Sunday, 23 November 2008

Animal rights group slams Cambodia monkey trade

A handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows a wild monkey collected from a submerged trap being handed to one of the trappers in a forest in Cambodia. An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China. A report to be released on November 24, 2008 by the BUAV says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported. REUTERS/BUAV/Handout (CAMBODIA). FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

A handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows rows of cages, used to house monkeys, at Vanny Bio-Research in the Srok Kean Svay district in Cambodia. An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China. A report to be released on November 24, 2008 by the BUAV says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported. REUTERS/BUAV/Handout (CAMBODIA) QUALITY FROM SOURCE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

An undated handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows a wild monkey trapped in a forest in Cambodia.(BUAV/Handout/Reuters)

An undated handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows a recently caught wild infant monkey in a forest in Cambodia. An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China. A report to be released on November 24, 2008 by the BUAV says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported. REUTERS/BUAV/Handout (CAMBODIA). FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

A undated handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows monkeys kept at Vanny Bio-Research in the Srok Kean Svay district in Cambodia. An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China. A report to be released on November 24, 2008 by the BUAV says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported. REUTERS/BUAV/Handout (CAMBODIA). FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

Tension rises

People’s Alliance for Democracy supporters take the body of Jenkit Kladsakorn to the Metropolitan Police Bureau, demanding justice and action for his death. Jenkit was killed in a bomb blast at the PAD protest site on Thursday. — Thiti Wannamontha

Bangkok Post
Saturday November 22, 2008

(, with agency reports)

A new grenade attack killed a member of the People's Alliance for Democracy as the group marshalled supporters for a huge rally on Sunday to shut down parliament and oust the government.

A new grenade attack killed a member of the People's Alliance for Democracy as the group marshalled supporters for a huge rally on Sunday to shut down parliament and oust the government.

Police said a round fired from a Vietnam war-era M-79 grenade launcher exploded among a group of guards working for the PAD at Government House.

The area has been occupied by the PAD since August.

Saturday's explosion occurred shortly after 2am at a guard post outside the compound. The weapon and drive-by tactic was the same as an incident on Thursday which killed one PAD protester and wounded more than 20 inside the compound.

No one took responsibility for the blast. Police said the grenade was fired from somewhere nearby but could not pinpoint the location or suggest who would have fired it.

PAD core leader Chamlong Srimuang, said the grenade was launched from the headquarters of the Bangkok Metropolitan police about 150 metres away.

"The grenade was fired from the (police) headquarters. This proves the attackers were government security forces or bad guys who are supported by the government," he told about 2,000 PAD members from the stage at Government House.

Maj-Gen Chamlong and colleagues have claimed that the government is behind violent attacks on the PAD.

They have used this conspiracy theory to recruit crowds for a street protest in Bangkok aiming again to topple the government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. Similar rallies since May 25 have called on the government to resign.

He said the mass march will start late on Sunday and continue into Monday to "finish off" the government. He did not tell the crowd his destination, but it is assumed to be parliament.

On Monday, a joint House-Senate session of parliament is due to consider draft laws and a series of treaties for the Asean summit in Chiang Mai in three weeks.

Speaking to the crowd, he said the protesters will march from government house, but did not name the destination - although most expect it will be Parliament, where the government plans to meet Monday morning.

"Police will be responsible for control of the situation but the military will be on call to support police in keeping order," army spokesman Col Sansern Khaewkamnerd said.

The army "highly recommended" parliament move its meeting, to try to avoid a repeat of the Oct 7 crackdown which led to the death of a PAD protester.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob said he had no authority to order such a change. If the army really parliament to hold its session elsewhere, it should provide facilities equivalent to those available at parliament.

Senate Speaker Prasobsuk Boondej said technically the meeting could be relocated to avoid confrontation but Mr Chai just was not willing to move.

Bangkok police chief Pol Gen Jongrak Jutanon said there will be 2,400 police stationed at parliament by Sunday afternoon. "I hope the protesters do not obstruct members of parliament from doing their duty," he said Saturday.

Border meeting 'better than expected', says Vasin

Vasin: Avoid political games

Bangkok Post
Sunday November 23, 2008

Vasin Teeravechyan, chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), talks to THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL about the latest attempts to resolve the border spat and the challenges ahead.

What were your impressions before and after the JBC meeting on Nov 10-12 in Siem Reap?

