Friday, 25 February 2011

UN expert stresses need to ensure freedom of expression in Cambodia

Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

via CAAI

An independent United Nations expert today voiced his concern about the use of the crime of incitement against human rights defenders in Cambodia, while stressing the need to ensure that people can express their views peacefully and without fear.
“Criticism is not a crime but an exercise of freedom of conscience, an act of intelligence,” Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, said at the end of his fourth fact-finding mission to the country.

“There is a narrowing of space for people to express their views peacefully and without fear, including those belonging to different political parties,” he warned. “The peaceful expression of opinion should not be dealt with under the Penal Code as is currently the case with crimes such as defamation and falsification of information.”

The 15 to 24 February visit focused on the capacity of parliament to uphold the rights of the people and democratic norms.

“Democracy is not only about holding periodic elections, but developing a culture of debate, pluralism and participation. A properly functioning democracy requires an effective opposition,” said the expert, who reports in an independent and unpaid capacity to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

Mr. Subedi welcomed efforts taken by the Government to improve the situation of human rights, including those related to the judiciary, land rights and housing issues, preventing torture, and peaceful demonstrations.

He will submit his full report to the Human Rights Council later this year.

Asean observers await their orders

via CAAI

Published: 25/02/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Indonesia has yet to arrange with Thailand and Cambodia the deployment and scope of authority of its observers who are to visit the disputed border area.

A senior source in the Thai army yesterday said Indonesia planned to send 30 observers but their deployment in Thailand and Cambodia had yet to be finalised.

The source said Indonesia might deploy 15 observers each in Thailand and Cambodia. Alternatively, 11 military observers would be fielded in Thailand and Cambodia.

Three other military officers would supervise the observation in the two countries and five non-military observers would coordinate their mission.

Indonesian authorities will soon discuss the scope of the observation mission with Thai and Cambodian defence ministers.

The deployment will be similar to that of observers in Aceh in Indonesia, but their authority would not be as great because the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia was smaller.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will meet Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and senior officers from the Defence Ministry this afternoon to discuss the scope of work and procedures for the Indonesian observers.

Gen Prayuth said the details had to be clear and documented and be coordinated with Cambodia.

The US has welcomed Asean's efforts to resolve the deadly border dispute.

State Department spokesman PJCrowley said on Wednesday the US also supported the Asean foreign ministers' call for Cambodia and Thailand to resume bilateral negotiations "at the earliest opportunity".

Also in relation to the border, Democrat Party MP Atthawich Suwanphadi yesterday said a joint house committee deliberating the minutes of the past three meetings of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission had agreed that the documents contained no wording that showed Thailand had recognised a French 1:200,000 scale map.

Agreement on the documents was reached at meetings in Siem Reap in November 2008, in Bangkok in February 2009 and in Phnom Penh in April 2009.

The documents involved a decision by Thailand and Cambodia to survey border areas, including those near the Preah Vihear temple, and to start to make aerial maps of the border.

Mr Atthawich, spokesman of the house committee, said the panel also disapproved of a comment made by Var Kim Hong of Cambodia, co-chairman of the JBC, during one of the meetings that "Thailand invaded Cambodia".

Var Kim Hong made the remark citing the 1:200,000 scale map, he said.

He said the comment was not in line with the facts and the committee would forward its recommendation to Asda Jayanama, who co-chairs the JBC, to contest what Var Kim Hong had said at the next JBC meeting.

Mr Atthawich said the committee had not decided whether to approve the JBC minutes but it would submit its recommendation on the issue to parliament for consideration.

He said if the House endorsed the documents, it would not mean parliament accepted Var Kim Hong's remark. It would only approve the substance of the documents.

The constitution requires parliament to approve agreements that have an impact on Thai territory.

Mr Atthawich said the committee had also agreed that the memorandum of understanding signed with Cambodia in 2000 had been useful in bringing about bilateral negotiations between the two countries.

The committee stressed the need for the government to hold bilateral talks with Cambodia under the framework of the memorandum and evacuate civilians and soldiers from the two sides of the disputed area claimed by the two countries so the JBC could go ahead and complete the demarcation work.

Cambodian evacuees return home ahead of observers' arrival

via CAAI

February 25, 2011

Ninety percent of the 2,686 remaining families evacuated from the deadly clashes on Feb. 4-7 between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border disputed areas near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple have returned home on Friday morning amid fears of further clashes ahead of the arrival of Indonesian observers.

"Ninety percent of the 2,686 remaining evacuated families left the camp for their houses on Friday morning and the rest would be returned this afternoon or tomorrow," Nhim Vanda, the first vice- president of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, who visited the camp on Friday, told Xinhua by telephone.

"There will be no more clashes as both sides have reached a ceasefire and Indonesian observers will come soon," he said.

However, some returnees said Friday that they still fears ahead of the arrival of the observers.

"My family returned home this Friday morning," said Huot Kimheng, 53, the father of 5, living in Preah Vihear Thor village, some 18 kilometers from Preah Vihear temple.

"We are still deeply concern over our safety when we arrived home because some soldiers told me that Thai army has still added troops to their border side near the disputed area," he said. "We' re worried that clashes can burst out any time before the arrival of Indonesian observers."

