‘Hun Sen is taking the piss’: Labor MP unloads on Cambodian dictator

Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise. Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseasand undermined prosperity in our region.

ប្រទេសអូស្ត្រាលីនិងពិភពលោកបានសន្យាជាមួយប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរអោយក្រោកឈរឡើងដើម្បីការពារសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស សន្តិភាព និងប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ។ តែ២៨ឆ្នាំមកនេះ ពិភពលោកបរាជ័យក្នុងការរក្សាកិច្ចសន្យារបស់ខ្លួន។ ជាការជំនួសវិញ របបលោកហ៊ុន-សែន បានវាយប្រហារទៅលើសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស សំលាប់លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ បោះបង់ចោលអធិបតេយ្យភាពដែនដីរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ សន្សំទ្រព្យរាប់កោដិទុកនៅក្រៅប្រទេស និងបំផ្លិចបំផ្លាញសុខដុមរមនាក្នុងតំបន់។

‘Hun Sen is taking the piss’: Labor MP unloads on Cambodian dictator

James Massola
WAtoday, By James Massola, October 22, 2019 — 4.30pm

Jakarta: Federal Labor MP Julian Hill has launched an extraordinary attack on Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, declaring the dictator has sold out his country to China and warning the rising superpower is using the same tactics it used to militarise the South China Sea.

Mr Hill, whose seat of Bruce is home to one of the largest Cambodian-Australian populations, said that on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended Cambodia’s long and bloody civil war, democracy was dying.

Chinese investment brings violence and drugs to once sleepy backpacking town in Cambodia

Billions of dollars of Chinese investment have transformed the town of Sihanoukville in CambodiaThirty-nine found dead in truck in Essex, UK

The MP recently spent a week in Cambodia on a self-funded study tour where he met with civil rights groups, union activists and the remnants of the now-banned political opposition.

“Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise,” he told Parliament.

“Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseasand undermined prosperity in our region.”

In a speech that goes much further than the Labor leadership has been willing to in criticising the links between China and Cambodia, Mr Hill said “I don’t mean this as anti-China rhetoric … must be honest and say that I do not see what Hun Sen has let China do in Cambodia as positive”.

A woman is tended to after she was assaulted in a casino carpark in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
A woman is tended to after she was assaulted in a casino carpark in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.CREDIT:JAMES MASSOLA

“It [Chinese investment] may be couched as BRI [Belt and Road Infrastructure investment], but it shows all the signs of Hun Sen allowing the development of naval and air facilities to facilitate Chinese military planning. The same salami slicing tactics that the world saw in the South China Sea are at work.”

Sihanoukville, which has seen a huge amount of Chinese investment, is “like the fantasies about the Wild West of old. Casinos. Booze. Guns. Riches. Women”.

Sihanoukville is the worst place I have ever been.”

CAMBODIA

China’s takeover of Sihanoukville is almost complete, despite base row

Hun Sen won all 125 seats in the parliament in elections in July 2018 and has banned the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party. Former leader Kem Sokha is under house arrest in Phnom Penh, other leaders including Sam Rainsy and Mu Sochua are in exile while many activists and politicians have been jailed.

Rainsy has recently threatened to return to Cambodia on November 9 to lead a popular uprising, prompting threats of violence and military intervention from Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 34 years.

Against this back drop, Hill said Australia’s current approach to “just keep talking” to the Hun Sen regime was insufficient.

Hill said Australia should ramp up sanctions against Cambodia, get back into the “information game” through Radio Australia and short wave radio and push back by using our considerable soft power resources.

