French, Cambodia Upper Houses Share Experiences
Phnom Penh, January 27, 2011 AKP – A seminar related to the role of senators was held here yesterday under the chairmanship of Senate Second Vice President H.E. Tep Ngorn and visiting French Senate First Vice President Ms. Catherine Tasca.
On the occasion, Ms. Tasca shared with the Cambodian side the experiences of the French Upper House concerning the role of senators.
For his part, H.E. Tep Ngorn thanked the French side for the experience sharing and he highly valued the visit of Ms. Tasca to Cambodia, which he said will contribute to further strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation between the Upper Houses and the peoples of the two countries.
The French Senate delegation led by Ms. Tasca, also chairperson of French-Cambodia Friendship Senate Group, arrived here on Jan. 24 for a week-long visit to Cambodia. During her visit, she was received in a royal audience by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and held talks with Senate Second Vice President H.E. Tep Ngorn, and Acting National Assembly President H.E. Nguon Nhel.
According to the schedule, the French delegation will also meet with Siem Reap Governor H.E. Sou Phirin and visit the French School and bilingual classes in Siem Reap province. –AKP
By SOKMOM Nimul
NLC/S Move Towards Democracy and Poverty Reduction
Phnom Penh, January 27, 2011 AKP – Umbrella body of commune/sangkat council across Cambodia, better known as National League of Communes/Sangkats, on Jan. 26-27 organized its 6th annual meeting at the office of Battambang provincial governor.
Participated by more than 360 representatives of commune/sangkat councils, concerned government institutions and partner organizations, the one-day-and-a-half meeting was opened under the chairmanship of Director General of the Department General of Local Administration (Ministry of Interior) H.E. Leng Vy.
“The meeting is a vital forum for commune councilors to reflect what they have achieved and agree on their next strategic actions,” addressed H.E. Leng Vy to all participants adding that the Ministry of Interior is committed to support the national league toward decentralization and de-concentration reform to bring about real democracy and to reduce poverty – in alignment with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s second-phase rectangular strategy.
Established by the national congress, the National League of Communes/Sangkats was registered by the Ministry of Interior as a non-governmental organization in late 2006 with 1,621 commune/sangkat councils Cambodia-wide as members.
As stated in its goal, the league works to “enhance the status and capacity of commune/sangkat councils and to achieve a democratic and decentralized administration that is effective, sustainable, transparent, accountable and self-reliant”.
According to the National League of Communes/Sangkats President Mr. Say Kosal, key achievements of the leagues include the initiative of best practice award for commune councils and civil society organizations, locally responsive district forums, commune/sangkat council capacity transformation and betterment of public information work.
Building on its successes with consideration of its challenges, the meeting reached a consensus on the league’s 2011-2015 strategic plan – a long-term way forward to institutional strengthening, financial sustainability, more capacity transformation, robust advocacy, additional service to align with the millennium development goals, climate-change focused economic development and gender equity in politics. –AKP
By MOM Chan Dara Soleil
Cambodia-UK Joint Education Fair 2011
Phnom Penh, January 27, 2011 AKP – Cambodia and the United Kingdom have jointly organized the Education Fair 2011 at the National Institute for Education, Phnom Penh.
The official opening of the three-day fair (Jan. 25-27) was held in the presence of H.E. Andrew Mace, UK ambassador to Cambodia; H.E. Pith Chamnan, secretary of state for Education, Youth and Sports, and H.E. Ly Chheng, advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and chairman of Higher Education Establishment Association of Cambodia.
Some 25 UK universities have been participating in the fair organized by Spring Board 4 Cambodia and the Higher Education Establishment Association of Cambodia.
On the occasion, the UK ambassador said the fair, the third of its kind, is a good opportunity for Cambodian students to know clearly about education system and information technology.
It also helps consolidate the cooperation between UK and Cambodian universities, he said. –AKP
By SOKMOM Nimul
ANALYSIS 25 JANUARY 2011: THE MAKING OF A NEW HISTORY IN THAILAND
The People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) known as “Yellow Shirts,” as a political movement had forced the fall of the government of Premier Somchai Wongsawat with the dissolution of the People’s Power Party (PPP) and two of their other coalition partner parties, and catapulted the Democratic Party of Thailand and Abhisit Vejjajiva to power. At the present time the Abhisit government and the PAD do not see eyes to eyes and their differences, mainly philosophical and political pulled them apart even wider by the days.
The PAD protest against Thaksin Shinawatra government since 2005 led to the military coup of 19 September 2006 that toppled the elected government of Thailand. Feeling that they have achieved their goal, the PAD dissolved voluntary, but returned to the streets in 2008 to protest against the elected government of Premier Samak Sundaravej of the People’s Power Party (PPP) who was forced to resign in September 2008 by the order of the Constitutional Court of Thailand. Vice-Premier and Minister of Education Somchai Wongsawat became Prime Minister, but he was removed by a “judicial coup” leading to the election of the Democratic Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as Prime Minister on 15 December 2008 up to the present. The high point of PAD protest against the government of Somchai Wongsawat was the takeover and occupation of Bangkok Souwannaphuma airport and Bangkok Don Muang airport that stranded around 35,000 tourists and forced the air traffic in and out of the two airports to a standstill for weeks.