He said that soldiers told him that the observers will probably be sent to the area on Mar. 4, and some said on March 12.

Kim Var, 31, the father of a two-year-old daughter, whose family returned home on Friday morning, said that Cambodian officials has informed all evacuees to return home from Friday as they said that the situation was better and the observers would be come soon.

"We're still scare, but have no choice, it's our home," he said.

Thirty Indonesian observers will be dispatched to the border disputed area near Preah Vihear temple to monitor the ceasefire.

The dispatch of observers was made following the invitations of Cambodia and Thailand in the informal foreign ministers' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb. 22.

Koy Kuong, the spokesman for Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on Friday could not confirm when the observers will be dispatched to the disputed area. "It was still unknown when they will arrive," he said.

Contacting on Friday morning, a brigadier general Thul Sovan, deputy commander of Cambodian Military Division 3, stationed at the frontline near Preah Vihear temple, said the situation was calm: "not tense, but not eased."

"It's still fragile as the military confrontation still continues, we observed that since last night, Thai army has trucked more ammunition to their border side near the disputed areas," he said by telephone.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Although the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Temple of Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, the row over the 4.6-square-km territory around the temple has never been resolved.

The conflict has occurred just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, since then both sides have built up military forces along the border, and periodic clashes happened, resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

The latest clashes on Feb. 4-7, unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border, had killed and wounded many soldiers and citizens of both sides, and caused tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fleeing for safe shelters.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Thailand To Maintain Soldiers In Thai-Cambodian Disputed Areas

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Feb 25 (TNA) -- Thai Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan affirmed on Friday that the Thai government has no policy to withdraw Thai soldiers from contentious areas along the Thai-Cambodian border.

General Prawit insisted that he has never proposed any withdrawal of Thai troops from the disputed border areas, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

The Thai defence minister said that he would then discuss with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on how Indonesian observers would supervise the Thai-Cambodian border situation--before consulting with the Thai military.

General Prawit insisted that the arrival of the Indonesian observers soon is not considered an intervention with Thailand's internal affairs as they would only monitor the situation, and that Thai authorities would take care of their stay.

The Thai defence minister acknowledged that the development was in line with Thailand's stance on advocating bilateral negotiations with Cambodia to resolve unsettled border issues, and that the Thai government has no problems with the United Nations Security Council's recent resolution calling for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to supervise the bilateral talks between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia appeals ICJ to clarify verdict on disputed temple

via CAAI


The Cambodian government on February 24 officially asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to explain the Hague’s verdict in 1962 on the sovereignty of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

The Cambodian news agency AKP quoted Prime Minister Hun Sen as saying that the country officially sent its proposal together with all relevant documents to the ICJ, appealing this organ to clarify the 1962 verdict that recognises Cambodia’s sovereignty on the Preah Vihear temple.

Earlier, PM Hun Sen said that Cambodia would obey the ICJ’s decision and suggested Thailand respect the decision.

According to the Cambodian government leader, the Cambodia-Thailand conflict can not end with a ceasefire order or observers from the third side which may just ease tension while awaiting for a comprehensive solution for the two countries’ border area.

Cambodian newspapers on February 24 cited the US State Department’s statement applauding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s efforts in addressing the current severe border dispute between the two nations.

ASEAN will send Indonesian observers to the area near the disputed temple to monitor the ceasefire.

On February 23, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that the country will not withdraw any troop from the border area with Cambodia despite the presence of the Indonesian observers.

Cambodian court upholds conviction of Khmer Rouge killers of British mine-clearing expert

via CAAI

By The Associated Press (CP)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A Cambodian appeals court has upheld the 2008 conviction of four former Khmer Rouge rebels for involvement in the kidnap-murder of a British mine-clearing expert and a colleague 15 years ago.

Prosecutor Pan Kim Leang says the court on Thursday upheld 20-year prison sentences for three of the men for premeditated murder and illegal confinement. It also upheld a 10-year sentence for the fourth man for involvement in the early stages of the abductions.

Christopher Howes and Cambodian co-worker Houn Hourth were abducted by Khmer Rouge rebels in March 1996 while clearing mines near Angkor Wat, the 12th century temple complex in northwestern Cambodia.

Cambodia Receives Cautions against Bird Flu

via CAAI

The death toll 1 in Cambodia has risen due to bird flu. The country has received warning from the disease experts of United Nations. They have cautioned that increased globalization has resulted in the spread of disease from animals to humans.

Dr. Subhash Morzaria, the Regional Manager of the UN Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, has informed that increased deforestation, high population of domestic animals for food consumption, high human population, and the farming systems are the main reasons behind the increased risk of disease.

He told that the people are making themselves more prone to the risk of the disease by coming in contact with the animals. The contact of different animals increases the chances of transfer of pathogens from species to another.

The disease has spread in the country due to wild birds which means that the wild birds are highly infected with pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as H5N1 virus.

The disease has also re-emerged in a developed nation like Japan which is a matter of concern. It may pose threat to the health of the workers.

Dr. Morzaria told that the main cause of disease transmission is raising and trading poultry and it could be prevented by the joint efforts of the governments.

