Saturday, 12 December 2009

Cambodia Fishing

Cambodians fish at sunrise in the Mekong river in Phnom Penh December 12, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea  (CAAI News Media)

Cambodians row a boat as they fish at sunrise in the Mekong river in Phnom Penh December 12, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

Thai PM welcomes Cambodian king's royal pardon for Thai engineer

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Dec 11 (TNA) - Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday said that the royal pardon granted by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni to a Thai engineer convicted of spying is good news, while at the same time reasserting that the diplomatic rift between Thailand and Cambodia was not caused by Thailand.

The Thai premier commented after Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith confirmed that King Sihamoni on Friday pardoned Siwarak Chutipong who was sentenced seven years in a Cambodian jail on charges of espionage, and will be released on Monday.

Mr Siwarak, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Service (CATS) was arrested, tried, sentenced to seven years jail term and fined Bt100,000 (US$3,000) for releasing the flight details of fugitive ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra when he visited Phnom Penh last month on his first trip there after being appointed economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

Mr Abhisit said that it is good that Mr Siwarak's case is finally ending. The most important thing is that the Thai national is being freed.

The Thai premier said he does not think that the issue will be magnified for political reasons, as Mr Siwarak has always insisted that the information he had shared was not a secret.

Mr Abhisit said it is the consideration of the Cambodian court that releasing the flight information affected Mr Thaksin’s security, but said he is unworried about explaining the matter to the international community.

"I think we can see the cause and origin of what has happened recently and that other countries understand well that the Thai government has done nothing to affect the situation," said the Thai premier. "Some people want this issue to be politicised.

“I think that most Thai people understand the situation,” Mr Abhisit said. “We did not intensify the matter.”

He reaffirmed that Thailand is still a good neighbour and will not interfere in Cambodia's internal affairs.

When asked whether there will be negative impact on the Thai government as Mr Siwarak confessed and pledged guilty to the case, Mr Abhisit reasserted that the Thai government had not involved with the case as the flight schedule should not be considered secret information.

He said that in Thailand, all flights which will fly over Thai skies also must be informed to the Thai authorities, adding that he believes anyone looking through the whole saga might notice some irregularities.

The Thai premier reiterated that Thailand has not started the current diplomatic row with its neighbour and Mr Siwarak is not the cause of the problem.

Mr Abhisit however said his government is keeping seeking extradition of ex-premier Thaksin. If Thailand receives information that he is revisiting Cambodia, extradition requests would be made to Cambodia. If he flies over Thai skies, Thai authorities must also try to arrest him.

Mr Thaksin was ousted by bloodless coup in September 2006 and was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for corruption and fraud in a Bangkok land purchase scandal in July 2008.

Mr Thaksin's visit to Phnom Penh last month fueled already existing tensions between the two neighbouring countries. The Thai and Cambodian ambassadors were recalled respectively, while Cambodia rejected Thailand's request to extradite the ousted premier to the kingdom. (TNA)

A pawn in the vicious political ball game

Saturday December 12, 2009


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

IF you are a pawn caught in the middle of a political dogfight between the Abhisit Vejjajiva-led government and the double team of Thaksin Shinawatra-Hun Sen, what will happen if you are caught in Cambodia passing Thaksin’s flight schedule to a Phnom Penh-based Thai diplomat?

Answer: The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will sentence you to seven years in jail and a fine of 10 million riels (about RM8,200).

Siwarak Chotipong, a 31-year-old Thai engineer working for the Thai-owned Cambodia Air Traffic Ser­­­­vices (Cats), was found guilty on Tuesday by a Cambodian court for espionage (stealing information relevant to Thaksin’s flight plan to Cambodia).

“Obtaining the flight schedule was very important for the Thai government, but it severely endangered Thaksin,” Judge Ke Sakhan said, reading the verdict against Siwarak. “It also affected the national security of Cambodia.”

Thaksin’s flight schedule was “sensitive information” as Thaksin is now a high-ranking Cambodian government adviser, said Phnom Penh court deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun.

“His flight schedule is not a simple document like a wedding invitation,” he said.

The court hearing was held as relations between the two neigbouring countries hit an all-time low.

Thailand withdrew its ambassador in Phnom Penh after Cambodia appointed Thaksin as economic adviser. And in retaliation, Cambodia recalled its ambassador in Bangkok.

The “sad truth” of the court verdict, according to the Bangkok Post in an editorial on Thursday, is Siwarak is “a mere pawn caught in the middle of a vicious political ball game between the Democrat-led government and Thaksin, with Hun Sen openly taking the latter’s side”.

“Therefore, it should not be surprising if the victim’s mother, Simarak na Nakhon Phanom, has opted to seek help from (Thaksin) and (the pro-Thaksin political party) Pheu Thai chairman General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, instead of the Thai Foreign Ministry in seeking a royal pardon from Cambodia for her convicted son,” editorialised the English-language Thai newspaper.

According to The Phnom Penh Post, a royal pardon was a likely scenario in the intensely politicised case.

It quoted Cambodian Centre for Human Rights president Ou Virak as saying that there were likely “politics being played behind the scenes” for Siwarak’s release.

Ou Virak said the case was a “major embarrassment” for Thai Prime Minister Vejjajiva and “it presented the opportunity for Hun Sen to either seek rapprochement with Abhisit or lend further support to Thaksin and Pheu Thai”.

“The question is: what message does the Cambodian side want to send, and which side are they going to pick?” Ou Virak said.

However, the Bangkok Post editorialised: “For now, it does not really matter which side will eventually get the credit for resolving this unfortunate human drama so long as the victim is brought home. What really matters and is indeed very disturbing, is that the ongoing political feud has become regionalised and gone many steps too far.”

But tell that to the Democrat, the backbone of Abhisit’s coalition government.

Democrat Party spokesman Thepthai Senpong was surprised that Simarak was seeking a royal pardon for her son through the opposition party Pheu Thai.

“I’m surprised by Simarak’s decision to help her son without asking for the Foreign Ministry’s assistance, because this is not in line with international practice,” he told the media. “I wonder if Thaksin, Chavalit and Hun Sen have more prominent roles than the Cambodian king.”