Continue reading “‘Hun Sen is taking the piss’: Labor MP unloads on Cambodian dictator”
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Cambodia hires Brownstein Hyatt

កុងត្រាជាមួយមន្ត្រីព្រឹទ្ធសភាជាន់ទាបថ្នាក់ឃុំសង្កាត់រដ្ឋវ៉ាសុឺនតោនក្នុងទឹកប្រាក់៥សែនដុល្លាក្នុងមួយខែ ឥឡូវជាមួយក្រុមហ៊ុន Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck ក្នុងទឹកប្រាក់៦សែនដុល្លាក្នុងមួយខែទៀត ដើម្បីជួយឡបប៊ីសហរដ្ឋអមេរិកនូវអ្វីដែលយើងអាចយល់ថាជាការសំរួលអោយសហរដ្ឋអាមេរិកយោគយល់រដ្ឋបាលឯកបក្សរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែន។ ក្រោមការដឹកនាំបែបអត្តចរិកពុករលួយ(corrupt mindset) ទោះនាឡិការដៃតំលៃជាង៣លានដុល្លាអាមេរិកក៏ហ៊ានពាក់បង្ហាញជាសាធារណៈដែរ ចុះទំរាំលុយជាតិជាច្រើនយកមកប្រើទិញនិងជួលដើម្បីរក្សាអំណាចផ្ទាល់ខ្លួននោះ មិនមានអ្វីចំលែកទេសម្រាប់មនុស្សវង្វេងផ្លូវលុសក្នុងអំណាចយោងតាមទ្រឹស្តីព្រះពុទ្ធជាម្ចាស់៖ អវិជ្ជា បច្ចយា សង្ខារា នោះ។ តែអ្វីដែលគួរអោយអនិច្ចានោះគឺមានបណ្ឌិតមួយចំនួនហៃអើដើរតាមដានជើងមនុស្សវង្វេងផ្លូវនោះថែមទៀត ដោយមិនគិតគូរដល់អនាគតកូនចៅខ្លួនឯងក៏ដូចជាយុវជនខ្មែរជំនាន់ក្រោយៗទៀតសោះឡើយ។

Cambodia hires Brownstein Hyatt

Op-Ed: Politico, By THEODORIC MEYER (tmeyer@politico.com

04/19/2019 01:52 PM EDT,With Daniel Lippman

BROWNSTEIN HYATT WILL LOBBY FOR CAMBODIA: The government of Cambodia has hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to lobby on its behalf in Washington. “We’re going to be helping to forge and renew their relationship with the U.S. government,” Marc Lampkin, the managing partner of the firm’s Washington office, told PI in an interview. Al MotturDouglas MaguireAri ZimmermanDavid Cohen and Brian McKeon will lobby for the country as well, according to Justice Department filings. The contract is worth $60,000 a month and lasts nearly a year.

— Cambodia has shelled out to bolster its representation in the U.S. over the past month. As PI reported earlier this month, the Cambodian government hired Doug Ericksen, a sitting Washington state senator, and Jay Rodne, a former state representative, to lobby on its behalf through their company, PacRim Bridges LLC. The contract is worth $500,000 a year. Ericksen praised the country’s widely criticized elections last year, calling them “amazingly transparent” and “incredibly well conducted.” Ericksen didn’t respond to PI’s request for comment, but he defended the arrangement in an interview with The Seattle Times. “We could have tried to skirt the rules and not file under FARA,” he said. “We are doing everything out in public. I am just trying to make my way in this world.’”

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Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia

OP-ED: CODASTORY, AUTHORITARIAN TECH

“The slow eradication of the fourth estate by Hun Sen has left a cabal of state-owned, state-run and state-influenced media outlets. Fresh News is a symptom of that environment. ដំណើរកំចាត់យ៉ាងយឺតៗនៃអំណាចទី៤ដោយលោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានរុញច្រានស្ងាត់ៗនូវបណ្តុំពត៌មានអោយទៅជាកម្មសិទ្ធិរបស់រដ្ឋ ចាត់ចែងដោយរដ្ឋ និងរដ្ឋមានឥទ្ធិពលពីលើ។ ហ្វ្រេសនូសគឺជារោគសញ្ញាផុសឡើងក្នុងបរិដ្ឋាននោះ”

Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia

In the Cambodian government’s ongoing war on the media, a website called Fresh News has become one of the country’s most useful sources of political misinformation and propaganda

When leading Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested shortly after midnight in September 2017, most media outlets were taken by surprise. Only Fresh News, a digital news provider with close ties to the government, was on hand to livestream the chaotic scenes which saw Sokha arrested at his home in an operation involving 100 armed police officers.