FM: Unesco visit ‘good for Thailand’

via CAAI

Published: 25/02/2011

The visit to Thailand by the special envoy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) today will be beneficial to the country, foreign affairs spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry will take this opportunity to provide the envoy with the facts relating to the recent border clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops, said Mr Thani, the director-general of the Department of Information at the ministry.

He said the special envoy on Preah Vihear temple for Unesco, Koïchiro Matsuura, will not be allowed to visit the clash sites in Si Sa Ket border province as it is not appropriate at this time.

Mr Thani excpected Mr Matsuura will later travel to Cambodia.

“But he will visit only Phnom Penh and will not go to the disputed border area,” he said.

He did not think the visit by the special envoy of Unesco amounted to interference in Thailand’s internal affairs.

Mr Matsuura arrived in Bangkok on Thursday night and will have discussions with Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Natural Resources and Environment minister Suvit Khunkitti this afternoon.

UNESCO envoy's visit beneficial to Thailand

via CAAI

February 25, 2011

Thailand's Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said on Friday that the visit of UNESCO special envoy Koichiro Matsuura to both Thailand and Cambodia will be advantageous for Thailand as the country will have chance to explain facts.

Thani said, however, it's not yet an appropriate time for the special envoy to travel to the border area.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) special envoy on the Preah Vihear temple Koichiro Matsuura arrived in Bangkok on Thursday night and will have discussions with Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti at 15.30 p.m. local time before meeting with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at 17.00 p.m.

Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former chairman of the World Heritage Committee (1999), was appointed by director-general Irina Bokova to discuss with Thailand and Cambodia measures to safeguard the temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 2008.

The three-member UNESCO delegation will fly to Phnom Penh on Sunday for talks with Cambodian officials on ways of reducing tension and promoting dialogue around the preservation of the temple.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman believes the special envoy will stay in Phom Penh and not go to visit the Hindu temple or border areas.

Responding to Thailand's Joint Boundary Commission chairman earlier remarks that the visit of UNESCO delegation is premature and not appropriate since the demarcation process is not yet completed, Thani said that the visit is beneficial to Thailand and should not be considered as an intervention.

The deadly border-clashes between Thailand and Cambodia during Feb. 4-7 around the contentious Preah Vihear temple slightly caused damage the 11th-century temple.

The UNESCO issued a statement early this week saying that the "temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its outstanding universal value in keeping with the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which has been ratified by both Cambodia and Thailand."

Source: Xinhua

Envoy urges quicker reform

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
UN Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi speaks at a press conference held at the OHCHR office in Phnom Penh yesterday.

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:03 Thomas Miller

Surya Subedi, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights, said he was encouraged after a 10-day fact-finding visit to the Kingdom, but urged the government to hasten reforms in a number of areas.

Subedi focused his fourth trip to Cambodia on parliament, saying that the peace process set in motion by the Paris Peace Accords “cannot be regarded as complete until the democratic institutions created under the Constitution are able to work effectively and independently”.

Subedi said he was “encouraged by the realisation on the part of the government” that there is a need to address problems in the judiciary, the issue of freedom of expression and with the numerous land disputes across the country.

In a sign that Subedi has retained a measure of goodwill from the government, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan characterised the visit as “very fruitful” and the relationship between the special rapporteur and the government as a “partnership”.

“We shared with him [that] we understand the concern about the judiciary system,” Phay Siphan said. “The government already [stated] its own concern already, but we need time for people to understand the law, implement the law and enforce the law.”

Nevertheless Subedi expressed particular concern for issues related to land and housing, freedom of expression and the overall process of democratic reform.

“One of the messages that I have been trying to convey for some time is to accelerate the process of reform and the democratisation process.”

Subedi urged the government to completely decriminalise defamation and falsification of information. “Criticism is not a crime but an exercise of freedom of conscience, an act of intelligence,” he said.

He also said he was concerned “by the use of the crime of incitement against human rights defenders”, a charge that has been brought in multiple land disputes.

Subedi said the draft NGO law was unnecessary based on his review of current laws. “Strictly speaking as a lawyer, a new law is not legally required,” he said, echoing concerns raised by donors and NGOs.

He said however it was the government’s prerogative to pass legislation, and urged them to consult widely and bring the law in line with international human rights obligations.

“That should be a matter for debate and dialogue and consultation and I hope that the Ministry of Interior will engage in wider consultation to make sure that the law conforms to international standards.”

Subedi defended the local Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which the government said it would close when its mandate expires at the end of the year.

“Many of my government interlocutors have said to me that they value and appreciate the work the office is doing,” he said.

Protesters spar with police in Pursat

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:03 May Titthara

One woman was injured and another fell unconscious yesterday when villagers protesting against a casino development in Pursat province clashed with police and company officials, local residents said.

MDS, a local firm owned by tycoon Try Pheap, is in the process of developing the site, located near the Thai border in Pursat’s Veal Veng district. Villagers and company officials also locked horns last month when MDS officials attempted to clear land in the area.

It is not clear how many families the development will affect, though villagers claim 13 homes and rice fields belonging to 84 families will be engulfed by the project.

Yesterday, about 15 villagers attempted to block a company excavator from

continuing to clear land for the project. Police, military police and local officials subsequently intervened, dragging 22-year-old Seng Thea, who is eight months pregnant, out of the path of the excavator and injuring her in the process, villagers said.