In politically-divided Thailand, Sirivak’s role in the diplomatic row, unsurprisingly, has taken a political dimension.

In a column called “Ask The Editors” in The Nation, an English-language Thai newspaper, Tulsathit Taptim wrote about the far-fetched theory that Siwarak was “in fact a (pro-Thaksin) red-shirted agent who was ‘planted’ as a Thai government spy so that he could be arrested on charges of espionage in order to embarrass Bangkok and allow Thaksin play a heroic saviour”.

“Those believing this theory have forgotten one key factor: Siwarak was allegedly acting in liaison with the Thai Embassy, which, appropriate or not, wanted him to find out what Thaksin was up to on his controversial arrival in Phnom Penh.

Without this embassy connection, it might have been plausible that Siwarak was a double-agent on a mission to humiliate the Thai government,” Tulsathit wrote.

Spy or not, Siwarak is clearly a pawn.

■ Siwarak has been pardoned by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and will be sent home on Monday.

Yellow vs Red to Roll On in Thailand

Saturday, December 12, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

With the red-shirted supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra taking to the streets once more in Bangkok, Thailand will close 2009 much as it did the previous year. Protests, counter-demonstrations, questions over legitimate government and a spat with Cambodia linger, meaning that the country will remain polarized and unstable for the foreseeable future.

Around 15-20,000 members of the pro-Thaksin National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) convened near Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Thursday to listen to a video-linked message from Thaksin and to seek the dissolution of parliament and a repeal of the 2007 Constitution, drafted by the army after it ousted Thaksin in a coup in 2006.

The protesters called the Constitution undemocratic and said they want a return to the 1997 Constitution under which Thaksin won two landslide elections in 2001 and 2005.

The UDD earlier canceled a planned three-day rally out of respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on Dec. 5. Thaksin had been stung by allegations of treachery for taking up a job as economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and for an interview with the UK newspaper The Times, which the Thai government views as undermining the country's revered monarchy.

The night before the demonstration, a fund-raising dinner was held in Bangkok for, a Web site started in 2004 to attract readers disillusioned with the mainstream Thai media. Opening the evening, the Web site's founder, Jon Ungpakorn, said that the Thai media environment was stifling and the level of self-censorship among Thai journalists meant that crucial issues were unreported or neglected completely.

“The media does not discuss extrajudicial killings, torture, the level of the military budget,” he said.

The theme of the discussion was “Thailand in Transition: A Historic Challenge, and What’s Next?” Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra told the assembled media and Bangkok elites that “political uncertainty in Thailand is likely to continue,” and implicitly questioned the policies of his own Democrat Party in dealing with the Muslim rebellion in the South and with neighboring Burma.

He said he believes that there will be a general election in Thailand in 2010, which will likely fuel current political strife. Irrespective of who wins, he said, “there will be questions over legitimacy, no matter who has the legal right to govern.”

Many of the tensions now besetting Thai politics stem from the issue of royal succession, a subject that is increasingly on people's minds as King Bhumibol approaches his third month in hospital for treatment of a lung infection.

Thongchai Winichakul, a professor based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, put the country's current travails into historical perspective, noting that the succession of King Chulalongkorn, Thailand's great modernizing monarch, presented similar political difficulties. “The more superhuman the father was made to look, the steeper the mountain the Crown Prince had to climb,” he said.

He said he believes that this is what lay behind the 1932 revolution which ended Thailand's absolute monarchy and concluded that contemporary royalists could, like their early 20th-century counterparts, end up “shooting themselves in the foot.”

Meanwhile, Thailand's open, export-oriented economy has been rocked by global and local economic uncertainties, and political instability could undermine recovery. Pansak Vinyaratn, a former journalist and adviser to Thaksin, said in a presentation that foreign investors want assurances that there will not be any more coups in Thailand and that election results will be adhered to.

Whether or not economic recovery comes, some feel that Thailand's political crisis will not be resolved unless social inequities are addressed.

“Thailand should be a fairer place than it is today,” said Pasuk Phongpichit of Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, noting that only some African kleptocracies and Latin American oligarchies have a more lopsided distribution of wealth than Thailand.

In fact, she said, Thailand has become more unequal in recent years, even as other Southeast Asian countries move to improve their social and economic imbalances.

Speaking to an audience at the plush Sheraton Grande in Bangkok, Pasuk pointed out that only half of Thai homes have piped water.

She also said that a revenue system based on a sales tax on goods and services hurts the less well-off, and criticized the “corrupt hi-so elite that can can get away with anything in Thailand.”

“Unless these issues are addressed, Thailand may never be at peace,” she concluded.

As if to to confirm this assessment, at Thursday's rally, UDD leader Jatuporn Phrompan pledged more demonstrations in 2010, telling Reuters that "our next mission is to expel the government."

As Sukhumbhand put it, it appears that Thailand's troubles will roll on, and that “yellow vs. red will continue.”

Puea Thai praise Hun Sen

Published: 12/12/2009 

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya should send a letter to thank the Cambodian government for seeking a royal pardon to Sivarak Chutiphong, the Thai engineer who was sentenced to seven years in prison for spying, Puea Thai spokesman Jirayu Huangsap said on Saturday.

“Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit should phone to Hun Sen to thank him on helping the Thai engineer be released”, Mr Jirayu said, adding that the government should not consider the release as an achievement of the opposition party.

Meanwhile, Puea Thai MP for Bangkok Karun Hosakul called on the army to refrain from using double standards against an army specialist Maj Gen Kattiya Sawasdipol.

The MP was responding to the move by the army to suspend Maj Gen Kattiya, widely known as Seh Daeng, for traveling to see deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia on Nov 13 without seeking permission to take leave from the army.

She Daeng also allegedly made defamatory remarks about army chief Anupong Paojinda in an interview with the media.

“If the double standards were used against Maj Gen Kattiya, it would clearly show that the army has taken side”, Mr Karun said.

US federal agents arrest 286 'illegal aliens'

Saturday, 12 December 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

This was the biggest operation undertaken by ICE

US federal immigration agents have arrested 286 suspected illegal immigrants in California during the largest such operation ever.

More than 400 agents and local law enforcement officers were involved in the three-day search.

This was the biggest operation undertaken by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agency.

