- Hun Sen’s asset declaration is a political stunt
- "Kuor Che Sme Reu Che Samdach" a Poem in Khmer by NhiekKiri
- "មេភរ! (Liar)" a Poem in Khmer by Sék Serei
- Hun Sen's ACU - Khmer Poem by Khlem Chan
- In Cambodia, Women Fear Death at Childbirth
- Khmer Voices Rising: Cambodian Freedom Writer Tararith Kho
- Op-Ed by Ven. Hok Savann
- PINPEAT without Pin (harp) and Khser Deav - Musical instruments at Angkor
- Long Beach Cambodian New Year Parade returns Saturday
- Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Cleanst Prime Minister
- Cambodia’s NGO law targets ‘unwanted opposition’
- "Sall Muoy Damnak Tiet" a Poem in Khmer by Hin Sithan
- "Kuor Choeur Dae Té? គួរជឿដែរទេ?" a Poem in Khmer by NhiekKiri
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 03:55 PM PDT
Op-Ed by Khmerization
2nd April, 2011
Prime Minister Hun Sen's asset declaration is nothing, but a political and publicity stunt designed to fool the Cambodian public and the world community for his own political gains and diplomatic consumption. He has as again pulled a publicity stunt, but his political theatre will not sway public opinion and perception about his huge wealth and his unusually-rich family.
It is an undeniable fact that Mr. Hun Sen earns about $1,450 a month from his salary as the Prime Minister of Cambodia. But there is a huge imbalance between the size of his salary and his current wealth and his ridiculous claims of being starving to death without the financial supports from his children is nauseating, a total lie to the core and cannot convince even the most gullible people. "But I will get (financial) supports from my children. They will not let me starve to death", he said.
To understand whether Mr. Hun Sen is telling the truth or not, let's examine and compare his meager salary with his huge wealth: Mr. Hun Sen claimed to have no other incomes beside his monthly salary of $1,450. With this kind of salary without other secretive incomes, Mr. Hun Sen would not be able to afford his luxury lifestyle that he is enjoying today, let alone feeding his entire extended family of at least three generations, from his children down to his grandchildren. On top of this, he is known to have employed many maids and housekeepers. He is known to have owned many luxury properties and multi-million dollars mansions, notably his mansions near the Independent Monument and his Tuol Krosaing Compound in Takhmao town. There were reports that he gave his mistress Pisit Pilika, who was reportedly ordered killed by his wife Lady Bun Rany in 1999, of the sum of $300,000 in cash, one house and one SUV four-wheel drive. So where did the money come from?
He is also known to have real estate interests throughout the country. He is rumoured to have interests and big shares in Canadia Bank, which owned many development sites throughout the country, including Koh Pich Island Development, Prek Leap Satellite City, Bayon Radio and TV as well as 7NG company which was involved in the forced and inhuman evictions of people from the Dey Krohorm community.
On top of this, Cambodian businessmen from overseas have complained that they have to give free company shares and need to pay 5-10% of their profits to Mr. Hun Sen, but boasted to have received immunity from prosecutions and hassles from corrupt officials if their companies bear Mr. Hun Sen's name as a shareholder.
He has told a reporter more than 10 years ago that some people said he is the world's 7th richest man. When asked if it is true that he is the world's 7th richest man, he eluded the question and did not give a specific answer to the allegation.
With the above claims and evidences, it is hard to imagine that Mr. Hun Sen has lived on his meager monthly salary of $1,450. And it is even incredulous to believe his claims that he is living on the financial supports from his children. To make his claim credible and believable, Mr. Hun Sen needs to reveal where his children get the money from to feed him. Sensible and informed people would not buy this story because they know for sure that instead of his children supporting him financially, it is the other way around. After all, it is him who is the source of their immense business power and political backbone that make them instant millionaires, or even billionaires that they are today.
Back to Mr. Hun Sen's asset declaration. The asset declaration is a secretive process, not an open and transparent one and only done in the present of his cronies, the like of Om Yintieng, with a sealed envelope. With asset declaration shrouded in secrecy like this, the process is ripe with corruption and connivance and is only designed to pacify critics and to appease NGOs and Cambodia's financial backers, especially the donor countries. No one knows how much assets Mr. Hun Sen owned now and no one will know how much assets he owned when he leaves office. At the end of the day, it is a futile exercise and a useless process that is only designed to appease donor countries, to protect corrupt people and possibly punish clean and honest officials, especially officials from outside of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, but particularly, from the opposition parties.
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 01:51 PM PDT
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 09:00 AM PDT
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 05:54 AM PDT
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 12:52 AM PDT
By Marwaan Macan-Markar
KRAING KAOK, Cambodia, Apr 2, 2011 (IPS) - Death haunts women in this Cambodian village at a moment of happiness - when they give birth.