“I stood in front of the excavator, but five police dragged me away and pushed me onto the ground,” said Seng Thea, who was recovering at a health centre in Veal Veng’s Thma Da oeung commune.

Meoung Pov, 45, fainted at the scene and was also taken to the health centre for treatment, fellow Thma Da resident Sam Mao said.

MDS officials could not be reached for comment.

Thma Da Commune Chief Prum Ngorn denied that local officials had used

violence in subduing the protesters, claiming that police had only been dispatched to protect company staff.

“The villagers have lived there a long time without land titles, but now the state needs to develop the land by renting it to the company, so all the villagers have to move out,” he said. Negotiations between the company and local residents had failed thus far because the residents had demanded the unreasonable sum of US$50,000 per hectare of land.

Pursat provincial governor Khouy Sokha said the government would attempt to find replacement plots of land for any villagers displaced by the project, though he acknowledged that contingency plans had not yet been formulated.

“It is a very difficult issue because that land is an economic land concession,” he said.

Sentence passed on RCAF imposter

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:03 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

A construction company owner was sentenced yesterday to a two-year prison term and fined 5 million riels in Phnom Penh Municipal Court for using a fake Royal Cambodian Armed Forces rank and military uniform to promote his business.

Tho Chiva, 49, owner of the Moham Sal Construction Company, was charged with falsely using the rank of major in the Ministry of National Defense in 2002, according to Duch Kimsorn, presiding judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

He added that Tho Chiva was charged following a complaint from Touch Bora, 45, an engineer and colleague, who sued him after he claimed that Tho Chiva threatened to kill him over a personal dispute in 2009.

“Tho Chiva is a construction businessman but he has used a fake RCAF military position and the rank of major for doing his own business activities,” Duch Kimsorn said.

“He has also used his fake military position in threatening to murder Touch Bora who got in an argument with him. Therefore, the court decided to sentence him to two years’ imprisonment and fined him 5 million riels (US$1,237),” Duch Kimsorn said.

He added that the court will continue to investigate a military general who allegedly sold the fake rank to him in order to bring him to justice.

Tho Chiva was not present at the sentencing yesterday but in a January hearing denied all charges against him and claimed he did not know his rank was not genuine and that he never received military payment.

Bilateral border talks held with Vietnam

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:03 Vong Sokheng

As tension over the Kingdom’s western border continues to simmer following clashes between Cambodian and Thai forces earlier this month, attention turned to the east yesterday with a meeting of officials from Vietnam and Cambodia’s bilateral Joint Border Committee.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, joined Vietnamese deputy foreign minister and JBC co-chairman Ho Xuan Son yesterday at the Council of Ministers to discuss the countries’ demarcation progress from 2010 and plan additional efforts for this year.

Last year, the countries agreed on 155 kilometres worth of demarcation, or roughly 31 percent of their boundary, Var Kimhong said yesterday, adding that demarcation was 66 percent complete overall.

“We hope that the process will be complete by 2012 according to our goal,” Var Kimhong said yesterday.

The Danish firm BLOM Geomatics AS was awarded a US$1.5 million contract to map the Cambodian-Vietnamese border following a competitive bidding process last year.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard the case of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two villagers from Svay Rieng province who were arrested in 2009 after a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment along the border in which they uprooted demarcation posts. The two villagers were found guilty of destruction of public property and jailed, serving nearly a year in prison before their release in October; Sam Rainsy remains abroad to avoid prosecution.

The Sam Rainsy Party leader was also found guilty of disinformation last year in connection with attempts to vindicate his border protest; in total, he faces 12 years in prison if he returns to the country.

Var Kimhong said yesterday that Sam Rainsy’s actions had created an “obstacle” for the demarcation process.

Animal smuggler arrested in Baray

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Phak Seangly

Baray district military police in Kampong Thom province arrested a 40-year-old man and confiscated 21 illegally transported wild animals, which were confiscated by the provincial forestry administration on Wednesday, according to Khun Bunhuo, Baray district military police commander.

He added that officials and traffic police chased a car on National Route 6 and apprehended a taxi driver who was smuggling eight porcupines, three lizards and 10 turtles from Stung Sen town to Baray district, but an accomplice who purchased the animals managed to escape in the ensuing chase.

“The owner ran away, leaving wild animals in the car, and we immediately arrested the driver and sent the animals to the forestry administration,” Commander Khun Banao said.

He added that his officials have “cracked down” on four cases of wild-animal smuggling so far this year.

Hem Tes, director of the Transportation and Public Affairs office in Baray district and one of 10 officials involved in the arrest, said they were on traffic duty when one policeman coincidentally saw the animals in the car, which prompted the arrest.

He added that his men accepted four million riel (about US$1,000) in compensation from one of the suspects in exchange for assurance that the car would be returned after the investigation.

“My group did receive four million riel at the time, but the driver was still sent to police in the province for further investigation,” he said.

Keo Huo, Kampong Thom deputy police chief, declined to comment on the case, saying it was an ongoing investigation.

Vendors threaten further protests

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Kim Yuthana

About 50 phone vendors from the Tuol Sangke market in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district protested yesterday against an increase in rental fees proposed by the market’s owner in a new contract.

