of Alberta scientist David Schindler told the public that the high levels of toxic pollutants in the Athabasca River were caused by oil sand mining. Schindler and his team of researchers found that oil sands development projects were contaminating the Athabasca River watershed area. The scientists found that seven “significant pollutants” were at levels that exceeded government guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. This new finding contradicted the government’s previous argument, which had always claimed that the naturally occurring bitumen had low levels of pollution.

After publishing in 2009 the first peer-reviewed paper from Schindler and his team, an ongoing political debate started, the story grabbed the public’s attention and a group of experts was given the job of finding the best solution for this rich oil sands industry. From public and private debates to ones in parliament and political institutions, a solution must be found to ensure the sustainable development of this non-renewable natural resource.

*******

Jobs and Employment in Canada

Letters from abroad

There is a popular saying that “to live is to work”, and while life is not all about work, the saying seems to hold true in Canada, Cambodia and around the world. Most people cannot live without a job, but the approach from the governments in various countries to the problem of unemployment differs greatly. It might be interesting for you to hear about the ways in which Canada’s government and private sector have intervened in order to help more citizens get jobs and keep the ones they have.

First, there is a growing number of job search agencies who help both new and experienced workers find jobs suitable to their educational background and experiences. Enrolled students learn about networking strategies, curriculum vitae, cover letters and interviewing skills. These agencies also partner with private groups and the government to launch job fairs, which exist in Cambodia on a smaller scale, in order to bring together employers and employees. In fact, I was employed as a result of my participation in a job fair.

Second, the government helps unemployed citizens by providing them with short-term support through both skills training and living expenses. Many unemployed workers are directly subsidized to allow them to maintain a level of strength and professionalism while they search for a new job. The money that funds this program, called the Employment Insurance (EI) program, was deducted from workers’ salary if they worked before.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: May 2, 2018

Facebook ‘likely’ to face order to hand over information on Hun Sen

Op-Ed: The Phnom Penh Post

Former deputy opposition leader Mu Sochua said the decision shows “justice always prevails”, and claimed Hun Sen spent thousands of dollars a day on likes.

“How many schools and hospitals can be built” with that money, she asked in a message.

Facebook ‘likely’ to face order to hand over information on Hun Sen

Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy pose for a selfie together during a rare political truce in 2015. Supplied

Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy pose for a selfie together during a rare political truce in 2015. Supplied

A California court intends to order Facebook to disclose information on the origins of Hun Sen’s Facebook “likes” to opposition figure Sam Rainsy, following a San Francisco court hearing on Monday in a case with potential global implications for the social media giant, which is facing allegations that its platform aids authoritarian regimes.

“I’m likely going to give Mr Sam the ability to get some information from Facebook,” Judge Sallie Kim told the courtroom, according to American news outlet Bloomberg.

Rainsy first filed the request for information in February, claiming Hun Sen has “systematically misused” Facebook by buying likes and using the platform to make death threats. He contends that the information will aid his legal defence in Cambodia, where he has been convicted of defamation for accusing the premier of buying Facebook likes. In a statement after the original filing, Rainsy also called on the courts and Facebook to “shed light” on the government’s “manipulation of technology”.

Rainsy requested an array of information, leading Facebook to reject the request in March, characterising it as an overly broad “fishing expedition”.

While Judge Kim agreed that Rainsy’s initial request was too broad, she said she will order Facebook to turn over information that directly relates to his politically tinged convictions.

Facebook has come under fire recently for allegedly allowing authoritarian regimes to use it as a tool to violate human rights. While death threats are banned on the platform, no action was taken when Hun Sen posted a video in February warning that he would attack opposition members with rocket launchers, as Rainsy has pointed out.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen Cambodians have been arrested for posting videos or statements critical of the government.

While the social media behemoth balked at Rainsy’s request, it has often voluntarily supplied information to various governments.

A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rainsy has lived abroad since 2015 to avoid a slew of charges and convictions.

The Post first revealed that a surprising number of the premier’s Facebook fans seemed to be located abroad, with many coming from countries known to harbour so-called click farms, like India and the Philippines.

A hacker recently leaked a screenshot of a purported email from Duong Dara, a member of Hun Sen’s social media team, quoting the cost of buying Facebook likes to the premier.

On Tuesday, Dara said he was “sick and tired” of hearing about Rainsy’s petition for information.

“It is between Sam Rainsy and Facebook,” he said, adding that Rainsy can do “whatever he wants”.

Dara appeared to dismiss the importance of a potential order from the judge to hand over the evidence.

“Cambodia has its own laws,” he said, calling Hun Sen a “great leader” and adding that the premier is focusing on more important matters like economic development and “protecting Cambodia from war”.

On Tuesday, Rainsy referred questions to his legal team, which did not respond to requests for comment. Former deputy opposition leader Mu Sochua said the decision shows “justice always prevails”, and claimed Hun Sen spent thousands of dollars a day on likes.

“How many schools and hospitals can be built” with that money, she asked in a message.

Posted by: | Posted on: April 7, 2018

Can Cambodia’s fractured opposition survive?

Can Cambodia’s fractured opposition survive?

 PHNOM PENH, APRIL 5, 2018 3:48 PM (UTC+8)

In America, where many former CNRP officials now find themselves in exile, members of each clique have shared platforms and speaking engagements.