More than 100 of those caught in the sweep have already been deported, with many others facing proceedings.

Officials said more than 80% of those arrested between Tuesday and Thursday had previous convictions for serious or violent crimes including rape and robbery.


There were also 30 convicted sex offenders in the group.

Most of the people - 207 - arrested were Mexican nationals, the AFP reported.

The others were from countries including Guatemala, India, Bolivia, the UK, Cambodia and Thailand.

At least 17 people are due to face charges for illegally re-entering the country after being deported. If they are convicted, they face 20 years in jail.

Six of those arrested did not have a criminal record.

Ice director John Morton said: "These are not people we want walking our streets.

"Legal immigration is an important part of our country's history and the American dream exists for many immigrants

"However, that dream involves playing by the rules and those who break our criminal laws will be removed from the country."

During the past year, 136,000 people have been expelled from the US after the government stepped up efforts to root out criminals evading deportation.

The Ice estimates that 560,000 "fugitive aliens" remain at large in the US. Not all of these people have criminal records.


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 12 (NNN-ADB): Cambodia will target sweeping new measures to boost incomes and livelihood opportunities for thousands of poor households in the Tonle Sap Basin region, in a bid to broaden the country?s economic base and address growing income disparities between urban and rural areas.

To aid the government?s goal, the Asian Development Bank?s (ADB) Board of Directors approved a loan and grant totaling $30.7 million for the Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholder Development Project.

Two of ADB?s development partners in Cambodia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Government of Finland will also contribute a combined $19.1 million.

Cambodia?s economy has grown between 6%-10% in recent years, driven by the construction, garment and tourism industries.

However, growth in the agriculture sector, which provides livelihoods for up to 85% of the population, has been uneven because of weak infrastructure, low productivity, a lack of access to markets and poorly developed rural financial services.

The result is persistently high levels of rural poverty and food insecurity, with almost a third of rural households lacking sufficient food during each year.

The project will spur agricultural productivity and increase incomes for up to 2.5 million people in 630,000 households in the poor Tonle Sap Basin provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap.

It will fund new or upgraded infrastructure, which is likely to include small-scale waterworks for irrigation and flood control systems, and improved farm-to-market roads.

In addition the project will help to establish commune-based livelihood improvement groups that will provide revolving funds to members to buy agricultural supplies such as seeds and fertilizers.

Support will be given to build up the capabilities of microfinance institutions and rural service agencies, to train farmers in modern agriculture technologies, and to boost access to information through internet centers or e-kiosks that can be utilized by commune members.

?The project will deliver a broad range of benefits including increased crop productivity and output, improved post-harvest management, market access and prices, greater access to rural financial services, and increased knowledge of agriculture technologies, all of which will help raise living standards, boost incomes, and provide livelihood opportunities for poor households,? said Ian Makin, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist with ADB?s Southeast Asia Department.

It is also part of a broader ADB-led initiative to develop the Tonle Sap Basin, and complements the work of other development partners in the agriculture sector, including IFAD.

The project is strongly focused on providing grass roots support for individual communities, who will be fully involved in identifying priority investments that reflect their specific needs.

It also includes a gender action plan to ensure women are able to participate fully and to benefit equitably from the project.

ADB?s funds from its concessional Asian Development Fund make up 55.5% of the total project cost of $55.3 million and include a loan equivalent to $3.4 million, and a grant of up to $27.3 million. The loan has a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years, with interest charged at 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% for the rest of the term.

IFAD?s loan and grant of up to $13.38 million, and Government of Finland?s grant of $5.75 million equivalent will be administered by ADB, with the Government of Cambodia providing $5.47 million to make up the balance of the total.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion around August.

Cambodia Spends About US$20 Million Each Year on Pesticides – Saturday, 12.12.2009

Posted on 12 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“Phnom Penh: A secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Om Kimsea, said recently that according to a study, each year about 3,200,000 liters of pesticides are used, corresponding to about US$20 million, and 57% of those pesticides are applied to vegetables.

“Mr. Om Kimsea added that in agriculture, chemicals like anorganic fertilizer and agricultural pesticides are one of the most well known means farmers use due to their effectiveness. However, if those chemicals do not conform to proper technical standards [or if they are not used properly!!!], they might be hazardous to human health, to animals, and to the environment.

“Regarding this issue, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries is trying to find all necessary measures to deal with this complex problem.

“Mr. Om Kimsea went on to say that the Ministry has created a mixed program for crop management for training farmers in the skills to manage crops to grow well and to provide high yields by considering the sustainability of the production, its economic efficiency, and the protection of the citizens’ wellbeing and of the environment, aiming to guarantee food security and food safety. He continued to say that this program focuses on reducing the use of chemicals, especially of agricultural pesticides in agriculture, in order to boost sustainable agricultural practices. Besides, the Ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Industry, and other relevant institutions regarding agricultural pesticides, their security, and the wellbeing of the citizens. He added that the Ministry works also with non-government organizations, national and international, to encourage the implementation of work related to this sector, to function efficiently and to improve gradually.

“He said that in the meantime, the Ministry is carefully checking international laws, such as the codes of procedures about the distribution and use of agricultural pesticides, like the Rotterdam Convention about chemicals and agricultural pesticides in international trade, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, in order to regularize and to expand the checking on trade and the use of agricultural pesticides in Cambodia.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2122, 12.12.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 12 December 2009

Khmer Rouge court to seek more money for trying 'bigger fish'+

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 12 (AP) - (Kyodo)—A delegation from the U.N.-backed court established for trying former Khmer Rouge leaders left for New York on Saturday to seek more funding for trying the surviving and remaining four leaders as many suggest they are the "bigger fish."

Kranh Tony, acting director of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and head of the delegation, told Kyodo News before departure that the meetings with a group of donor countries will begin Monday in New York.

The four former Khmer Rouge leaders detained at ECCC's detention facilities are: Noun Chea, chief ideologue, known as Brother No. 2, Khieu Samphan, the nominal Khmer Rouge leader, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as minister of social affairs.

Three top Khmer Rouge leaders blamed for the past atrocities -- supremo Pol Pot, military commander Ta Mok, and security chief Son Sen -- have died.

