Hun Sen Dares Critics, Within and Without, to Challenge Him

The message, once again, was clear: If you want to fight me, let’s fight.

The silence from the military has spoken for itself, at least for now.

Still the premier’s hubristic style in the face of challenge only masks the unenviable position that has necessitated it. The two most lucrative markets for Cambodia’s limited exports remain under threat unless he quickly changes tack — or if E.U. and U.S. officials back down from their threats in the face of his daring recalcitrance.

Others in his party, on the other hand, may only be biding their time and waiting to see if he does anything to undermine his patient plans for a succession.

There is also a tension in his willingness to risk economic ruin amid diminishing exports at the same time he seeks to place his son at the head of a party long promoted as the home for the country’s businesspeople and those who do not “rock the boat.”

Op-Ed: VOD in English on Hun Sen Dares Critics, Within and Without, to Challenge Him

Prime Minister Hun Sen attended the 20-year anniversary of RCAF on January 24, 2019. (Photo/Courtesy of Facebook PM)

NEWS ANALYSIS

In his gravest moments of weakness, Prime Minister Hun Sen has never shied from daring his challengers to a fight.

From asking rival military forces to return in 1991 to ensuring ruling party rival Chea Sim visited Bangkok in 2004 for “medical care,” Hun Sen has made an art out of cloaking creeping fragility within a haze of dramatic displays of defiant cockiness.

The strategy has repeatedly paid dividends, with the prime minister most notably turning the July 1997 “coup d’etat” into the July 1998 “Miracle on the Mekong” election — as well as mounting protests against his rule in 2013 by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) into 2014’s “culture of dialogue.”

It is an aggression that gets results. Feeling his weight forced onto his back foot, Hun Sen’s response has been the same: If you want to fight me, let’s fight.

So too again now that the European Union and U.S. threaten to revoke Cambodia’s tariff-free access to their large markets — which buy two-thirds of the country’s exports through the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) and Generalized Systems of Privileges (GSP) schemes — if he does not reverse a descent into despotism.

As head of a regime that has long buttressed its legitimacy in economic development, a less experienced leader might be compelled to offer a brief display of contrition and flexibility when faced with the serious threat of economic damage.

For one, the recent fact-finding trip of the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Rhona Smith, to Cambodia for almost two weeks this month may have been seized as an opportunity to display a move back toward democracy.

Not so for Hun Sen, now in his 35th year of power.

On the contrary, in a move seemingly scheduled to coincide with the arrival of a U.N. official, whose opinions will undoubtedly influence decisions made by the E.U. and U.S. over the rest of the year, Hun Sen’s government dug in its heels.

Hence while Smith was winding up her trip to Phnom Penh on May 8 and 9, on the other side of Cambodia the Battambang Provincial Court was busily compelling more than 20 former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) figures to court on claims they were illegally cavorting over cold noodles.

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The injustice of Cambodian justice

Police are underpaid and short-staffed, while Cambodia’s patronage-based bureaucracy means that people tend to be promoted based on alliances, not competency or integrity.

According to the National Police, 2,969 crimes were committed last year, up from 2,817 in 2017. The number stands in contrast to the nation’s bulging prison population, however.

In November, Interior Minister Sar Kheng revealed that there were 31,008 inmates in Cambodia’s 28 prisons, of which almost 72% were being held in pre-trial detention.

That means there are roughly 190 prisoners per every 100,000 people, a bigger proportion than in most other Southeast Asian nations, and higher as a percentage than even authoritarian China.

The prison population has ballooned in recent years after the government launched in 2017 an anti-drug crackdown, similar in tone but not atrocity to the one Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has championed. As a result, the number of inmates rose by 30% in 2017 alone, mostly for drug-related offenses.

CRIME MAY 17, 2019

Op-Ed: Asia Time

The injustice of Cambodian justice

Cambodian police man a barricade outside a prison in Trapaing Phlong in Tbong Khmum province on September 11, 2017. Photo: AFP / Stringer

The injustice of Cambodian justice

The government aims to appear tough on crime, seen in a bulging prison population, but ranked second worst worldwide on a recent rule of law index

ByDAVID HUTT, PHNOM PENH

Ask any Cambodian about the key issues facing their country and chances are that crime will be near the top of the list. But on nearly all counts, the country’s justice system is failing.

According to the National Police, 2,969 crimes were committed last year, up from 2,817 in 2017. The number stands in contrast to the nation’s bulging prison population, however.