Before the meeting, I thought there would be many problems and I didn't expect much would be achieved, but the results were quite good. I thought Cambodia understood Thailand well enough and the meeting avoided sensitive issues, for example whether to call the temple Preah Vihear or Phra Viharn. Each side knew each other's weaknesses and sought a compromise. The meeting was good but I don't know how long both countries can avoid touching on the sensitive issues.

If the pending issues [the name of the temple and reduction of troops] are not approved by parliament in this session, will it affect the negotiations?

I think it will pass parliament in this session. Other issues which were already agreed by both countries should have no problem moving forward. For example, the issue on the start of an immediate field survey and border demarcation at Preah Vihear temple or the setting up of a coordinating group to take care of future problems could begin immediately because they are explainable. If parliament does not agree, we could tackle these issues with Cambodia.
What would the result be if there was no Article 190 in the constitution?

Certainly, negotiations would be much easier. We used to do bilateral negotiations informally before requesting parliamentary approval when everything has been settled. Things are a little different now because we are required to consult parliament first for an approved framework for negotiation.

The point is we are handling these negotiations with the best intentions. But when people [who are opposed to the ministry's position] refuse to listen to our explanations, they close themselves off from the other sides of the issue.

I have met former deputy foreign minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra and asked him to tell the Democrat party about the Preah Vihear temple issue. I also plan to meet many people to talk about this issue. If issues like this are pulled into a political game, the country cannot survive.

Should the JBC conduct border surveys and demarcation in other areas concurrently with the area near Preah Vihear temple?

Yes, I think so, otherwise the border demarcation process will be delayed. The two survey and demarcation teams should start together. Both sides have agreed on this but have not yet decided on other areas apart from Preah Vihear.

Do you see a change in position by Phnom Penh after finishing the first round of talks?

Yes. The Phnom Penh government showed its commitment to resolving the border problems. It cannot be rushed. If either side tries to rush, it will be at a disadvantage, because they are lots of details to discuss.

Compared to other borders Thailand shares with its neighbours, does the Thai-Cambodian border have more problems?

It does have more problems than the Thai-Lao border. But in fact, all borders have problems because the agreements which Thailand has had with France and the UK in the past were quite rough. When we pointed to the watershed on the map, it was not precise. Sometimes we could not find the names in the new maps, so we have to survey the areas physically to verify the locations before demarcation can be finalised.

When will we use the maps for the discussions?
We hope to do that once the survey teams have completed their work. But the more we touch on the maps, the more problems will arise [because Thailand and Cambodia use different maps as their references].

When you decided to accept this position (Chairman of JBC), what were you most concerned about?

It was the different ideas of people around the country. I was quite stressed because I had to think of people first before doing anything. I also reaffirmed with Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat and everyone I met that I would not get involved in politics.

Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open returns to Phokeethra Country Club

Asia Golf Online

Nov 23rd, 2008 By admin
Category: Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open

The Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open will mark its return to the Phokeethra Country Club from December 11 to 14 with a promise of continuing the growth of golf in Cambodia.

Organisers are confident that the US$300,000 Asian Tour event will once again provide the platform for aspiring amateurs to make an impact at the highly rated Phokheetra Country Club and continue to place Cambodia firmly on the international golfing map.

Asian Tour’s Senior Vice President Gerry Norquist believes that the staging of Cambodia’s national championship bodes well for the future of golf in such developing countries and will act as a launch pad for exciting talents to emerge.

“We are truly excited about the return of the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open as this event will not only provide the inspiration for Cambodians to learn more about the game but also allow them follow in the footsteps of our Asian Tour professionals,” said Norquist.

As the second from last ranking event on the 2008 Asian Tour season, the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open will also shape the race for the prestigious Asian Tour Order of Merit title which is currently led by Mark Brown of New Zealand.

Defending champion Bryan Saltus of the United States who secured his maiden triumph at last year’s inaugural event will undoubtedly be amongst the contenders again.

The colorful American celebrated his victory by jumping into the lake next to the 18th green after his final putt last year.

The Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open is the only international golf tournament to be held in the Kingdom of Cambodia and is part of a record 2008 Asian Tour schedule where an unprecedented 30 tournaments with nearly US$40 million are on offer.

Didier Lamoot, General Manger of Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort & Phokeethra Country Club said: “We truly enjoyed being a part of history last year with the staging of the inaugural Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open and will continue to assist in laying the concerted effort to push the game to continue its growth in our country.”