Kranh Tony said the funding sought would be used against the four aging Khmer Rouge leaders for the years 2010 and 2011.

While Kranh Tony declined to elaborate on how much money he plans to seek, U.N. sources told Kyodo News that $80 million is expected to be pledged by the donor countries during next week's meetings in New York to extend the ECCC operation for two more years.

The ECCC concluded last month the first of two expected trials concerning the case against Kaing Geuk Ieu, alias Duch, the former chief of S-21 torture center who admitted he was responsible for the deaths of at least 12,380 prisoners under his command.

Since the ECCC began operations in 2006, about $100 million has been spent by the United Nations and Cambodia to pursue justice against the Khmer Rouge leaders, Kranh Tony said.

Japan, one of the donor countries, has so far contributed about half of the amount spent for this tribunal.

The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians in the late 1970s.

Germany donates $300,000 for typhoon victims in Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Federal Republic of German has donated another 200,000 Euro (about 300,000 U.S. dollars) for typhoon Ketsana relief in Cambodia, bringing a total aid so far to428,920 Euro (some 643380 dollars).

The aid was aimed at supporting the victims of typhoon Ketsana who have lost their houses and suffer from food shortages due to the devastating tropical storm, according to a statement released by Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany seen on Saturday.

"The assistance will bridge humanitarian assistance provided earlier and will support efforts to reconstruct communal infrastructure in Ratanakiri Province. The affected population will also receive agricultural inputs in order to prepare for the next harvesting season," it said.

In October, Germany provided its immediate assistance to Cambodia for the same relief amounting 228,920 Euro (about 343380 dollars).

Earlier, the international aid agency Oxfam warned that a food crisis is looming in flood affected communities in Cambodia following typhoon Ketsana hitting this country in September.

Oxfam estimated that 100,000 people are affected by the floods and 15,000 households are in need of immediate food assistance.

Ratanakiri province is one of eight provinces in the central and northern Cambodia that were affected by flooding.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Thaksin to visit Asian nations

Dec 12, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK - FUGITIVE former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced on Saturday on his online Twitter page that he will make a week-long trip to visit three Asian countries.

His visit to Cambodia last month, to take up an economic advisory role with the government, caused a diplomatic row after Cambodian premier Hun Sen refused to extradite Thaksin to Thailand to serve a two-year jail term for graft.

'I have asked permission to visit and exchange views with three leaders in Asia for seven to eight days,' Thaksin said on his Twitter page, giving no further details.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday responded to rumours that Thaksin was planning a return to neighbouring Cambodia and said the government would probably submit another extradition request if he did so.

'If he enters our airspace we will try to arrest him because he is facing a jail term. We are likely to request for his extradition once again,' Mr Abhisit told reporters.

On Friday Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned Thai national Siwarak Chothipong, who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for spying on Thaksin during his visit to Phnom Penh. The 31-year-old employee at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service will be released from prison on Monday, following his conviction last Tuesday for supplying Thaksin's flight schedule to the Thai embassy. -- AFP

Thaksin to visit Asian countries

Published: 12/12/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in his Twitter page on Saturday morning that he plans to visit leaders of three Asian countries next week.

“This trip will take about seven or eight days” Thaksin said but did not give any details on the name of countries he would visit.

There was a report that Thaksin might also visit Cambodia to meet with Sivarak Chutiphong, the Thai engineer who received a royal pardon from King Narodom Sihamoni on Thursday after being sentenced to seven years in jail for spying by a Cambodia court.

Thaksin’s close associate Noppadon Pattama was reached for confirmation of the new trip to Cambodia of Thaksin but he said he had no knowledge about it.

News in Pictures

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni seen in Phnom Penh in November. The king has pardoned a Thai man jailed for seven years for spying on fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during a visit to Phnom Penh, the government says (AFP/File) (CAAI News Media)

Simarak Na Nakhon Panom (R), the mother of arrested Thai national Thai Siwarak Chothipong, cries outside the Phnom Penh municipal court where her son was tried for spying December 8. Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni Friday pardoned Siwarak. (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy) (CAAI News Media)

Simarak Na Nakhon Panom, mother of Thai national Thai Siwarak Chothipong, seen outside the Phnom Penh court where her son is on trial for spying. Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni has pardoned a Thai man jailed for seven years for spying on fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during a visit to Phnom Penh, the government says. (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy) (CAAI News Media)

Supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra rally at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. Thaksin criticised Thailand's "weakened democracy" Thursday in a video speech to thousands of red-shirted anti-government supporters rallying in Bangkok. (AFP/Pairoj) (CAAI News Media)

A Buddhist monk takes photograph of a rally by supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ,Thursday, Dec.10, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thousands of the red-shirted people took part in the rally in the first of several protests to force the embattled government from office. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

Supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra chant slogans while holding placards and pictures of Thaksin during a rally in Bangkok. Thaksin criticised Thailand's "weakened democracy" Thursday in a video speech to thousands of red-shirted anti-government supporters rallying in Bangkok. (AFP/Pairoj) (CAAI News Media)

Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is seen on a large screen during his address, to his supporters during a rally at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. Some thousands of the red-shirted people took part in the rally in the first of several protests in an effort to force the embattled government from office. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

A supporter of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dances to the music from the stage during a rally Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. Some thousands of the red-shirted people took part in the rally in the first of several protests in an effort to force the embattled government from office. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

Supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wait to light candles during an anti-government demonstration Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. The protestors, know as 'Red Shirts' are calling for more rallies in the coming weeks in a bid to unseat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (CAAI News Media)

Buddhist Monks and other supporters of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra watch his video uplink speech during an anti-government demonstration Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. The protestors, know as 'Red Shirts' are calling for more rallies in the coming weeks in a bid to unseat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (CAAI News Media)

Demonstrators sit on Ratchadamnoen Road near the Democracy monument during a rally in Bangkok December 10, 2009. Thousands of red-shirted protesters have gathered to press their demands for fresh elections. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (CAAI News Media)

Cambodian children face up to brutal past

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian schoolchildren are only just starting to learn about the murderous Khmer Rouge regime with the help of new textbooks. The hardline regime killed up to 2 million people during its 1975-9 rule.