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have become figure of change against the status-quo of Hun Sen. The perpetual attempts of Hun Sen to divide them both has been in vain that leading to Hun Sen's aggressive paranoia to dissolve this party. The author must comprehend this moment that from what Hun Sen did in dissolving the CNRP, the unity and awareness have become greater and sounder in directing this force to bring back Cambodia's democracy, rule of laws, justice, wealth share fairness, social trust, and sustainable development.

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha have become figure of change against the status-quo of Hun Sen. The perpetual attempts of Hun Sen to divide them both has been in vain that leading to Hun Sen’s aggressive paranoia to dissolve this party. The author must comprehend this moment that from what Hun Sen did in dissolving the CNRP, the unity and awareness have become greater and sounder in directing this force to bring back Cambodia’s democracy, rule of laws, justice, wealth share fairness, social trust, and sustainable development.

“Is the spirit of the CNRP still alive? Of course it’s still alive. The CNRM intends to be a placeholder for when the CNRP is reconstituted,” says Sophal Ear, associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College at Los Angeles.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party – North America (CNRP-NA), composed of chapters from different American states, was formed after the HRP and SRP merged in 2012. It was formerly the SRP-NA.

But, in 2014, a number of members and state chapters, supposedly those loyal to the HRP, broke away to create the CNRP-USA. Today, this group appears to have remained loyal to those who want to remain under the CNRP banner.

But Phan Prak, a representative of the CNRP-USA, says the organization “is not against the CNRM nor have we ever supported it. The CNRP-USA respects an individual to exercise their rights to join any organizations as they wish.”

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While there are attempts by government-aligned media to portray divisions within the opposition as a sign of its feebleness, another interpretation is that internal disputes ought to be welcomed in any pro-democracy party or movement.

Indeed, a positive reading of current events is that voices ignored in the past are now being allowed to air their thoughts and grievances. Some political analysts think this is an opportunity for a younger generation of opposition figures to emerge.

“It is so important for the opposition party to have new blood in its leadership. Leaders in the opposition party should be the mentors for the new blood,” says Noan Sereiboth, a political blogger.

There are some indications that is happening. Kem Sokha’s eldest daughter, Kem Monovithya, 36, has been one of the most active and vocal figures, meeting with US senators last month and Japanese officials last week. She declined to comment for this article.

At the same time, analysts say there is the danger that if infighting continues there will only be one winner: Hun Sen. If fissures go unresolved then it would be the “nail in the coffin of the one formula that seemed to work: the creation of a unified opposition,” says academic Sophal Ear.

Continue to read this article in Asia Times…

Posted by: | Posted on: March 24, 2018

Is this the act of victims are victimized?

Dear Respectful Members,

This thread is to express my deep sorry and frustration that because of what I mentioned about “PM Hun Sen didn’t appear in the group photo because he said he was at the toilet?” that made Louk Pu BA faced removing from the Campro group (link 1, link 2). Whatever reasons his removal is referred to, I think that, this action is just a paralleled “victims are victimized” conduction in Cambodia society.

Eisenhower word Observing from those most fundamental activities to the most essential practises on national stage, they are showing us (the underdogs) the path to its evilization that we should shoulder to deevilize them, if possible. Parents have victimized their children by just their excuse “I am your father/mother”, neighbours have victimized children through their funny bullying behaviours, and state leaders have used laws for their advantage to suppress the victims of land grabs and incompetence of the courts and dissents etc.
With the below attached threads, we might get some more info on what Pu BA is facing. He emailed me privately to anticipate my claims of PM Hun Sen was busy in toilet allowing the eminent leaders of Australia-ASEAN took group photo without him. I think Pu BA is among those Cambodian-Australians who were affected by the outrageous life threatening by PM Hun Sen’s public speech. Some sarcastic words of Pu BA towards PM Hun Sen is not been comparable to what PM Hun Sen has used state’s medium to denounce, to scold, to threat, and to anticipate grip of intimidation towards those dissents against him, at all.
I have always described the “victims are victimized” as a social failure in Cambodia. This activity has run underneath social fabric and caused our future short and FB_IMG_1521561535184unsustainable. Once, the conviction was laid that “While the Western countries believe in giving space and liberty to their citizens to bravely speak up their voice and fully engage in social development in the hope of long term survival of their motherland, Cambodia is in dichotomous effort by the government. This historical and remarkable contrast has happened since Cambodian people protest against the additional border treaty with Vietnam in 2005, many of them were arrested and jailed, once Prime Minister Hun Sen promised to make coffins for those who dare to claim back Khmer Krom lost land for Cambodia, and with many other occasions including banning Alex from his campaign to protect the Cambodia forests, is seen as an attempt to threat those bottom line people activism who are working to protect their lands and forests and to open way or encourage the wrong doers such as land grab activities, deforestation and logging, and forced eviction etc. to continue their wrong deeds without obstacles” (original link).
As some of the members said, in our discussion group, there are variety of speeches, sarcasms, threats(sic), and harsh exchanges etc. but at thHun Sen at Sydney alone alwayse end, this is how the wise have learnt to accept, to tolerate, and to exchange knowledge within a healthy multi-cultural setting. Some regulations and rules are good in producing healthy multi-cultural society, but some are just tools for the controllers to exercise their own biased territory. So let be frank in ourselves and treat things fairly and credibly.
I would like to plea Louk Sophal to explain more reasons to deleting/removing Pu BA from the group. With two warnings will become completely removing is still redundant. This practice has placed all other members at stake and reduced the quality of goals and definition and mission statement set within Campro by all members. Pou BA should be asked for his volunteering stance of view rather than being dictated towards him. And he should be reinstated.
Thank you very much for your kind consideration.
Sophoan