Four market representatives met with officials yesterday and have agreed to submit a letter today to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema in order to find a resolution to the dispute.

Pich Nary, 43, a vendor representative, said on Wednesday that the phone vendors are demanding to know why rental fees and what they describe as “tea money”, or informal additional fees, have increased, adding that some of their stalls are being forced to close because of the increase in cost.

She added that the issue arose when vendors asked the market owner about renewing contracts after they were informed of the changes on February 22. The fees increased from $80 a month per stall to $100, and additional fees increased from $200 to $500.

“The fees the market owner is demanding are [unfair] to the vendors and it could be [involved with] corruption also,” she said.

Eng Loeurn, head of Tuol Sangke market, said yesterday that he had no plans to find a solution to the problem despite the protest, before declining to comment further.

Vendors warned that if there is no resolution found soon, they will continue to gather to protest in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.

Huy Hean, chief of Tuol Sangke commune, said on Wednesday that he will send police to prevent the vendors from protesting again and that the market owners and vendors will have to reach a solution soon.

Watchdog decries website blockage

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 James O'Toole

AN international press freedom group has registered concern over the government’s apparent attempts to block opposition blog KI-Media and other anti-government websites.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the move was part of a worrying trend of online censorship in the Kingdom.

“We are troubled by reports that Cambodia is increasingly curbing online freedom,” Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s Senior Southeast Asia Representative, said in the statement.

“We urge Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to immediately reverse course. The Internet is one of the few spaces left for free expression in Cambodia and that is how it should remain.”

Earlier this month, users of local Internet Service Providers including WiCam, Ezecom and Metfone reported that they were unable to access Ki-Media. WiCam users briefly received a message stating that the site had been “blocked as ordered by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia”.

MPTC officials initially denied ordering that KI-Media be blocked, though in an email to local ISPs that was leaked earlier this month, Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the Directorate of Telecommunications Policy Regulation at the MPTC, chided several firms that had yet to block KI-Media and other opposition sites and urged them to do so.

KI-Media made the news in December when Seng Kunnaka, a security guard employed by the United Nations World Food Programme, received a six-month jail term for incitement just days after he was arrested for printing out an article from the website and sharing it with co-workers.

Hun Sen lauds Indonesia talks

Photo by: Pha Lina
Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures while speaking at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh yesterday.

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Vong Sokheng

Prime Minister Hun Sen has praised the role of Indonesia in mediating between Thailand and Cambodia following deadly clashes along their shared border earlier this month that left at least 10 people dead and displaced thousands of civilians.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong joined Thailand’s Kasit Piromya and the rest of the foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta this week for a meeting to address the dispute.

While not adopting a formal ceasefire, Thailand and Cambodia agreed to allow a delegation of unarmed Indonesian observers to join troops on both sides of the border near Preah Vihear temple to monitor the situation.

In an address yesterday at the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen praised the result of the meeting and said he hoped Indonesia would continue to mediate in the dispute even after it gives up its position as ASEAN chair at the end of this year, at which time Cambodia will take up the post.

“Indonesia now plays a significant role in the region, and therefore Indonesia should continue this role,” Hun Sen said. “Our idea is to request that Indonesia continue in its role on behalf of ASEAN.”

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to meet for bilateral talks on the border dispute in a third country, most likely Indonesia. Hun Sen said yesterday that these talks would begin between the defence ministers of the two countries rather than with their Joint Border Committee. Thailand and Cambodia have been demarcating their shared border under the auspices of the JBC, though talks have been stalled since 2009, pending the repeatedly delayed approval of the latest negotiations in the Thai parliament.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thailand was prepared to launch a “full retaliatory attack” if Cambodian troops entered its territory, comments that prompted Hun Sen to compare him to a “drummer preparing for war”. Hun Sen said Kingdom forces had been instructed only to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty and not to cross into Thailand.

In an unrelated digression yesterday, the Premier also warned that the government would take action against any motorists caught drag racing in their cars.

“Those car racers will have to go to court and sleep in prison,” he said. “They have money to buy cars, so they should not hesitate to pay their fines.”

Police Blotter: 25 Feb 2011

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Sen David

Domestic worker hurt in dash for freedom
A 23-YEAR-OLD domestic worker was seriously injured after she jumped over the fence of her employer’s home on Monday. Police said that she came from Kampong Thom province and she decided to find work in Phnom Penh. She was forced to do housework every day and night with little rest and meager pay. She wanted to visit her family but her employer refused, so she decided to jump over the fence and fell, injuring her feet. She has since been sent to hospital.

Suspect arrested over rape of teenager
POLICE in Kampong Thom’s Prasat Sambor district arrested a 27-year-old man on Monday as a suspect in the rape of a 17-year-old girl. The victim said that they had known each other for more than three months and they went to a wedding party together, where the suspect allegedly fell in love with her. He offered to take her home, which she agreed to, but then raped her on the way and escaped.

Football game results in a stabbing frenzy
Three men were severely injured after they stabbed each other over a dispute in Kampong Chhnang’s Rolea Ba’ier district on Tuesday. Police said the three men are friends and played football together in a pagoda when a fight erupted because one of them kicked a football at another one’s head and knives were pulled. They were sent to hospital, yet witnesses said that they are cruel people because they fought over a such a small problem and nearly stabbed each other to death.