United Nations International Human Rights Day – Thursday, 10.12.2009

Posted on 11 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Message at the occasion of the United Nations International Human Rights Day, from the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations. Human Rights Day serves as a yearly landmark to remember the victories won in the long struggle to respect the dignity of all human beings. But its main purpose is to mobilize against major threats to human rights, namely poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, climate change and terrorism. “Embrace Diversity. End Discrimination” is the motto of this 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

This motto is particularly pertinent in the contemporary world that has become more diverse than ever before. Migration flows at national and international levels are increasing. Continuing economic hardship, armed conflicts and tensions between communities in all parts of the world have pushed thousands to abandon their homelands in search of a better future.

These movements deeply affect all societies. Our major challenge today is to promote harmonious relations among people of different ethnic origin, culture, religion or belief. Ignorance and fear, accentuated by the ongoing economic and financial crisis, is a fertile ground for discrimination and new prejudices to arise. We must not let this happen.

It is only through mutual respect, understanding, constructive dialogue and acceptance of the right to be different that we will diffuse tensions and build more peaceful multicultural societies.

The Durban Review Conference held earlier this year voiced a message of solidarity with all those who remain excluded, marginalized and discriminated. UNESCO is working actively to translate this message into fact because we are committed to the principles of non-discrimination and respect for cultural diversity.

Promoting exchange and dialogue among cultures counts among our top priorities. Dialogue alone will enable us to look beyond our differences and prejudices and to realize that we are united by many common dreams, aspirations and challenges.

Cultural or any other specificity must be aligned with respect for fundamental freedoms. When it comes to the full implementation of human rights, there can be no compromises. Respect for cultural diversity can never justify partial violation of human rights on the grounds of cultural relativism. This is why UNESCO attaches great importance to clarifying the notion of the right to take part in cultural life. It could mark an important step in protecting cultural diversity and lifting possible misconceptions. The other two rights within UNESCO’s mandate – the right to education and the right to freedom of opinion and expression – are instrumental to safeguard cultural diversity.

The 2010 International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures provides an ideal platform for promoting tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue among cultures. These values are the foundations of a new humanism, a universal vision rooted in a profound respect for human dignity, fundamental rights and the diversity of cultures. This vision compels each and every human being to feel an engaged sense of responsibility towards the other and the safeguarding of our planet.

Indeed, the hopes of the world are turned towards the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. It is our shared responsibility to make concrete commitments towards present and future generations, and to extend full assistance to all those who are directly affected by climate change. UNESCO will be actively engaged in the follow-up to this Summit, through initiatives that encompass education, culture and the sciences, in full respect of human rights.

Let us join forces to reaffirm our determination to make universal human rights a common standard of achievement for all, a reality for everyone.

Thai soldiers again accused of shooting dead Cambodian logger

Dec 11, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh - Thai troops shot dead a Cambodian man who crossed into Thailand to fell trees illegally, local media reported Friday.

Phlok Lai, 55, is the third Cambodian national to be shot and killed by Thai troops in the past three months.

District police chief Keo Tann said another man in the group of 10 was seriously injured while a third is missing after the incident late Tuesday. The remaining seven made it back safely to Cambodia.

'The Thai officers at the border said they would find the missing man if we ordered people to refrain from going to Thailand to log illegally,' Keo Tann told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

Earlier this month a Cambodian man was shot dead by Thai soldiers while illegally logging inside Thailand. In the most notorious case Thai soldiers were accused of shooting and then burning alive a 16-year-old Cambodian youth in September. Thailand denied the youth was burned alive.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong described the Thai soldiers' behaviour as 'very cruel.'

'In previous years the Thai military would just arrest our people who were illegally crossing the border and sentence them to jail,' he said. 'But now they are shooting our people.'

Earlier this week the Cambodian government warned its citizens living along the 800-kilometre long border, much of which has yet to be officially demarcated, to avoid crossing the border into Thailand.

The shootings come at a time of heightened tensions between the two nations. Both withdrew their ambassadors last month after Cambodia appointed Thailand's fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser to the Cambodian government.

Cambodia and Thailand also have a long-standing dispute over the land surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple in northern Cambodia. Over the past 18 months clashes between troops at Preah Vihear have cost the lives of at least seven soldiers.

Thai spy pardoned in Cambodia


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia's king pardoned a Thai man Friday who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for spying on Thailand's fugitive ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a case that soured relations between the neighbors.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thai national Siwarak Chothipong would be released from prison Monday following his pardon by King Norodom Sihamoni.

The conviction Tuesday in the capital of Phnom Penh followed Cambodia's decision last month to name Thaksin, a fugitive from justice in Thailand, as its special economic adviser. The appointment and Thaksin's subsequent visit to Cambodia angered the government in Bangkok and resulted in a recall of ambassadors from both sides.

Kanharith said Siwarak's formal release would take place during a visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen by the prisoner's mother and members of a Thai political party loyal to Thaksin.

Siwarak, an employee of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, which manages flights in the country, was accused of stealing Thaksin's flight schedule before his Nov. 10 arrival and sending it to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh. Thaksin stayed five days, getting red-carpet treatment as he talked to Cambodian economists.

Siwarak, 31, was arrested Nov. 12 and charged with stealing information that could impact national security.

Municipal Court Judge Ke Sakhan ruled that Thaksin's flight information was confidential and sharing it was a breach of security protocol for dignitaries.

Siwarak acknowledged earlier in court that he saw the flight schedule and passed the details on to Thai embassy First Secretary Kamrob Palawatwichai who was later expelled from the country. But he denied stealing the document.

Thaksin went into self-imposed exile last year before a Thai court found him guilty of violating a conflict of interest law and sentenced him to two years in prison. He had served as prime minister from 2001 to 2006, when he was ousted in a military coup after being accused of corruption and showing disrespect to the monarchy.

Thaksin's supporters and opponents have repeatedly taken to the streets since then to spar over who has the right to rule the country, sometimes sparking violence.

Thaksin's visit to Cambodia led to allegations he was trying to ignite a new political crisis from across the border.