Cambodia to hold 13th international marathon near Angkor Wat

November 23, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 23 — Cambodia Tourism Ministry will hold 13th international marathon championship on Dec. 7 in Siem Reap province, where the centuries-old Angkor Wat is situated, local media reported on Sunday.

The race is expected to promote tourism there amid the world economic crisis, Chinese-language newspaper the Jian Hua Daily quoted Tourism Minister Thong Khon as saying.

"Around 2,100 runners will participate in the activity, with over 800 from 30 foreign countries," he said. "In addition, the Asia Golf Tour will also be started in Siem Reap on Dec. 11 in the province."

"These sports events may help Cambodia counter the negative effects posed by the financial recession and the current border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over the kingdom's tourism industry," he added.

The ministry has lowered it expectation of foreign tourists for 2008 to 2.1 million from the original 2.7 million.

Tourism is one of the pillar industries of the country and the Angkor Wat the hottest sight-seeing spot. (PNA/Xinhua)

Animal rights group slams Cambodia monkey trade

An undated handout picture taken recently by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) shows a recently caught wild infant monkey in a forest in Cambodia.

Sun Nov 23, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China.

A report to be released on Monday by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) says thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are taken from the wild each year and kept in cruel conditions before being exported.

Thousands more are raised on monkey farms in conditions so far removed from nature that they are traumatized for life, it says.

While the long-tailed macaque is not endangered, the group says the unregulated trade is already having an effect on population numbers and leading to a degrading of Cambodia's jungles.

"People around the world will be shocked by the findings of the BUAV investigation and to learn of the suffering inflicted on Cambodia's monkeys," said Michelle Thew, chief executive of the organization.

"At a time when there is growing international concern over the plight of primates, we urge the Cambodian government to protect its indigenous macaque population."

Apart from humans, the macaque is the world's most widespread primate and includes 22 species ranging from Africa to Japan.

They are highly intelligent and adapt well to living in urban areas where they frequently earn a love-hate relationship with locals on account of their mischievous ways.

The report says nearly 10,000 monkeys were exported from Cambodia last year -- mostly to laboratories and primate dealers in the U.S. and China.

International conventions discourage the use of captured wild animals for research, preferring second-generation breeding stock instead, but BUAV says this is widely ignored in Cambodia.

The report said as many as eight out of 10 macaques trapped in the wild died before reaching the laboratory as a result of poor treatment, handling or trauma.

The BUAV has called on the Cambodian government to better regulate the industry and to ban the capture of wild animals.

It also urges the U.S. and European Union to prohibit imports of captured wild animals and to press for better conditions at monkey breeding centers.

(Writing by David Fox; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

MTV EXIT concert tour kicks off Saturday in Sihanoukville

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 21 November 2008

BRITISH rock sensation Placebo will play Angkor Wat's first rock concert in what is expected to be the highlight of an MTV EXIT campaign against human trafficking that kicks off Saturday in Sihanoukville.

The 18-month tour will touch down in Kampong Cham on November 29 before the December 7 Placebo gig, which will also feature Grammy Award winner Duncan Sheik and Australian pop-star Kate Miller-Heidke.

The US band Click Five will also join the tour, which wraps up at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium on December 12.

"It's just one of the most breathtaking and unique places I have ever spent time in really," Placebo's 35-year-old lead singer Brian Molko said of the Angkor Wat, which he visited three years ago as a tourist.

Since its beginnings in 2004 in Eastern Europe, MTV EXIT has developed as a full-blown concert series with stops across Asia.

This tour is the second phase of a two-year project funded by USAID in Asia, organisers say.

The first phase was a 30-minute documentary about human trafficking. Presented by actress Angelina Jolie, the film tells the stories of people who work in the trafficking industry and its victims.

It was widely circulated around Asia in nine languages and played on CNTV in Cambodia.

"We chose Cambodia as a testing ground [for the concerts] because our documentary was received really well here," said Matt Love, EXIT's campaign manager.

After the Cambodia concerts, the tour will continue on to the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia, with special guest acts to be announced for each country.

A number of local groups will play throughout the Cambodian tour, including special recording artists, Pou Klaing.

The MTV EXIT campaign is fully sponsored by the US government and locally supported by QB, making the concerts free.