"Today, nothing frightens Cambodian women more than having to give birth," says Mu Sochuea, former minister of women's affairs. "It is costly, risky and not safe for the mothers and the babies."
Cambodia has acquired the notoriety of having among the highest maternal mortality rates in the region. Five women die every day during childbirth, according to U.N. reports.
Public health experts attribute the high death toll to lack of sufficient midwives, limited health care centres, the cost of health services, and a bias in remote rural areas towards untrained traditional birth attendants.
Hak Sam Ath still fights back tears as she recalls how Ouch Lay, her eldest daughter, died at a health clinic that serves this fishing and trading community on the banks of the Stung Slot River. "She had high blood pressure at the time she had checked into the health clinic for her delivery," said Sam Ath. "But this was overlooked and she died on the night she was to give birth."
The death of mothers like 28-year-old Lay, over one year ago in this village some 60 kilometres southeast of Phnom Penh, confirms why a common saying in the local Khmer language about the dangers of childbirth still resonates in this country of some 14 million people. "The expression 'crossing the river' is used in Khmer to describe the moment when a woman is to give birth," says Sochuea, now an opposition parliamentarian. "It illustrates the risk and the danger of crossing a river, a totally uncertain experience, which is how childbirth is viewed by many here."
The country's maternal mortality rates reflect this fear. There are 461 maternal mortality cases per 100,000 living births here, which is "among the highest in the region and which has not changed much since 1997," noted a report released Mar. 28 on the country's progress towards achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - a set of global targets to reduce poverty, ensure basic education, achieve gender equity, and overcome major health challenges.
Such frequent maternal mortality has condemned Cambodia to fall well short of meeting the fifth of eight MDGs by 2015, which specifically calls on countries to improve maternal health by reducing maternal mortality ratios. Cambodia is also trailing to meet the first MDG: slashing the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger.
"It is highly unlikely that the original [Cambodian MDG] target of 140 deaths per 100,000 live births can be reached," revealed the 'Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDG) Update 2010', the report that was jointly produced by the government and U.N. agencies. "The target for 2015 has therefore recently been adjusted to a more realistic level of 250, which still represents a major challenge."
To meet such a challenge in a country still struggling to rise to its feet after the 1991 peace accords - which ended two decades of deadly conflict, genocide and occupation - the U.N. has courted a prominent ally: Bun Ray Hun Sen, the wife of Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen. The former nurse was recognised in late February as the national champion for U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon's Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health.
"We are tackling the maternal mortality issue at an extremely high level," Douglas Broderick, the U.N. resident coordinator here, told IPS. "We will be working with the first lady to raise the profile of the maternal mortality challenge in the country."
Limited numbers of midwives and skilled birth attendants in the hospitals and health centres has contributed to maternal mortality, with the rural rice- growing areas - home to nearly 85 percent of the population - being the worst hit. Nearly 40 percent of births in Cambodia are "unattended by skilled birth attendants, who could save women's lives in case of emergencies," according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"Maternal mortality in rural areas is three times higher than in the urban areas," says Chea Thy, the national health advisor at the Cambodia office of Plan International, a British child rights agency. "Some health centres don't have qualified midwives."
Midwives are paid approximately 10 dollars for assisting in a birth and the profession is struggling to attract larger and committed numbers to meet the health ministry's national health plans. The government has set its sights on opening 1,600 health centres across the country, with each having up to two midwives. This would mark a sizeable increase from the less than 1,000 health centres that currently dot Cambodia.
The high cost of health services in a country where over a third of the population live in poverty is also fingered as an explanation of why maternal care is so poor.
"The average payment for a four to six day stay at a hospital is 130,000 riels (about 27 dollars)," Henk Bekedam, director of health sector development at the WHO's regional office, told IPS. "That includes mothers going for delivery, a patient who has broken a leg, or somebody hospitalised for diarrhoea."
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 12:49 AM PDT
Contributed by: Wei Lai
"If letters disappear, the nation will disappear. If letters are brilliant, the nation is brilliant. The level to which a government clamps down on writers is a barometer of a nation's freedom." – Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Vice President of International PEN (An advocacy group for the rights and freedoms of writers).
How, then does the wind blow in Cambodia? Here is the forecast from Tararith Kho, an International Writers Project Fellow at Brown University.
(The following is a paraphrased account based on my notes from a live translation by praCH)
"I come from a country where the government blocks foreign news sites and teachers instill fear on their pupils. When the group KI, an independent media group was founded, its writers were banned from Cambodia or banished to jail. Here are a few of their faces:"
Kho picks up a stack of papers from the table, and shows the faces of Cambodian writers who have gone missing. He solemnly reads their names and the room is silent.