Lack of lights leads to motorcyclist’s death
A 22-year-old man was killed in a traffic accident that left another man seriously injured on his arms and legs in Svay Rieng’s Svay Chrum district on Monday. Police said that the accident was completely the fault of the victim who drove a motorbike without his headlights on when another motorbike crashed into him and both of them were sent to hospital. Police said that if the victim wore a helmet, he would not have died.

Police found to have long memories
Police in Siem Reap’s Angkor Chum district arrested a 37-year-old man who is suspected of committing a robbery in 2005. Police said that after the robbery the suspect escaped to Thailand and worked there for more than five years without suspicion. He had hoped that police had forgotten the case, but when he returned to Siem Reap to visit his family police arrested him on an arrest warrant pertaining to the theft of a victim’s motorbike in 2005.

Technology develops within banking sector

Photo by: Pha Lina
Chipphal Ouk, business development manager for IDG ASEAN, speaks about ITC development during a press conference yesterday. Banks in the Kingdom are increasing their use of technology.

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 May Kunmakara

THE domestic banking industry is making increased use of Information and Communication Technology, though usage lags behind many international counterparts, experts said at a conference yesterday.

National Bank of Cambodia officials said the domestic banking and finance sector is becoming increasingly developed, adding ICT will play an important role particularly in developing the stock exchange, payments systems, and credit bureaus.

“These areas require specific technological platforms in order to make functions operational,” said NBC Banking Supervision Department director general Pal Buy Bonnang at the third Banking and Microfinance Cambodia Conference held at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel yesterday.

“The role of stakeholders particularly in ICT development is a high priority. Although we are not the experts, the NBC is strongly supportive of the development and contribution from the private sector.”

Domestic banking companies have made increased use of technology in recent years. ACLEDA Bank launched its Unity mobile phone banking service last year. ANZ Royal, meanwhile, has offered internet banking in Cambodia since 2005, according to chief executive officer Stephen Higgins.

Canadia Bank vice president Dieter Billmeier said on conference sidelines that his bank was also interested in launching internet banking.

“We are working on that, and we hope that it will be starting in 2012. Not only an accounting system, but real internet banking,” he said.

The number of internet subscriptions has increased rapidly in Cambodia, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Cambodia had 173,675 internet subscribers in 2010, an increase on 29,589 a year earlier, statistics last month showed.

Spreading banking services via ICT is also imperative to plugging Cambodia into the global economy, according to Chun Vat, secretary general of the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority.

“To modernise and drive innovation in the banking and financing sector, we need to deploy ICT effectively to harness greater productivity, integration and convenience,” he said.

Increased use of technology meant bankers would better be able to respond to market changes, he said.

International Data Group business development manager Chipphal Ouk said technology usage at Cambodia’s banking sector was increasing at a fast pace, especially through the presence of large international banks.

Cambodia has the potential to quickly reach international standards of ICT usage in its banking system, as much of the required technology was readily available, he said.

Officials push firms to use Mekong

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Chun Sophal

Cambodia is pushing businesses to make greater use of the Mekong for transportation, after an agreement with Vietnam easing restrictions on river transport went into effect last year.

Ministry of Public Works and Transportation Secretary of State Mom Sibon said Cambodia currently could benefit more from use of the Mekong river than it does at present. “We want our citizens to use the river [for] transporting goods as costs are cheap and transportation can be on a large scale,” he said at a seminar held in Phnom Penh yesterday.

An agreement inked in December 2009 and enacted in June 2010 eased restrictions for boats travelling the Mekong.

Cambodian ships were given direct access to Vietnam’s Cai Mep deep-water port under the agreement, while reciprocal privileges were offered to Vietnamese ships at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port.

Last year, the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port handled more than one million tonnes of goods travelling to and from Vietnam, but Mom Sibon yesterday said there was the potential to transport more than two million tonnes in coming years.

Yesterday, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port Director Hei Bavy said investors could be confident there were strong laws in place for Cambodian, Vietnamese, and foreign firms transporting goods on the river.

Cambodia National Mekong Committee Secretary General Pich Dun said increasing use of the river for transport could assist economic and social development, adding that the committee would support increased transportation.

Trade figures conceal major export issues

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:02 Steve Finch

Even by the recent standards of a world economy posting sharp increases in trade against the 2009 slump, Cambodia’s a near 50-percent rise in exports to Vietnam represents significant progress, at least on the surface.

Beneath the impressive numbers, Cambodia is not only still struggling to add value to exports, it is also pursuing trade and investment policies that have further entrenched the economy’s main structural problems.

Much of the US$277 million in Cambodian exports to Vietnam last year – up from $186 million in 2009 – came in the form of unprocessed agricultural products such as rice and rubber, whereas Vietnam in turn exported mainly process goods, hence the huge $1.325 billion trade deficit.

For Cambodia, the stated target of $2 billion in bilateral trade is at best irrelevant and possibly counterproductive if all it represents is a widening deficit and rising exports of raw agricultural products that in many cases are processed and exported by Vietnam itself.