Prime minister says garment sector will survive market crisis

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 21 November 2008

Factories should target low-end market, PM says, but figures suggest the industry faces a slowdown as demand for exports shrinks

THE garment sector will not be seriously impacted by the global financial crisis, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday at a summit of trade leaders from the world's poorest countries held in Siem Reap.

"Expensive clothes are rarely produced in our poor countries, but they are produced in other countries. So we may focus on cheaper garments," Hun Sen said, adding that garments made in Cambodia will continue to sell if they are marketed properly.

"At this point, I think that there has been no serious impact on the garment sector," he added.

The prime minister's comments come despite industry figures that suggest a general sector slowdown and expected lay-offs in coming months.

At least 20,000 workers have been laid off this year, say officials with the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, adding that 35 factories employing up to 5,000 workers each were facing closure.

GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng said earlier this week that 30 factories have already been closed this year.

"They closed because there were no purchase orders," he said.

Clothing demand has fallen sharply in the US as economic woes force consumers to cut back on nonessential purchases.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, garment exports plummeted 46 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, capping off a dismal year.

Export growth for all of 2007 stood at only 2.4 percent, representing US$2.9 billion.

Hun Sen said that Cambodia's export garment market is worth approximately $3.6 billion a year.

According to data from the US Department of Commerce, Cambodia garment exports to the US, the Kingdom's biggest textile market, totalled $1.8 billion in the first nine months of 2008, slightly down from the same period the previous year.

The sector is Cambodia's largest source of export income, providing 80 percent of its foreign exchange and employing more than 300,000 people.


Govt pressured to protect garment workers' salaries

A garment factory worker in Phnom Penh. A union leader is demanding assurances that bankrupt owners will pay salaries.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Friday, 21 November 2008

A new wage-protection proposal aims to cushion employees from the threat of unemployment amid rising factory closures

AUNION official on Thursday urged the government to implement new salary protections for garment workers amid fears of more factory closures in coming months.

Som Aun, president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia, said garment factories should be required to deposit four months' worth of salaries in a bank account for all employees before they are allowed to operate.

"I think these deposits will better ensure the security of workers in the wake of garment factory bankruptcies," he said.

Several garment factories in Cambodia have used bankruptcy as an excuse not to pay their workers, and there should be effective legislation in place to deal with the problem, he said.

"I think if my suggestion is acceptable, many problems will be solved, disputes will be cut down and factory operations will be better than before," he said.

Some 10 factories that closed this year left more than 10,000 workers without pay, according to the union.

Proposal under review

Oum Mean, a secretary of state at the Labour Ministry, said Thursday that he had received the union's suggestion and was considering how best to serve both labour groups and factories.

"We welcome the union's suggestion, and we think it is good to enforce worker security when factories get into trouble," he said.

But he added that it will take time for both sides to determine the best approach before making any decisions.

The deposit program drew mixed reactions from garment industry officials and factory owners.

Fodsay Yong, managing director of the Supreme Garment Factory, said the deposit requirement was excessive.

"How can we deposit if we don't make enough money," she asked.

But Cheath Khemara, a senior labour officer with the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, did not dismiss the idea of a deposit requirement.

He said, however, that factory owners must be treated justly.

Protections for everyone

"It is everyone's responsibility when a factory goes bankrupt, but we have to negotiate better solutions for the garment sector to ensure job security for workers and lower costs for factories," Cheath Khemara said.

"If the unions demand deposits from factories to protect against bankruptcy, the factories should be able to demand that unions deposit money to protect against losses due to illegal strikes," he added.

Som Aun responded that any such demand for union deposits was spurious and overlooked the fact that factories often abandon workers, not the reverse.

"We have endured many cases in which factory owners ran off without paying workers, and we want legal protection to prevent this," he said.

Private sector gears up for biannual meet

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 21 November 2008

SIX hundred representatives from the government, private sector, nongovernmental organisations and the diplomatic service will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen today in the twice-annual Government-Private Sector Forum.

Industry leaders will be pushing for changes they say will prepare for the economic crisis, increase export competitiveness and improve the business climate.

The forum functions as a de facto Cabinet meeting,k and its decisions are legally binding, said a statement by the International Finance Corp - part of the World Bank Group.

The meeting will be led by representatives from eight sectoral working groups: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, tax and governance, banking, energy, infrastructure and transport, and exports and industrial relations.