"And where does the change come from? Outside NGOs can only do so much, sure they aim to alleviate poverty and improve social infrastructure. Phnom Penh is filled with foreigners, and we are grateful for their work, but they are foreign. Cambodians working on behalf of free speech and sharing their nation's true history are squelched.
Moreover, it is very difficult to set up an NGO, as you have to befriend the right people. But who are the right people? Cambodia is filled with spies. It only takes the government 2 hours to find and arrest someone living in Phnom Penh. Our prime minister has 500 bodyguards and countless armies in the city and in the jungle.
These are armies that willfully attack not only the journalists or writers, but their families too. If you write about the true history of the Killing Fields, you face real death threats. But still I keep writing, I feel it is the right thing to do."
prACH, #1 hip-hop emcee in Cambodia, with a political rhyme flow similar to that of Immortal Technique pauses the translation, and commends Kho, "This is my hero of the day right here."
Kho produces a humble smile and continues,
"The corruption is real and the threats are real. In 2008 I accepted the PEN award with mixed emotions. When I return to Cambodia this May, I will be uncertain about my fate."
Words from an afternoon panel shared with Vietnamese Writers:
"The Vietnam War brought truly bad things, the Khmer Rogue destroyed our history by burning national documents. We wanted to remain neutral but were pulled into war. There were not many written pieces on the war from the generation that lived through it. We lacked the choice to express our ideas and were choked by a growing influence from China and Vietnam. A reason why censorship is so powerful today is because Cambodia does not want to offend the Chinese giant. Look at a map from the war era, the whole Southeast Asia area was referred to as 'Indo-China.
(Author's aside. The false geographical term 'Indo-China' (as opposed to Southeast Asia) was pivotal in supporting Kissinger's Domino Theory, its exaggerated claims lead the US into a sweeping war against Communism, at the expense of countless lives of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.)
"My father was an American soldier who died before I could meet him. Growing up I listened to lots of Thai radio, heard their ideas and questioned our lack of freedom. I grew up in the countryside, in a very poor and remote province. I began writing as a teenager and realized that all prominent writers used pseudonyms to mask their true identity. Government screening meant that it took 3 years before any books or papers were published, even if they were apolitical. We were robbed of any current opinions aside from that of the Khmer Rogue. During the 1980's I wanted to pursue an education and move out of my province but at this time we needed a government stamp to move from one town to the next. I wasn't able to leave the countryside for quite some time.
As I later progressed as a writer in the 1990s and 2000s I took upon controversial subjects, as these were what had the most meaning for me. I wrote facts and feelings about forced evictions, land grabs and injustice. No one should say what you can/can't do or to force you to do this/that. This is when the death threats came as phone calls, anonymous emails and website comments. But this did not stop me.
I was merely an artist exposing corruption; the law was not obeyed by those who made the laws. Cambodia is not the worst country for freedom on speech, but there are huge lurking threats. We could not have a gathering (5 writers on a literary panel with 20-30 audience members) like this today without going through the government ministry of culture's 'radar'.
I don't hate the government; I'm just exposing the flaws in the system. In my poetry I write about how the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer—this is reality why do we hide from it? Yet, in Cambodian society, even oral accusations against the government in day-to-day conversations are illegal. All I ask for is the freedom to write, I have no aspirations of wealth, the facts and personal opinions of Cambodians need to be shared."
Posted: 02 Apr 2011 12:40 AM PDT
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 11:46 PM PDT
Still on the Khmer music front.
Interestingly, we khmer call it phleng pinpeat (Pinpeat music), although Pin, once a lead instrument, has been absent from the Pinpeat ensemble (vong pinpeat) since 1500s. The modern ensemble of Pinpeat composes of five parts: Roneat (xylophone), Kongvong (circle of gongs), Sralai (quadruple-reed oboe), Sampho (small barrel drum), and skor thom (large barrel frum).
Ven. Chuon Nath's (Dictionary of Khmer 1967) was mistaken to say that Chapey was the Pin. Chapey is not Pin because Pin is a harp and Chapey is a lute. And Chapey is not a part of vong pinpeat.
Attached are relevant photos of modern pinpeat and old pin peat or pina vadya from:
Musical Instruments on the Reliefs at Angkor (2006)
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 11:07 PM PDT
MacArthur Park celebration follows march down Anaheim.
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram (California, USA)
LONG BEACH — The seventh annual Cambodian New Year Parade, celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, hops off the curb Saturday at the corner of Junipero Avenue and Anaheim Street.
The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the traditional blessing of the event by Buddhist monks. The actual parade is slated to take off at 10 a.m. in front of the UCC Plaza.
