June, 2012

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Posted by: | Posted on: June 30, 2012

No place like home: Can progress and justice co-exist in Cambodia, a country where development leaves a trail of destruction?


No place like home: Can progress and justice co-exist in Cambodia, a country where development leaves a trail of destruction?

For years, Cambodia’s Boeung Kak Lake has been the centre of a David-and-Goliath battle between its residents and the government. Thousands of residents have been forcibly evicted; their homes destroyed for nominal compensation in the name of developing prime real estate in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Locals have cried foul since authorities awarded a 99-year lease to Shukaku Inc – owned by Senator Lao Meng Khin – in 2007 to develop the area, which is home to some 4,000 families. Over the years, villagers who resisted eviction were harassed by security forces and even thugs, often resulting in violent clashes. Those who accepted relocation found themselves in remote areas lacking basic amenities.

The remaining residents witnessed bulldozers turn their neighbourhood into a construction site, as the once scenic lake was filled to make space for a high-end residential and commercial area.

In August 2011, the World Bank halted funding for Cambodia in reaction to the conflict. Under pressure, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered 12.44 hectares of Boeung Kak to be allocated to the remaining families, who were to receive land titles. By then, fewer than 800 families were left.

But there is a sting in the tail – 94 families among them are ineligible for the titles due to the unclear borders of the segmented area. To muddy the waters, Senator Lao’s name appears more than 20 times in a list of title applicants.

The community says corrupt officials are trying to make money from land allocated to them. It remains united to fight for those who have been excluded from the list.

101 East reporter Chan Tau Chou covered the issue in 2008 when the lake housed a bustling community. He returns to see the remaining people of Boeung Kak face their stiffest challenge yet – to keep their homes as authorities crack down even more violently on protests.

In a country where the trail of development leaves behind a trail of destruction, Boeung Kak turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Can development and justice co-exist in Cambodia?


Posted by: | Posted on: June 23, 2012

The real pain of a King is the pain of his subjects – Jayavarman VII

“ទេហនាន្ទេហ រោគោ យ​​ន្មនោរោគោ រុជត្តរាម៑​ ​ រាឞ្ត្រទុះខំហិភត៌្ឫុណា​ ​ន្ទុះខន្ទុះខន្ទុនាត្មនះ “

៚សេចក្តីឈឺចុកចាប់នៅក្នុងខ្លួនប្រាណរបស់អ្នកជំងឺ គឺជាសេចក្តីឈឺចាប់ក្នុងហប្ញទ័យរបស់ព្រះអង្គជាងនោះទ្វេដង។ សំរាប់សេចក្តីឈឺចុកចាប់ផ្ទាល់ពិតប្រាកដរបស់មេដឹកនាំ[ព្រះមហាក្សត្រ] គឺសេចក្តីទុករបស់ប្រជានុរាស្រ្ត មិនមែនជាសេចក្តីទុក្ខផ្ទាល់របស់ព្រះអង្គឡើយ។៚
“dehinām deha rogo yanmanorogo rujattarām
rāṣṭra duḥkham hi bharṛrnān duḥkhan duḥkhan tu Nātmanaḥ”

“the bodily pain of the diseased became in Him (the King) a mental agony more tormenting than the former. For the real pain of a King is the pain of his subjects, not that his own (body)”
Note: this is courtesy of Heng Moneychenda, Prof. Vong Sotheara, and Tourch Bora from CAN Cambodia!
Posted by: | Posted on: June 21, 2012

Cambodia’s Orphan Business

People & Power goes undercover to reveal how ‘voluntourism’ could be fuelling the exploitation of Cambodian children.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, Cambodia was ravaged by civil war. Since its return to peace there has been a boom in tourism with over two million visitors every year. Keen to help this war-torn country, increasing numbers of tourists are now also working as volunteers. Most come with the very best of intentions – to work in schools and orphanages, filling a gap left by a lack of development funding.

But, inadvertently, well-intentioned volunteers have helped to create a surge in the number of residential care homes as impoverished parents are tempted into giving up their children in response to promises of a Western-style upbringing and education. Despite a period of prosperity in the country, the number of children in orphanages has more than doubled in the past decade, and over 70 per cent of the estimated 10,000 ‘orphans’ have at least one living parent.

And perhaps most disturbingly, stories have emerged that Cambodian children are being exploited by some of the companies organising the volunteers or running the orphanages.

Read More …

Posted by: | Posted on: June 15, 2012

CAMBODIA: Democrats must become a credible alternative to stop Hun Sen and the CPP

This culture maintains law and order and protects rulers (Sdech phaen dei, or King of the Earth) and their thrones. Despite the arrival of Buddhism, a belief system that preaches individual salvation, Khmers primary devotion was to the god kings. In such circumstances, the “good” karma of Buddhism is perverted to become not an active choice but a passive compliance with the old to avoid “bad” karma.
This culture imbued in Khmer mentality the concepts of king-subjects and lord-slaves, and built the Khmer society on class, rank, role relationships based on the superior-inferior, master-servant, patron-client, leader-follower precepts, as known today. Any regime in power — monarchical, republican, communist, authoritarian – benefits from this culture and mentality. Education is the remedy.
June 15, 2012
An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

CAMBODIA: Democrats must become a credible alternative to stop Hun Sen and the CPP
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s victories in local elections were pre-ordained.
Hun Sen rode to power under the guns of some 200,000 Vietnamese troops who crossed the border with Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1978, captured Phnom Penh in January 1979, and stayed in Cambodia as occupiers until 1989. They installed Hun Sen as premier in 1985.
A former Khmer Rouge defector to Vietnam, Hun Sen lost the 1993-United Nations organized elections, and used threats to win the post of second-premier. In 1997, he launched a coup d’etat against the first-premier. For 27 years, since 1985, premier Hun Sen has controlled Cambodia’s administrative apparatus, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. He has become a dictator.
Cambodians, like many other people, say they hate politics. Yet, politics has been practiced since human beings began living and working together. People organized and made decisions that would affect the collectivity. In the words of a professor of politics: “Between the cradle and the grave, we live our lives in the midst of politics.” It is “part and parcel of nearly all human interactions.” Politics exists everywhere.
The “pagoda boy,” as he called himself — in reference to his childhood — learned fast. Now 59, he says he wants to stay in power for life. He promises an open investment environment to the world’s thirsty investors – 99 years leases on land concessions and availability of natural resources — backed by political stability. He plays well on the world’s appetite for democracy and elections. He allows just enough free expression as he carefully controls media outlets and public demonstrations sufficient to air some grievances. He’s quick to tell potential transgressors he will “close the door and beat the dogs.” He encourages elections, but ensures his opponents don’t win. He and his party intimidate and bribe hungry citizens for votes.
Read More …