Critics, including Thailand's government, have portrayed Thaksin as a traitor for accepting the Cambodian appointment and have lambasted Cambodia for hosting him while he is a fugitive. Relations have already been roiled by several deadly skirmishes over the past year and a half over land surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian Monarch Pardons Thai Held as Spy

Published: December 11, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK — Defusing the latest minicrisis in an increasingly tense and unfriendly relationship between neighboring countries, the king of Cambodia pardoned a Thai man Friday who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for spying.

The spying sentence grew out of a spat touched off by Thailand’s fugitive former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, when he appeared in Cambodia last month as a guest of the government. That visit appeared to serve dual purposes for Mr. Thaksin, whose supporters continue to hold rallies calling for his return, and for Mr. Thaksin’s host, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, who has been feuding with Thailand’s current government.

Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, has been traveling the world since early last year to avoid arrest on a conviction for corruption. By inviting him to visit as an “economic adviser,” and by refusing a request to extradite him, Mr. Hun Sen seemed to be taunting his counterparts in Thailand.

Mr. Hun Sen’s spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said the Thai man, Siwarak Chutipongse, 31, would be handed over Monday in Phnom Penh by Mr. Hun Sen to his mother and to representatives of Thailand’s pro-Thaksin opposition party, Puea Thai.

King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia is largely a figurehead as monarch, and his pardon was clearly part of Mr. Hun Sen’s policy.

Mr. Sirawak is an employee of a Thai flight services company in Phnom Penh and was convicted of spying on Tuesday after passing on flight details of Mr. Thaksin’s arrival on Nov. 10 to Thai diplomats. Mr. Thaksin remained in Cambodia for five days before leaving again for the undisclosed location where he has spent the past month.

“Thaksin is an adviser to Cambodia’s government, and Cambodia has the obligation to provide him security,” said Judge Ke Sakhan of Municipal Court in sentencing Mr. Siwarak. Mr. Siwarak said in court that he had seen the flight schedule and passed on the information to a Thai diplomat, First Secretary Kamrob Palawatwichai, who was later expelled from the country. But Mr. Siwarak denied stealing the document.

In the tense diplomatic atmosphere between the nations, his arrest and conviction have been treated as major news on both sides of the border. After Mr. Thaksin’s visit, both nations recalled their ambassadors and threatened economic sanctions on each other.

The friction appears in part to be personal, with the tough former Khmer Rouge soldier, Mr. Hun Sen, clearly at odds with Thailand’s Eton-and-Oxford educated prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.

“I’m not the enemy of the Thai people,” Mr. Hun Sen said after Mr. Siwarak was arrested. “But the prime minister and the foreign minister, these two people look down on Cambodia. Cambodia will have no happiness as long as this group is in power in Thailand.” He called on Cambodian government institutions to review bilateral agreements “so that we will not owe any favors to Abhisit and their government.”

Apparently addressing Mr. Abhisit, he added, “We may be poor, but we would rather shed our blood than let you look down on us.”

Although the situation has eased in recent months, blood has in fact been shed in brief skirmishes along the border where the two nations have posted troops near a disputed 11th-century temple, Preah Vihear.

Mr. Abhisit made a characteristically low-key response to Mr. Hun Sen’s remarks, saying Thailand did not plan to cancel any of its contracts with Cambodia and that “if Mr. Hun Sen refuses to receive any aid or cooperation from Thailand, the decision is his own.”

For his part, Mr. Thaksin addressed about 17,000 supporters Thursday evening in his latest video speech from an undisclosed location, continuing his campaign to undermine the government and maintain his domestic power base. “Return democracy to the people, return wealth to the people and dignity to the country,” he said in a familiar rallying cry.

Genocide survivor speaks about survival

Nashoba Publishing/John Love Syphorn Phan talks to students at Groton-Dunstable Middle School on Monday about his experiences in his home country of Cambodia in the early 1970s

By Pierre Comtois, Correspondent
Posted: 12/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

GROTON -- Students at the Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School received a lesson in courage and faith last Monday when a survivor of Cambodia's infamous "killing fields" came to speak to them about his experiences living under the regime of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.

"The only way to survive was to be strong," Syphorn Phan told a group of students that filled the lecture hall at the Middle School North building. "You had to be mentally, physically and spiritually strong."

Phan, a pharmacist at Lowell General Hospital's oncology unit, was only a boy in 1975 when the communist Khmer Rouge overthrew the U.S. backed government of Cambodia and under Pol Pot, proceeded with its plan to take the country back to its agrarian past.

"The story of my survival and coming to America has always been with me so it's not difficult to tell," said Phan of any hesitance to revisit those dark days when death was always near at hand. "I just relate my experiences as they happened. But with young children, I've found that it's a good idea to bring along some slides to give them a better idea of what it was like in those days. As disturbing as the truth was, sometimes it's good for them to know the facts."

And the facts of Phan's story of survival were incredible and horrible.

Soon after the United States abandoned Vietnam in 1975, communists there and in Cambodia were left with no one to oppose them. The governments in South Vietnam and Cambodia were soon overthrown

after the Khmer Rouge emerged from their stronghold in the highlands through which ran the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Though frequently warned that if the communists succeeded, there would be a bloodbath in Southeast Asia, no one at the time could have foreseen just what that would mean under the Khmer Rouge. According to Phan's firsthand account, he and his family joined the entire population of the country's capital in Pnom Penh as their new rulers forcibly evicted them from the city.

With no plan to support the people once they obeyed orders to leave the cities, hundreds of thousands were fated to die lingering deaths of malnutrition and exposure in the surrounding jungles over the next few years. Others were literally worked to death in what Phan said was a deliberate attempt at genocide by the Khmer Rouge.

In the jungle, people were forced at gunpoint to break up into work gangs and Phan soon found himself separated from his family as his gang was sent into the jungle to work. There, little food was to be had as he and others were forced to scramble to find whatever they could to eat, including rats. Unable to bring himself to eat a rat, Phan risked his life using a forbidden campfire to cook rice that he buried in a cloth sack underneath the flames.

With no medical supplies, any kind of accident could prove life threatening, such as the times when the young Phan nearly died after he stepped on a fish hook or was ordered to collect honey from wild bees that ended up stinging him hundreds of times in a chase through the jungle.