There had been talk of shortening the parade route, but UCC building owner Gary Fultheim agreed to pay the extra money required to maintain the parade route launch point in front of his property.
This year's grand marshals are Sara Pol-Lim, Kimthai Kuoch, Jeanetta McAlpin and Steve Meng.
Kuoch is the executive director of the Cambodian Association of America and Pol-Lim is the executive director of the United Cambodian Community. CAA and UCC are the two main social service providers in Long Beach for Cambodian-Americans. McAlpin and Meng both have extensive backgrounds in helping Cambodians with their mental health, social and legal needs.
About 50 groups have signed up to participate in this year's event.
After the parade there will be entertainment and festivities at MacArthur Park until 4:30 p.m. For the second straight year a carnival will take place on the empty lot at Anaheim Street and Walnut Avenue.
Also for the second straight year, the parade takes place more than two weeks before the actual Cambodian New Year, which is a three-day celebration between April 14 and 16.
The parade and the New Year Celebration, which will be April 9 at El Dorado Park, moved their dates so as not to conflict with the 37 th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Once again organizers struggled to pay for the event. In the past couple years donations have plummeted and not bounced back. Earlier this year, several meetings were staged to find ways to raise money or cut costs. Area teenagers staged a car wash to raise money and other fund-raisers helped the Cambodian Coordinating Council, which overseas both of the area's main Cambodian New Year events.
The Cambodian New Year Celebration April 9 at El Dorado Park Area III, 7550 E. Spring St, runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It features religious ceremonies, ethnic food, games and live entertainment including traditional Khmer performances and music with popular Khmer singers.
Advance admission to the event is $23 per vehicle and $7 entrance fee to be paid to the city. Advance tickets are available at many Cambodian restaurants and businesses throughout Long Beach. See www.cam-cc.org for a complete list of locations.
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 10:55 PM PDT
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 09:38 PM PDT
April 1, 2011
Democracy and human rights groups are warning that Cambodia's draft law to regulate non-governmental organizations threatens to undermine freedom of association and expression, confirming the country's authoritarian drift.
The government made slight amendments to an earlier draft following objections from civil society organisations, but the changes fail to address NGO concerns, said Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, in a statement released by the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.
The CHRAC is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
The new draft "makes it easier for the government to shut down civil society organizations, or deny registration," the NGOs complained.
Dozens of civil associations denounced the law at a press conference in Phnom Penh this week.
The proposed legislation will reduce political space and stifle independent voices in a country where rights to free expression and assembly are already restricted and democratic institutions barely functioning.
"The current legal framework is open to discretion and its implementation saddled by a weak understanding of the concept of civil society," according to the International Center for Not-for-Profit-Law. "There is no effective judiciary or effective rule of law."
Prime Minister Hun Sen has presided over a pronounced democratic regression which come observers attribute to the growing influence and soft power of China.
"NGOs involved in advocacy, legal rights and human rights are seen by the RCG as unwanted opposition and the environment for their activity is restrictive," the ICNL notes. "The power of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is increasing and the Cambodian state is becoming increasingly authoritarian."
Cambodia has not undertaken a truth and reconciliation process, and the regime's refusal to appropriately address the Khmer Rouge genocide has cultivated a culture of impunity, rights activists suggest.
An estimated 1.7 million people (21% of the population) were killed over four years of Khmer Rouge rule but few of the perpetrators have been held to account. Kaing Guak Eav, more widely known as Comrade Duch, last year received a 35-year prison sentence for his active participation in atrocities at the S-21 detention and torture camp.
The only person so far convicted, Duch is appealing his sentence and claims he was coerced into committing abuses by more senior Khmer Rouge figures. Four such leaders will go on trial later this year in what is known as "Case Number 2" and he could face a reduced sentence for testifying against his former comrades.
That prospect scandalizes lawyer Theary Seng (left), founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation, whose parents were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. She says that a reduced sentence for Duch would be an outrageous injustice and fears that his inconsistencies could jeopardize the bigger Case Number 2.
Seng is lodging an application to become a civil party in a third case, the prosecution of Khmer Rouge commanders Meas Muth and Sou Met, both of whom she holds "personally, individually, criminally responsible" for the murder of her parents. They are two of the five suspects currently under investigation by United Nations personnel at the Office of Co-Investigating Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
But local rights activists suspect that the Cambodian government is likely to sabotage the prosecutions. Prime Minister Hun Sen is himself a former Khmer Rouge official. He has publicly declared his reluctance to let government officials testify at the trial.
"Allegations of political interference have also caused uncertainty over the likelihood of further indictments beyond Case 002, complicating the development of a completion strategy for the tribunal," according to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 09:10 PM PDT
Posted: 01 Apr 2011 08:05 PM PDT
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