The PAD comprising media activists, social activists, academics, and leaders of worker’s unions, is opposed to what it calls the “Thaksin system,” which is seen by some as “Thaksin autocracy.” The PAD also criticized the Samak government’s decision to support the Cambodian government’s application for the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site. The PAD called for Thai investors to withdraw from Cambodia, the closure of all 40 Thai-Cambodian border checkpoints, a ban on all flights from Thailand to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, the construction of a naval base at Koh Kut near the border, and the abolishment of the committee which oversees demarcation of overlapping sea areas and the unilateral declaration of a Thai marine map.
On Saturday 19 September 2009 about 4,000 “Yellow Shirts” supporters of PAD led by its core leader Veera Somkwamkid attempted to get closer to the Temple of Preah Vihear area to read the petition demanding the Abhisit government to push the Cambodian “intruders” out of the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
Now the PAD is no longer a “pure” political movement. It is a political movement only in the name, or it is a political body carrying two faces. It has transformed itself into a political party already formed, the “New Politics Party,” (NPP) with similar purpose as all other political parties in Thailand, including the Democratic Party, the Proud Thai Party, the For Thai Party…etc…, that is to win the election, to form the government and to lead the country. As a political movement, the PAD is seen as benevolent and patriotic. As political party, even bearing a different name, the PAD is seen as “another political party in Thailand” with all its ambitions that are wise or wild. And when the best days come, when the PAD political party becomes rich, it will be seen by a majority of Thai as “another Thai political party ,“ which will buy the votes from the majority of Thais who are willing to sell their votes. It is no longer a secret according to recent ABAC’s poll the majority of Thai voters are willing to sell their votes for money.
It has been reported in the Bangkok Post dated 25 January that “Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a key PAD leader, insisted yesterday the alliance would continue its rally until the group’s demands were met.” What are the PAD demands? They are:
• “to revoke the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding governing the Thai-Cambodian border areas,
• to cancel its membership of the World Heritage Committee, and
• to evict Cambodian villagers and troops from the 4.6 sq. km disputed areas near Preah Vihear Temple.”
On the other side of the fence, the head of the Royal Thai government Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva states that:
• “the 2000 MOU will not be revoked,
• Thailand will remain member of the World Heritage Committee, and
• no action will be taken to evict the Cambodians from the disputed areas.”
The stage is set. The PAD makes the first move by occupying Makkhavan bridge, while its ally the Thai Patriot Networks (TPN) and the Santi Asoka Sect (SAS) are encamped at Chamai Murachet bridge. On the government side, 24 companies of police or about 3,600 officers are deployed with a decisive mission to prevent the protesters from seizing government establishments, particularly the Government House and the Parliament.
Knowing the past “achievements” of the PAD, analysts and observers see PAD demands as simply a smokescreen to hide the only goal of ousting the government of Abhisit from office but, unfortunately, without a clear purpose as it had happened in the past when this group occupied Souwannaphuma and Don Muang airports. Then, the purpose was crystal clear, that is to bring down the government of Somchai Wongsawat and to force an alliance of different political parties to form a government led by the Democratic Party under Abhisit Vejjajiva. This time PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang sounds completely tamed and unenthusiastic by saying that he is “not confident of victory.” This will invite an interesting question, as to why the PAD, the TPN and the SAS organize the 25 January rally.
No one can say that it is a desperate act being undertaken by the PAD, the TPN and the SAS. But one can say with almost certainty that this is the last act. Despite all their efforts, the PAD, the TPN and the SAS have failed to incite the Thai armed forces leaders to move to their sides and to sympathize with their pleas. The mutual understanding of the Cambodian-Thai relations by the political and military leaders of both countries denies the chance for the protestors to pitch the Thai armed forces leaders against Abhisit. On the other hand between Cambodian and Thai leaders they have elevated themselves to the status of statesmen with the willingness to solve the existing problems by peaceful means, through consultations and negotiations. They have agreed to disagree. Thailand speaks about “disputed areas” along the common border between Thailand and Cambodia. Cambodia asserts that “there is no disputed area,” based on the existing international agreements, namely the 1904 Convention and the 1907 Treaty. From the disagreement, both sides have agreed that the demarcation should be left to the JBC, established under the 2000 MOU.
After all these years, if Thai people come to trust their political and military leaders, and inversely if Thai political and military leaders conducted themselves to be worthy of the trust of the Thai people, that latter can resign themselves from foreign and international affairs and focus on their own well being. Now, it is history that is long gone to take Cambodia as the hostage of Thai internal political competition. This is what Veera Somkwamkid intended to achieve, that is taking Cambodia hostage of Thai internal politics, when he trespassed Cambodian territory on 29 December 2010.
The first decisive factor is evidently the failure of Veera Somkwamkid and the TPN to polarize the Thai leadership (political and military).
The second decisive factor would be the failure of the protestors to seize public buildings in Bangkok.
The third decisive factor would be the effectiveness of the police forces and the security personnel of the government to thwart all attempts to harm and hurt the protestors and Thai public.
These decisive factors are the prescription that the 25 January rally is the final act of the PAD, the TPN and the SAS in their attempt to remove a legitimate government by military coup. But after all, it would be naïve to discount the ability and the power of the destructive forces that exploit the discontentment of desperate and unstable individuals who had nothing else to lose, but their soul. They can sell their soul to the devil, so why they cannot sell their soul to political manipulators. The chaos is needed, and the military coup is the last wish for the PAD, the TPN and the SAS to see the fall of the Abhisit government. A new history in Thailand will emerge if the efforts of shoving Thailand to go to war with Cambodia fail.
Senior Analyst and Researcher on
Institute for International Affairs, Cambodia
26 January 2011
(This article reflects only the personal opinion of the author)