In the end, he was only one of two members of his original work gang to survive and by 1979, found himself imprisoned and jammed with hundreds of others in an abandoned school building. He managed to escape forced labor only after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and, evading crossfire between the warring armies, finally reunited with his mother and two brothers and together, they crossed the jungle reached the border with Thailand.

Safe in a Red Cross refugee camp, Phan relearned the English and his family eventually applied for immigrant status to the United States.

Throughout his ordeal, Phan told students last Monday, it had been his dream to come to the United States. The dream had kept him going when all seemed hopeless and in 1981, when he finally arrived at Boston's Logan Airport, the first thing he did was to get on his knees and thank God for his safe arrival.

Later, he returned to school and graduated from college with high marks as a pharmacist, got married and today has a pair of young sons of his own.

"Dreams do come true," Phan concluded as students peppered him with questions about his experiences.

"I thought it was amazing what he went through," said 10th- grader Drew Gentile. "It was just a pretty sad story but he finally made it to America and became successful. He was right when he said that dreams do come true."

"I was just thinking about how he made it through all that," reflected fifth-grader Jacob Llodra. "It was probably the hardest time in his life... It makes me realize how much of a lucky guy I am (to live in the United States)."

Phan was invited to speak at the Middle School by members of the Peace Foundation and the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club after some had seen an article on him in The Sun.

"I was just so touched by his story," explained board member Jayne Kulisz. "Not only about how he survived in the jungle but his message that education was a great part in his resettlement story. It was an important message for the kids to hear."

"I think it's an honor to have him here, sharing with us his wonderful memories of those times," commented Middle School principal Steve Silverman. "It fits in well with the students' work on their Peace Book."

"I thought his story was just awesome," concluded fifth- grader Kira Hill. "How he lived through it with the help of friends... His whole story was just so cool."

Rise in visitors to Cambodia masks decline in air arrivals

By May Kunmakara | Dec 10, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Visitor numbers climbed slightly in October compared to the same month last year, but a rise in the number of tourists and businesspeople arriving by land and sea from neighboring countries again masked a large decline in the number of arrivals by air, tourism ministry figures show.

Image via

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) President Ang Kim Eang said the continued decline in long-haul visitors from Europe, the United States, and east Asia was worrying, as visitors from neighboring countries bring less money into the sector.

“We see that most visitors now are from the region, especially Vietnam, and they don’t spend as much on their trip or stay as long as tourists from further afield, such as Europe,” he said.

CATA studies have shown that visitors from Europe tend to spend a week or more in the country, whereas those from Laos and Vietnam spend three days and less money on average.

The ministry recorded that 157,105 people visited Cambodia in October, up 0.25 percent from October 2008, the month in which visitors to the kingdom began declining as a result of the global financial crisis after several years of steady month-on-month growth.

However, just 85,671 people arrived by air in October, down 8 percent from 93,175 air arrivals in the same month last year. Air arrivals have fallen 12.51 percent over the first 10 months of the year to 889,278.

Up to the end of October 1,731,045 people visited the kingdom, up 1.55 percent on the first 10 months of 2008.

Arrivals from Vietnam climbed 67.26 percent year-on-year to 27,558 in October, and represent 17.54 percent of all arrivals, whereas visitors from South Korea fell 44.34 percent to 10,274. South Korea is now the sixth-largest source of visitors to Cambodia after leading the list a year ago – a sign of how much air traffic has been affected by the global economic crisis.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Statistics and Tourism Information Department at the Ministry of Tourism, acknowledged the drop in arrivals by air and said the government’s decision to offer visa exemptions to regional neighbors had gone some way towards offsetting the losses by encouraging regional tourism.


He said he hopes that a planned expansion of international routes flown by the new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air will go some way to boosting tourism arrivals by air. He also said he anticipated that a recovery in tourism arrivals in November and December would see the country post a full-year increase in visitors of between 2 and 3 percent.

Arrivals during October this year were down 1.95 percent compared with the same month in 2007, a peak year for Cambodian tourism during which the country hosted more than 2 million visitors for the first time, the figures show.

Asian politicians adopt Angkor Initiative for Stability, Peace and Prosperity in Asia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The two-day international seminar on "social market economy", which was joined by the representatives of Asian political parties, ended Friday with the adoption of the "Angkor Initiative for Stability, Peace and Prosperity, a Centrist Model for Asia."

The two-day seminar, co-chaired by Cambodia and Pakistan, were attended by the 16 representatives of the Asian political parties and top political figures of the ruling parties from Asia including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines.

This Angkor Initiative covered three components: economy, politics, and peace through reconciliation in post-conflict situation, according to the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

"This Initiative has particular relevance for Northeast Asia, Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia, which remain mired in internecine conflicts and tension," said the joint statement signed by the Co-chairmen of the International seminar and CDI (the Centrist Democrat International) -Asia Pacific Secretariat.

Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Member of the Standing Committee of the Cambodian People's Party and also Vice-President of CDI- Asia Pacific since 2006, said "social market economy is an emerging economic system in Asia widely embraced by prominent political figures."

"This presents a middle path for the future promotion of stability and prosperity since the social market economy connects with the society as a whole and aimed at promoting the well-being of all individuals," Sok An, also minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, said at the closing seminar.

"We have learned from the bitter lessons of the current global economic crisis. Its negative impact on the global economy and society will linger on for many years to come," he said.

"It is crucial for all leaders of Asian political parties to seek to better understand and consider the endorsement of the 'social market economy' concept, which has been widely discussed," said Sok An.

The Angkor Initiative agreed to establish a working group, which will implement this vision, prepares an agenda and plan of action for a CDI conference of all continents which will convene in Cambodia in July, 2010 to endorse, promote and implement this Initiative.

The two-day seminar focused on exchanging views and experiences on social market economy to find a suitable policy, which could be applied for their own national strategy.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Critical Tribunal Components Now Being Tested

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
11 December 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Events of recent weeks have called into question what observers say are the necessary components for success at the Khmer Rouge tribunal: independence of the court and the full cooperation of the government.

The UN-backed court has stumbled over the issue of five additional indictments, while six government officials within the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have refused to appear as summoned by an investigating judge.

Investigating judges are examining the tribunal’s second case, of leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, following a wrap-up last month of the atrocity crimes trial for Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch.