The arrest marked the culmination of a months-long smear campaign by Fresh News against Sokha, president of the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Fresh News had linked Sokha to an American-backed conspiracy to overthrow prime minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party, which has led the country for more than three decades.

After Sokha was arrested, Fresh News continued its critical coverage with articles like “Why was Kem Sokha arrested? Listen to his confession of treason!” The story contained a link to a 2013 video of Sokha thanking the US for political support and detailing strategies for democratic change. The government claimed Sokha’s comments qualified as a “red-handed” crime, allowing Sokha to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

The rise to prominence of Fresh News as a key player in Cambodia’s authoritarian landscape has arrived amidst an unprecedented crackdown on free press and civil society which has reduced the country’s once-robust media to rubble. The fiercely critical Cambodia Daily was shut down in 2017 over a disputed tax bill, publishing its final edition the day of Sokha’s arrest.

Then, last year, Cambodia’s oldest independent newspaper—the Phnom Penh Post—was bought by new owners with close ties to the government, who have enforced strict censorship guidelines. A slew of independent radio stations have also been shuttered, silencing crucial voices and forcing Radio Free Asia to abandon its operations in the country.

The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters.

Throughout the crackdown on traditional media, the digital-first Fresh News has become one of Hun Sen’s most useful instruments with an outsized influence over political misinformation and propaganda. Launched in 2014 with 20 journalists and described as a “bludgeon” by then-independent newspaper the Phnom Penh Post, Fresh News is now the country’s third most visited local site and has led the war against critics of the Cambodian government by spreading unfounded conspiracy theories, leaking private phone calls between opposition politicians, and even helping to give shape to anti-democratic policies.

The media organization, which now employs 200 people across its online, television, radio, Facebook and YouTube platforms, is regularly granted exclusive interviews with high-ranking government officials, including Hun Sen, who almost never give interviews to other outlets. In Khmer, English, and Chinese, Fresh News has become the state’s third arm in an ongoing campaign of media repression.

The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters. “Fresh News now is not only being watched in the country but also abroad, and we also have a quick information system that is no worse than AFP, UPI, AP or Reuters,” he said in a speech in September 2017, days after Sokha’s arrest.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told the Phnom Penh Post that Fresh News is “a space for the government to share the news”, and said that the platform receives its information directly from government sources.

The success of Fresh News can also be viewed in the light of criticism of investigative journalism in a number of other countries across the world. Just as President Donald Trump has described CNN as “fake news” while giving access to broadcasters like Fox News, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called news website Rappler Inc. a “fake news outlet”, Hun Sen has asked local and international journalists to tackle “fake news” under the pretext of preserving national security. “Even the countries that claim to respect freedom of speech are concerned about cybercrimes,” he said recently. “Some countries which are regarded as [fathers of democracy] have laws to prevent and punish fake news [perpetrators].”

Exclusives and Leaks

Pro-government since its launch, Fresh News took on a more active role in the summer of 2017, seemingly anticipating or even precipitating the government’s shift towards authoritarianism. Prior to Sokha’s arrest, the government shut down the National Democratic Institute, a US-funded pro-democracy organization that Fresh News claimed was also part of the plot to initiate a “color revolution” to topple the government like those in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring. NDI was closed and its three foreign staff expelled, a decision that the government justified with materials leaked to Fresh News.

In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.

The documents originated from a meeting between NDI and the CNRP during which the groups discussed election campaign strategies. In its defense, NDI claimed they held similar training sessions with multiple parties, including Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Further evidence of Fresh News’s close ties with the government emerged when the platform released photographs of all three foreign NDI staff, taken during their exit from Cambodia at Phnom Penh International Airport. USAID released a statement condemning the “deeply disappointing” decision, while a number of US Senators, including John McCain, also denounced the move.