In November, Interior Minister Sar Kheng revealed that there were 31,008 inmates in Cambodia’s 28 prisons, of which almost 72% were being held in pre-trial detention.

That means there are roughly 190 prisoners per every 100,000 people, a bigger proportion than in most other Southeast Asian nations, and higher as a percentage than even authoritarian China.

The prison population has ballooned in recent years after the government launched in 2017 an anti-drug crackdown, similar in tone but not atrocity to the one Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has championed. As a result, the number of inmates rose by 30% in 2017 alone, mostly for drug-related offenses.

The problem is bigger than drugs, though. The Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey 2016, carried out by the Ministry of Planning’s National Institute of Statistics, found that 5% of surveyed households were victims of property crimes, such as theft and burglary.

Prisoners held at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison in a file photo. Photo: Facebook

But anecdotal evidence suggests that almost all petty crime goes unreported to the police. A 2014 United National Development Program report on sexual violence even found that the vast majority of women and men rape victims never report the crime.

“People do not trust law implementation and the justice system in Cambodia,” said Noan Sereiboth, a political blogger and frequent contributor to the youth-centered group Politikoffee.

In recent months, the government has tried to be seen as tackling higher-level crimes.

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HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: CHINESE EXPANSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: CHINESE EXPANSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Op-Ed: War on the Rocks

CHARLES EDELMAY 9, 2019 COMMENTARY

Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The prospect of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia offers a case in point.

This issue — seemingly obscure and inconsequential to many observers — made the news in late 2018 when American Vice President Mike Pence raised it in a letter to Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarianleader, Hun Sen. Subsequently, Hun Sen dismissed media reports that China sought a naval base in Cambodia as “fake news.” In repeated denials, he proclaimed that Cambodia’s constitution prohibits any foreign country from setting up military bases within the country’s sovereign territory.

Recent satellite imagery depicting an airport runway in Cambodia’s remote Koh Kong province. Its length is similar to those built on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and it is long enough to support Chinese military reconnaissance, fighter, and bomber aircraft. Source: EO Browser.

Hun Sen promised with Vietnam’s leader not to allow foreign military base in Cambodia soil

And yet, questions remain. Recent commercial satellite imagery shows that Union Development Group, a Chinese-owned construction firm, has been rushing to complete a runway in Cambodia’s remote Koh Kong province on the southwestern coast. It appears long enough to support military aircraft and matches the length of the runways built on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea to support military reconnaissance, fighter and bomber aircraft. Moreover, given the amount of political and economic support Hun Sen has received from Beijing, his independence seems increasingly doubtful.

However, these accusations and denials prevent a meaningful discussion of what the establishment of such a base would mean and what an appropriate response to such an eventuality would look like. They also obscure the question of why Beijing would seek to build a military base in Cambodia.

For Beijing, the strategic dividends of acquiring a military base in southeast Asia are numerous: a more favorable operational environment in the waters ringing southeast Asia, a military perimeter ringing and potentially enclosing mainland southeast Asia, and potentially easier and less restricted access to the Indian Ocean. These benefits are not all of equal value to Chinese strategists, nor does China need any of them immediately. But the logic of Chinese expansion suggests that sooner or later, Beijing will need such a military outpost in southeast Asia, and Hun Sen’s Cambodia presents especially fertile geographic and political soil.

While Hun Sen currently denies that he would allow the rotational presence of the Chinese military or a more permanent Chinese military base on Cambodian territory, strategy often deals in the realm of the possible. Proactively dealing with this challenge requires understanding the Chinese template for developing military bases, thinking through the strategic effects of such a base in Cambodia, and developing options to forestall such a development.

The Chinese Template

Forming a picture of what a Chinese military outpost in Cambodia could look like and how quickly one could become operational is not an act of wild speculation. Chinese efforts elsewhere provide evidence of a simple template. In the South China Sea, in Djibouti, and in other locations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Beijing has followed a similar pattern in which denial precedes further action and helps to veil the full extent of Beijing’s aims.

The Chinese template for construction of new military basing was on full display in the South China Sea, where Beijing pursued the quick buildup and rapid militarization of facilities in the Spratly Islands. Chinese officials denied that plans existed for base construction even as Chinese fisherman and private construction companies began to undertake such efforts. Once base construction was underway, Chinese officials claimed such actions were undertaken for humanitarian purposes and continually promised they would not militarize the South China Sea. Once militarization of these facilities was complete, Beijing again shifted its explanations, noting that the military bases were purely defensive in nature. Finally, the Chinese military began building hangars and infrastructure required to deploy fighter jets and other military aircraft to these islands, just as they installed anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and military jamming equipment.