“If the Cambodian government refuses to cooperate with the court, the UN side will have no other choice than to withdraw from the trial, or lose face and credibility,” said Peter Maguire, author of the 2005 book, “Facing Death in Cambodia.”

“There are limits to the Cambodian government’s patience and willingness to cooperate,” he said, and the tribunal “is testing them.”

Investigating judge Marcel Lemonde has issued summonses to six leaders: Senate President Chea Sim, who is also president of the CPP; National Assembly President Heng Samrin, the honorary president of the party; Finance Minister Keat Chhon; Foreign Minister Hor Namhong; and two CPP senators, Sim Ka and Ouk Bun Chhoeun.

None has complied with the court order, which calls them to be witnesses in the upcoming case, No. 002.

Ouk Bun Chhoeun declined to be interviewed for this story, while the other five witnesses could not be reached for comment. Spokesmen have said in the past their appearance could create bias in the court, as they had fought the Khmer Rouge after its ouster, in 1979.

The office of the investigating judges is also grappling with the question of five more indictments, with a list of suspects handed up by a UN prosecutor earlier this year that prompted a decision split along national and international lines within the court’s pre-trial judges.

Three international judges overruled two Cambodia judges to send the indictments to investigating judges, after Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang moved to block the motion of her counterpart, Robert Petit, who has since left the court.

In her arguments, Chea Leang echoed concerns stated by Prime Minister Hun Sen: that further indictments could destabilize the country.

Hun Sen, helped end fighting with the Khmer Rouge in the 1990s with promises of amnesty, has not relented in his public arguments against more indictments. Last week, he warned the public to “evaluate this matter.”

“Don’t just play one corner, which is death,” he said. “And if 100,000 and 200,000 people die again because of war, who will call the Khmer Rouge, calling people out of the jungle again? I am old. When I called our brothers to come out of the jungle, I was not even 50 years old. Now I’m almost 60. There is no person to call them out any more.”

To indict more cadre, “calling them out and playing like this,” he said, was dangerous.

“Hey, some of the senior leaders, try them,” he said. “That’s not the issue. But to come and threaten.... Sooner or later they will arrest you. Then it’s fear. No way. I’m sorry to tell you that I would rather let the court fail than allow the country to have war.”

Large questions now loom over the five indictments. Without the cooperation of the government—and the police—how can they be arrested? Is Cambodian investigating judge You Bunleang participating in the investigation? And if he doesn’t, how can it proceed?

These are questions of cooperation, highlighting the delicate nature of the court’s establishment, which only happened after years of wrangling between the UN and Cambodia.

Long Panhavuth, a project officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, a US-based monitor of the tribunal, said the court should be able to function for its own benefit, in accordance with laws and agreements, including arrests, investigation and prosecution.

Having signed on for the court, the Cambodian government must now step back and let the judges decide what is best, he said.

“So if the government…says to witnesses that they should not testify, then the government’s credibility is involved and won’t be clean,” he said.

On the other hand, judges must decide how necessary any given witness is, he said.

Given Hun Sen’s open remarks against further indictments, and the refusal his party members to cooperate with the investigation, OSJI reported in November that political interference was hurting the court’s credibility.

OSJI’s executive director, James Goldstone, told VOA Khmer recently the UN and the donors will have to soon address the issue. The lack of full government cooperation, he said, “would be a very bad signal and a very bad indication of the court’s independence.”

Defense teams, meanwhile, have seized on events, claiming that the court’s proceedings—and fair trials for their clients—have been jeopardized.

Nuon Chea’s lawyers have argued that Hun Sen’s speeches are threats to potential witnesses for the defense, requesting the court to officially investigate.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Hun Sen’s speeches were expressions of the prime minister’s opinion, but they did not mean the court’s judges couldn’t do their jobs.

“They need to respect what is the official legal procedure of the Khmer Rouge court,” he said. “They can’t do wrong from that.”

Not all will be persuaded by that logic.

Chanly Kuch, who has watched the trial from his home in Maryland, said he so far thought the UN would bring the court to international standards, but he called Hun Sen’s public warnings a political issue.

“I also want to know, where are the Khmer Rouge that [Hun Sen] has said will break out in war at the calling of five more [indictments],” he said. “We want to see. And we want to know, who is the Khmer Rouge? And where are they? And if we know that they still exist, why don’t we arrest them all and try them additionally?”

There are other questions as to how far UN and Cambodian cooperation will carry the court.

“I understand that the UN repeatedly believes in the government, that the government has the intention to make this succeed,” said OSJI’s Long Panhavuth. “With such a stand on political goodwill, the UN can negotiate with the government and make this succeed, because both the UN and the government have the same common direction.”

Peter Taksoe-Jensen, UN Assistant Secretary-General for legal affairs, who has traveled back and forth from Cambodia negotiating over the tribunal, said cooperation has improved.

“I just visited Cambodia a couple weeks ago, and my impression is that there has been very, very significant improvement” in cooperation, Taksoe-Jensen said by phone from New York. “It is running very, very smoothly now in the court.”

The question of six CPP witnesses will have to be decided within the Cambodian government, he said, adding that atrocity crimes courts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda dealt with the same questions.

As to the five further indictments, Taksoe-Jensen said he expected the case, No. 003, to continue. “I also expect that the Cambodian government will full cooperate in that.”

Spokesman Phay Siphan said the two sides were cooperating to strengthen administration of the court, to ensure “transparency and effectiveness of the work.”

However, Maguire, the author, was critical of the UN’s efforts—and autonomy.

During the Untac period of the 1990s, “even when the UN had thousands of soldiers in Cambodia, their leadership did not have the political will to use them effectively,” he said. “Today, the UN are paper tigers without teeth and claws, and totally dependent on the Cambodian government to carry out their orders.”

Yap Kim Tung, president of the US-based group Cambodian-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy, said the UN may go soft on Cambodia in order to see the court move forward, to see leaders go to trial before they die.

That, he said, has some value.

“The Cambodian court seems to give no justice, and people mostly know it,” he said. “So if there is participation of an international team that gives more value to the courts, and there is confidence that this court will try and give more justice than the local courts, that’s what Cambodia is trying, and that’s why people believe in this court’s value.”