Cambodia’s burgeoning trade deficit with Vietnam is certainly a concern, but more worrying is the manner in which key industries such as rubber are being developed without consideration for the long-term impact, or lack thereof, that current policy could have on the future export economy.

Cambodia must be looking to add downstream processing if agricultural industries are to realise their full potential

Ignoring advice from, among others, the United Nations in a July 2009 report calling on Cambodia to reduce its export tax on rubber to raise competitiveness, last December the government instead increased the $50-per-tonne flat rate to $300 on the highest-grade rubber.

Even beforehand, the export tax on rubber was higher than in neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand, which charge just 5 percent and a maximum $33 per tonne respectively.

Given Cambodian rubber exports fell 15 percent last year due to cross-border smuggling, according to Ly Phalla, head of the General Directorate of Rubber, this policy will surely only serve to further motivate rubber producers to bypass customs.

With Cambodia adding little value to rubber exports, tax collection makes sense in theory but in practice the government would do better to tackle alleged corruption at customs to help reduce the informal fees that further promote smuggling.

Over the longer term, Cambodia must be looking to add downstream processing if rubber and other agricultural industries are to realise their full potential for the domestic economy.

Although data showed Cambodia has increased the number of private rubber processing plants from just one in 2004 to around 20 today, according to Ly Phalla, these facilities only convert natural rubber to latex (and usually at low grades).

There is still not a single factory in the country that produces tyres or other rubber products. “We have plans to ask foreigners to invest [in rubber-goods factories],” Ly Phalla told The Post yesterday.

But despite interest from an Indonesian Bridgestone representative at this week’s rubber conference in Siem Reap, there are still no concrete plans for a rubber facility, he added. The government therefore needs to better calibrate economic policy to turn this interest into concrete reality. Only then can Cambodia begin to address its burgeoning trade deficit.

Spectators crowd annual puppet parade

Photo by: INAL KABALOEV for Spoolworks Studios
The crowd gathered in Siem Reap for the Giant Puppet Project street parade was wowed by the energetic spectacle.

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:00 Michael Sloan

More than 1000 Siem Reap school kids and their families participated in an hour-long parade through town on Saturday night as part of the fifth annual Giant Puppet Project.

One of the aims of the project is to revive the lost art of Cambodian street parades, and organisers said crowds attending the march were the largest since the project was first started in 2007. Up to 5000 spectators thronged the route to catch a glimpse of the 10 giant tissue paper and rattan puppets on parade, many based on creatures from Khmer folklore, or designed to promote causes such as road safety.

The puppets, assembled by students and volunteers at a series of local workshops over the past few months, wound their way through the streets of downtown Siem Reap before the parade terminated outside Raffles Hotel d’Angkor, where spectators witnessed a display of bokator by children from the Green Gecko Project.

Many tourists in the crowd praised the parade as one of the highlights of their visit to Siem Reap. Dutch tourist Marleen Herten said she stumbled across the parade and “did not expect to see a street carnival like it while visiting Cambodia”.

US charity volunteer Elliot Linzer said the parade was the second he has witnessed. “It’s a great example of a project serving the local community in an original way.”

The Giant Puppet Project is the brainchild of a trio of UK artists and, since its inception in 2007, has grown into an annual parade with 10 different NGOs participating and financial support coming from a number of local businesses.

Giant Puppet Project artistic director Jig Cochrane said the parade’s organisers have trained an increasing number of artists and students from the Phare Ponleu Selpak Art School in Battambang to conduct workshops at local primary schools where the puppets are made.

Cochrane explained that the annual Puppet Project is tightly scheduled with planning beginning in early February before volunteers fan out to 12 local organisations and schools to conduct puppet-building workshops with an estimated 600 to 800 students.

Cochrane says that most puppets in the parade can be assembled in workshops within two days. Tissue paper used to build the outer coverings of the puppets is sourced from local suppliers following a series of fundraisers at Siem Reap bars in the lead-up to the parade each year.

Cochrane says one goal of the project is to repopularise street festivals in Cambodia.

“To me it’s a very ordinary thing but you speak to people on the streets in Cambodia and they’ve never seen a street parade before.

“All the countries in this region have carnivals and street parades, and it’s something that would have been going on here in pre-Khmer Rouge period,” he said.

Another key element to the parade is that it’s aimed squarely at children who both create the models and make up the majority of spectators.

“One of the main things is to create something wonderful and incredible and make people go: ‘Wow, look at what those kids did’.”

He said that for most of the kids who take part in the parade, “it’s really unusual to be in a situation where people are waving at them”.

This year the Puppet Project had support from 10 NGOs working in Siem Reap. Globalteer volunteers Emma Fisher and Kay Yasugi spoke at length about their experiences teaching children how to assemble the early stages of each puppet at local workshops, and explained that the process involves several volunteers spending two days with groups of between 15 and 30 children and translators assembling the frame of each puppet.

The puppets are then placed on trolleys and electrified in the days leading up to the parade.

Puppet Project marketing and communications coordinator Bina Hanley said this year’s money donated by spectators during the parade was just over $1000. She said fundraising efforts are active all year with over $3000 collected through donations to the project’s Virgin Money Giving Account and several fundraisers at local bars including Abacus and Funky Munky raising $2250. Organisers this year also received a $5000 donation from an anonymous source.