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Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims

យោងតាមអត្ថបទនេះ ការជួញដូរមនុស្សនិងការលក់ក្មេងស្រីទៅបំរើពេស្យាចារគឺមានស្អេកស្អៈនៅប្រទេសខ្មែរ។ ក្នុងរបាយការណ៌នេះ ក្នុងមួយឆ្នាំអង្គការAIMរំដោះក្មេងបាន១៦០០នាក់ អាយុរវាង៨ទៅ១៨ឆ្នាំ។ មានក្មេងស្រីអាយុ១៤ឆ្នាំត្រូវបានជួយសង្គ្រោះ តែជាអកុសលមុនការសង្គ្រោះ២២ថ្ងៃ ក្មេងស្រីម្នាក់នេះត្រូវបានគេរំលោភផ្លូវភេទដោយមនុស្ស១៨៩នាក់។ ដែលគួរអោយរន្ធត់បំផុតគឺព្រោះតែភាពក្រីក្រ កូនស្រីអាយុ២ឆ្នាំក៏ត្រូវបានម្តាយលក់ទៅអោយមេបនដែរ។ រឿងនេះ ធ្វើអោយយើងនឹកដល់លោករ៉ាត់ រត្នមុនី ដែលគ្រាន់តែថៃបកអោយទូរទស្សន៌រុស្សុីថតរឿងការលក់កូនស្រីធ្វើពេស្យាចារ ត្រូវបានតុលាការដាក់ឃុំឃាំងបន្សល់ទុកអោយភរិយានិងកូនតូចរស់នៅកណ្តោចកណ្តែង។ នេះជាបទរំលោភសិទ្ធិមនុស្សធ្ងន់ធ្ងរដោយតុលាការអសមត្ថភាពមួយនេះ។ រដ្ឋាភិបាលហាក់ដូចជាជំនាញខាងមិនទទួលស្គាល់សេចក្តីពិតដើម្បីដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាពិត ដោយប្រើប្រាស់តុលាការដើម្បីការពារមុខមាត់ខាងក្រៅក្នុងន័យប្រជាភិថុតិប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្លួនឯង។ សូមតុលាការពិចារណាដោះលែងលោករ៉ាត់ រត្នមុនីជាបន្ទាន់ដើម្បីទទួលស្គាល់ការពិតនៃជំងឺសង្គមមួយនេះនិងរួមគ្នាដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាដោយសុទ្ធិចិត្តទាំងអស់គ្នា។

Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims

By hailey on May 1, 2019 in NEWS Op-Ed: Jayne Star

Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims
Cambodian young prostitution outraged 1
Cambodian young prostitution outraged 2

Cambodian young prostitution outraged 3

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At the end of April,Toby Leung (梁靖琪) and a group of successful businesswomen in Hong Kong set off to Cambodia as volunteers to support the Agape International Missions (AIM). The charitable organization hopes to help child sex trafficking victims by creating safe housing and teaching survival skills. Toby hopes to rebuild the girls’ confidence and give them a new chance in life.

Last November, Toby first spoke about her visit to Cambodia to help child sex trafficking victims. Her accounts that girls as young as two years old were sold into prostitution by their own parents shocked many, but also raised awareness in how people can help.

“The plane ride from Hong Kong is only two hours, but it’s a completely different world [in Cambodia]. The rescued girls are all very pure and innocent; a little toy can make them really happy. It is hard to believe that they had experienced such trauma. Due to poverty, some two year-old girls are sold into prostitution, losing their childhood innocence at such a young age,” Toby said.

The 36-year-old actress is a big supporter of AIM because they rescue approximately 1,600 young girls from the ages of 8 to 18 every year. Aside from Toby, many other successful women joined the mission, including a member of the Hong Kong Bar Association, a jewelry brand owner, and an event planner.

Realizing the impact their efforts leave, female volunteers usually return to Cambodia for multiple missions. One of the volunteers recounted a story where a 14-year-old girl was sold, and was eventually rescued. Unfortunately, during the 22 days of waiting for help, 198 people raped her. This story always brings tears to her eyes. Another volunteer shared the story of an 8-year-old survivor who was eventually adopted in the United States and later started her own business as an adult. She now joins these types of missions to help other unfortunate young girls.

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