The tourist sector hopes to see the passage of the tourism law and the establishment of a marketing board.

Manufacturers will urge a VAT cut on imported food and machinery and better access to preservative chemicals.

For land, tax and good governance, the industry will press for legalisation of land titles for condominiums.

Banking is encouraging more flexible policies for the sector, while the energy and infrastructure sector is pushing for lower internet costs and better interconnections.

Export and trade delegates will urge better labour relations, lower customs clearance charges and a 20 percent cut in export management fees.

Industrial relations requests include a drive for collective bargaining agreements and the establishment of a labour court. Agriculture hopes for better cooperation between farmers and the government.

Poor countries need access to global markets: ministers

Photo by: AFP
A man carries rice in Phnom Penh. Ministers in Siem Reap pressed for open markets.

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 21 November 2008

WTO chief Pascal Lamy praises Cambodia's progress in economic reforms as leaders from world's poorest countries call for more trade partnerships

CAMBODIA is "ahead of the curve" in fulfilling the requirements of its World Trade Organisation membership and has made strong progress in economic reforms, WTO chief Pascal Lamy said in an interview with the Post Thursday.

The comments were made following a meeting of trade officials from 49 of the world's poorest countries, organised in Siem Reap by the WTO and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

Lamy said progress has been made on "synergising WTO accession, trade openings, economic reform and production capacity in industry, services, or even agriculture, as you can see in the example of rice exports".

He added that Cambodia has been successful growing its economy with a "uniform economic strategy brought together under the relatively strong political hand of [Commerce Minister] Cham Prasidh".

"Cambodians are hardworking people. They are accustomed to adversity and do not have a fatalistic attitude," he said.

The remarks followed a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday that sharply criticised Western countries' reluctance to open their markets to Third World goods, as well as their refusal to scrap agricultural subsidies.

Joint declaration

Participants at the end of the two-day talks produced a declaration on trade and the financial crisis that included 12 resolutions calling for inter-agency cooperation in the UN and more strategic partnerships.

"We strongly urge our development partners to implement all internationally agreed measures in favour of LDCs, and to adopt new ones, to enable our economies to benefit more from the existing opportunities provided by the international trading system," said a draft of the text.

The talks were in part meant to shore up Third World support for the Doha Round of WTO trade talks, which have stalled amid friction.

Trade deal needed

Lamy told officials at the meeting Wednesday that a trade deal was now more important than ever to help poor countries. "There is a strong sense that we are all on the same boat and that we must act and coordinate together if we are to lift ourselves," he said, according to an official transcript of his remarks.

He said the international community needed to keep in mind "the interests of its poorest and weakest members and deliver on the promises" of more and better development aid.

The financial crisis will "no doubt have profound, and possibly prolonged, effects" on poor countries, he added.

A statement from Unido and the WTO said the talks should focus on speeding up trade reform in poor countries, as developing countries press for greater access to agricultural markets in the industrialised world.


LICADHO's Latest Report; Attacks & Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Cambodia

Denmark warns against new trade barriers

Fri 21 Nov 2008

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Developed nations must not use the global financial crisis to tighten trade barriers as free trade is the best way to boost economic growth, Denmark said late on Thursday.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries come close to a new global trade deal in July but faltered on differences over measures to protect subsistence farmers in poor countries from a surge in imports.

There are moves to revive the talks and ministers from the world's poorest countries are pushing for a quick deal because they fear protectionist groups might use the economic slump to push their agenda.

"The financial crisis must not be used as an excuse to expedite protectionist measures," said Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"It is hypocritical of developed countries to give development aid with one hand and raise trade barriers with the other," he said in Ethiopia at the second meeting of the Africa Commission, a Danish-led drive to boost African development.

The Doha round was launched in the Qatari capital seven years ago to free world trade and help developing countries by cutting farm subsidies and tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods.

"One of the most effective means of stimulating economic growth is to open up our markets to free trade," he said. "We strongly regret the failure of negotiations in the Doha round."

Top Chinese political advisor leaves for Asian visit

BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin left here on Sunday for official good-will visits to Jordan, Turkey, Laos and Cambodia from November 23 to December 6.

Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference(CPPCC), makes the visits at the invitations of Zaid Al Rifaee, president of Jordan's Senate, Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, Sisavat Keobounphan, chairman of Lao Front for National Reconstruction and member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, and Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Noppadon Pattama Discloses Interna in Negotiations about the Preah Vihear Temple Leading to Border Disputes - Saturday, 22.11.2008

Posted on 23 November 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 587

“Five months after losing his position, the former Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama [นพดล ปัทมะ], had to sleep with sorrow, before deciding to retire from politics and become a businessman, running an Italian restaurant at the Chao Praya riverside in Bangkok. Because he wanted to explain his recent pain, Mr. Noppadon Pattama wrote and published a book with the title “I Am No Traitor” to respond to different accusations against him.

“The following is an interview by local journalists in Siam with Mr. Noppadon Pattama, after he had published a book about the time when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was in charge of the dispute with Cambodia:

“Question: Why did the Preah Vihear Temple become a point that politicians attacked you?

“Noppadon: I took office in February 2008, but the UNESCO [World Heritage Committee] made its decision over the Preah Vihear Temple only in July 2008. At that time, we had only five months left to protest. I know that Siamese people from all levels would worry about a loss.

“In fact I took over this work from previous minister who has not finished the problem, because Cambodia sent a request to the UNESCO, including a 4.6 square/km disputed region. The government of Mr. Surayud Chulanont [สุรยุทธ์ จุลานนท์ - prime minister from 1 October 2006 to 29 January 2008, after the ouster of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] always opposed to move [in 2007], until Cambodia agreed to postpone, but [Cambodia] put pressure on Siam to agree with a new request next year. What was more important was that UNESCO found that the Preah Vihear Temple was really marvelous and well qualified to be listed, and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee just waited for an agreement between Cambodia and Thailand on some points.

“I used the negotiations in Koh Kong and in Paris [22 May 2008], until Cambodia agreed to withdraw [the claim for the 4.6 square km disputed region], and cut out the disputed region [see the Joint Communique of 18 June 2008, which says: “...the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple”]. It was a significant success, but people accused me of selling the nation; it is not true at all. Previously, even Major-General Denmichoak [? - phonetic], the head of the Military Map Department, who just passed away, said that there was no invasion into Thai territory [sanctioned by the Joint Communique], and he claimed this, based on the border line in Map L7071.

“Question: Did Cambodia agree to exclude the disputed region because of pressure or because we negotiated?

“Noppadon: First, it was because we negotiated while Cambodia disagreed, because the Preah Vihear Temple waited to be listed on the World Heritage Site list. Moreover, Cambodia had issued currency with images of the Preah Vihear Temple. One year before [in 2007], Cambodia missed the chance once, so before the elections [27 July 2008], the Cambodian government urgently wanted to have the temple listed; therefore, when we opposed to include the disputed region, Cambodia was concerned that it could not get it listed in time, and they agreed to exclude the disputed region.

“Question: What was negotiated in Koh Kong?

“Noppadon: On that day, I flew in a helicopter to Koh Kong to inaugurate the Siamese-Cambodian Friendship Road, and I took the opportunity to talk to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. Mr. Sok An disagreed with me immediately, ‘Mr. Noppadon Pattama, that area is not in the buffer zone, because the International Court had decided [in 1962] that the area belongs to Cambodia.’ I explained to Mr. Sok An that the International Court only decided that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to Cambodia, but did not decide on the territory. We argued with each other, and at that time, I suggested whether it was possible or not to include the Preah Vihear Temple only. Then, Mr. Sok An took it for a discussions with the leaders of the Cambodian government. At that moment, I felt that Cambodia simply agreed, because there were only two months left before the elections, and they were unsure whether it could be listed or not.

“After that, we agreed that there was need for a trustworthy document to assure to list the temple only. Cambodia withdrew the old maps they had sent, and replaced them with a new one. At last, we met in Paris [on 22 May 2008] and finally agreed at 11:30 p.m. I looked at the new map and signed it, saying that it was usable, if it would be adopted by the cabinet, but the president of the opposition party, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva [อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ]​​, accused me later of secretly signing something with Cambodia.

“Afterwards, I brought it back and reported it during a meeting of the parliament on 26 May 2008. Can I carry the problem of the whole nation alone? Officials must understand this. I took this problem to the Council for National Security, where General Winai Phatthiyakul, who was National Security Council secretary-general at that time, praised me very much. General Anupong Paochinda [อนุพงษ์ เผ่าจินดา], the army commander-in-chief, told me that it was good to have made these achievements through the negotiations, because it was a long lasting problem.