The document leak was part of a pattern. In contrast to other Cambodian media, Fresh News benefits from exclusive and regular access to government documents, including court summonses and arrest warrants which are made available to the public on the platform. In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.

Continue reading “Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia”
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Cambodia has slip to the bottom of world justice index

គំរោងយុត្តិធម៌ពិភពលោកបានរកឃើញចំណាត់ថ្នាក់យុត្តិធម៌និងនីតិរដ្ឋរបស់កម្ពុជាធ្លាក់ចុះខ្លាំងឆ្នាំ២០១៨គឺ១១២ក្នុងចំណោមប្រទេសទាំង១១៣។ ប្រទេសវេណេស៊ូអេឡាធ្លាក់ទាបបំផុតគឺ១១៣នៅពេលដែលកម្ពុជាបានត្រឹមវាយលុកយកឯកទកម្មទីពីរទាបបំផុតបន្ទាប់ពីប្រទេសវេណេស៊ូអេឡា។ ក្នុងចំណោមសុចនាករទាំងនោះ យុត្តិធម៌សុីវិល(civil justice)គឺមានកំរិតទាបបំផុត។

Cambodia

Op-Ed and Original Source for Reference: Key Page, PDF File, Interactive Page

Region: East Asia & Pacific
Income Group: Lower Middle

Overall ScoreRegional RankIncome RankGlobal Rank
0.3215/1530/30112/113
Score ChangeRank Change
0.00
Factor TrendFactor ScoreRegional RankIncome RankGlobal Rank
Constraints on 
Government Powers
0.3215/1530/30110/113
Absence of Corruption0.2515/1530/30113/113
Open Government0.2315/1530/30113/113
Fundamental Rights0.3813/1527/30104/113
Order and Security0.6614/1518/3081/113
Regulatory Enforcement0.2715/1530/30112/113
Civil Justice0.2015/1530/30113/113
Criminal Justice0.2715/1528/30110/113
Trending upTrending downCountryLowCountryMediumCountryHigh
Country2017-2018 ScoreCountry2016 Score
CountryCambodiaCountryEast Asia & PacificCountryLower Middle
Constraints on Government
Powers
1.1Limits by legislature0.41
1.2Limits by judiciary0.25
1.3Independent auditing0.23
1.4Sanctions for official misconduct0.30
1.5Non-governmental checks0.33
1.6Lawful transition of power0.39
Absence of Corruption
2.1In the executive branch0.28
2.2In the judiciary0.15
2.3In the police/military0.25
2.4In the legislature0.31
Open Government
3.1Publicized laws & gov’t data0.20
3.2Right to information0.20
3.3Civic participation0.35
3.4Complaint mechanisms0.17
Fundamental Rights
4.1No discrimination0.39
4.2Right to life & security0.33
4.3Due process of law0.29
4.4Freedom of expression0.33
4.5Freedom of religion0.51
4.6Right to privacy0.29
4.7Freedom of association0.45
4.8Labor rights0.44
Order and Security
5.1Absence of crime0.81
5.2Absence of civil conflict1.00
5.3Absence of violent redress0.17
Regulatory
Enforcement
6.1Effective regulatory enforcement0.25
6.2No improper influence0.21
6.3No unreasonable delay0.47
6.4Respect for due process0.15
6.5No expropriation w/out adequate compensation0.26
Civil Justice
7.1Accessibility & affordability0.30
7.2No discrimination0.22
7.3No corruption0.11
7.4No improper gov’t influence0.17
7.5No unreasonable delay0.17
7.6Effective enforcement0.07
7.7Impartial & effective ADRs0.35
Criminal Justice
8.1Effective investigations0.35
8.2Timely & effective adjudication0.38
8.3Effective correctional system0.24
8.4No discrimination0.24
8.5No corruption0.18
8.6No improper gov’t influence0.20
8.7Due process of law0.29
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