“Finally, I was told to be guilty. I thought that I became a political hostage, because of a small number of demonstrators who use the law of the jungle, and because of some politicians in Thailand.

“They see the Preah Vihear Temple as a delicious bait to destroy our government, because through territorial and ethnic problems, they can agitate the citizens easily.

“Question: There has been stronger opposition since you returned from Paris [22 May 2008]. What do you think about it?

“Noppadon: I think about it too, but I think that if I had let Cambodia list also the disputed 4.6 square km area, I would have been cursed much stronger than I was.

“Question: Is Noppadon’s success related to the former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin, or not?

“Noppadon: There is no involvement at all. Mr. Thaksin did not call Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen by phone. I used to be Mr. Thaksin’s advisor, and Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister [Sok An] knew it, but I never asked Mr. Thaksin to call and give advise. Cambodian leaders know this and Cambodia and Siam are neighboring countries.

“Question: Have you ever felt that your mistake led to the death of soldiers at the Cambodian-Thai border dispute?

“Noppadon: I feel pity, but it is not me that made it happen. I dare to say that if one had followed me, those problems would not have happened, and it would not have led to soldiers to confront each other. There is no need to shed blood. Officials of the government would not need to negotiate again and again and have replacements for three or four Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and the relations with Mr. Hun Sen’s government would still be good.”

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3443, 22.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 November 2008

Prime Minister to attend 5th meeting of PMs of Vietnam, Lao and Cambodia

November 22, 2008

Nhan Dan - Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will attend the 5th Meeting of Prime Ministers of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia on the Development Triangle in the capital city of Vientiane, Laos from November 26-27.

According to an official announcement on November 21 by the Foreign Ministry, the attendance is to be made at the invitation of Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh.

Grenade attack kills Thai protestor, injures seven

Security staffs of the anti-government protesters examine the site where a bomb exploded at their protesting ground of government house in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008. A grenade attack on anti-government protesters occupying the Thai prime minister's office killed one person and wounded at least 23 early Thursday, an army official and protesters said.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

An injured man is carried away after a pre-dawn bomb blast inside a demonstration site at the Government House in Bangkok. A grenade attack on demonstrators occupying the Thai premier's offices killed one person and wounded 29 Thursday, prompting protest leaders to call for a new march against the government.(AFP)

An injured anti-government protester is wheeled on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance after a bomb attack at their protesting ground of government house in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. A grenade attack on protesters occupying the Thai prime minister's office wounded eight people early Saturday, officials said.(AP Photo)

The Cambodia News.Net

Saturday 22nd November, 2008 (IANS)

Bangkok, Nov 22 (DPA) Unknown assailants launched a grenade at anti-government protesters Saturday, killing one person and injuring seven people, fanning worries that Thailand was heading for more political street violence this weekend, media reports said.

Witnesses said two young men fired the device from an M-79 grenade launcher at guards for the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) outside Government House, the seat of the Thai government.

One of the eight victims died in hospital from shrapnel wounds to his body and neck, the Bangkok Post newspaper's online news service said.

On Thursday, a similar early morning attack on the PAD killed one man and injured 24 other people.

The attacks on the PAD, a loose coalition of groups adamantly opposed to the return to power of exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have intensified in recent weeks.

The PAD seized Government House Aug 26 and have occupied it since, demanding the resignation of the cabinet, which is now led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin's brother-in-law, and packed with Thaksin nominees and political allies.

Thaksin, a former billionaire telecommunications tycoon who used his personal fortune and populist policies to dominate Thai politics during his premierships from 2001 to 2006, was toppled by a coup two years ago.

He has been living in self-imposed exile since August, and is a fugitive from Thai justice.

The PAD has vowed to stage a mass rally of 100,000 people Sunday, when parliament convenes, to demand the resignation of the cabinet.

At its last mass protest on October 7, police opened fire with tear-gas canisters, leading to a melee that left two PAD followers dead and hundreds injured.

More than 1,700 police have been assigned to keep the peace at Sunday's rally.

Xinhua added: Thailand's army commander Lt. Gen. Kanit Sapitak Saturday dismissed speculation that the army could stage a coup amid the political turmoil.'Coup is not on our mind.

We have duties to protect the country and to protect the border,' he was quoted by The Nation daily as saying. The army would act only when ordered, he said.