Local hotels and businesses also donated accommodation and supplies for the volunteers and participants.

Man About Town: 25 Feb 2011

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Woon’s new tune
Siem Reap’s popular tourist attraction, the floating forest, is the backdrop for the video of the second single from UK singer-songwriter and producer Jamie Woon’s forthcoming debut album, Mirrorwriting.

Woon, who recently placed fourth on the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll and who also recently wowed Phnom Penh, has just released the visuals of him singing an a cappella version of "Lady Luck".

The evocative video was filmed on Tonle Sap and was created by author and director Suridh Hassan of London’s mega trendy The SRK Studio.

On the studio’s website, Hassan commented on the video and said: “Filmed this just before Xmas and it was a sweet little shoot … a few Korean tourists got on our nerves but the persistence of everyone in our little boat paid off.”

Art house explosion
THE emergent trend in Siem Reap seems to be for artists to transform part of their houses into studios and galleries that are open to the public.

One of Temple Town’s most successful commercial graphic designers, Loven Ramos, is also one of the Reap’s leading art-for-art’s-sake creative exponents.

He’s the driving force behind the high-profile Art Deli, and tonight he’s launching “phase one” of his new villa home and studio, 1961, with the slogan “today is yesterday’s tomorrow”.

He said 1961 came to him “as an inspiration to the ‘nowness’ of how we all imagined the future to be in the sixties. The decade of revolutions in art, fashion, architecture, politics, and music, the 1960s were also Cambodia’s golden age”.

Not, of course, that Loven was alive in the ’60s, as he’s now only 32 years of age. But he vigorously makes his claim to be a child of the ’60s by stating that his mother was a hip fashion designer in that era and he grew up surrounded by photos and memorabilia of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

For more information, contact Loven on 015 378 088.

Meanwhile, Lim Muy Theam, who participated in the creation of Artisans d’Angkor, where he was artistic director for more than 10 years, is opening his new studio, atelier and residence, Theam’s House, tonight.

The Paris-trained artist now specialises in lacquered polychrome paintings that are mostly figurative.

He says that being “fascinated by nature in transformation, impassioned by the Khmer culture and the revival of Cambodian life after decades of war and silence”, the main aim of his new venture is “to create an open space of free expression and exchange where emotion and knowledge can be shared in various artistic and cultural fields”.

For details, contact Theam on info@theamshouse.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Whiffenpoofs visit
THE Victoria Angkor Resort in Siem Reap has signed up the Yale Whiffenpoofs to perform their collegiate a cappella ditties sometime in early June this year.

The Whiffenpoofs are the oldest collegiate group in the US, having been founded in 1909. One of its best-known alumni is Cole Porter, who sang in the 1913 lineup of the Whiffenpoofs when he was a student at Yale. Now the group often performs Porter songs in tribute.

The group has previously performed in Siem Reap and is popular among people who like that sort of thing. The word whiffenpoof originated in the 1908 opera Little Nemo, based on a comic strip called Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Photo show launches
IT’S a busy time for the arts tonight, February 25, in Siem Reap, with the Angkor Hospital for Children launching a new photography exhibition that will run until July.

Portraits from Burma and China by Monica Denevan features photographs from the two vastly different Asian countries. The photographer’s specialty seems to be Myanmar where she has been photographing for 10 years, taking many intimate portraits of Myanmar friends and families on the Irrawaddy River.

The press release states: “Denevan’s composed photographs integrate the figure within the natural environment, away from cities and villages. Her work is quiet and meditative, languid and sensual.”

San Francisco-born Denevan studied photography at San Francisco State University. Her photographs have been exhibited in Hong Kong, Paris, London and Los Angeles. In Siem Reap, her work has been shown at the McDermott Gallery in 2006, and at the Grand Hotel d’Angkor in 2007.

She is represented by Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, Tao Evolution in Hong Kong, Capital Culture in London, and Duncan Miller Gallery in Los Angeles.

The launch starts at 6:30pm and runs until 8:30pm. The hospital founder, Kenro Izu, will attend, there will be a performance by children from the Siem Reap International School and there will be a raffle at the end of the evening.

For more information, contact Ms Liem Sokunthea on 092 533 052.

Ancient ritual revived through classical dance at Angkor Wat

Dancers from the Nginn Karet Foundation perform an ancient ritual at Angkor Wat.

Buong Suong ceremony is designed to call on traditional gods to ensure the prosperity of Cambodia

via CAAI

Friday, 25 February 2011 15:00 Michael Sloan

The highest and most sacred level of Angkor Wat’s central temple was closed to visitors last Saturday to enable a private performance of an ancient ritual by five virginal dancers from the Nginn Karet Foundation.

The ritual is called Buong Suong Tiyaie and it was performed by the dancers who were aged from 10 to 14.

The dancers also performed another dance ritual called the Buong Suong Tep Apsor at the four points of the Bakan, Angkor Wat’s principal sanctuary at the top of the central tower to re-sanctify the temple.

The founder of the Nginn Karet Foundation, Ravynn Karet-Coxen, says the Buong Suong ceremony is a ritual designed to call on traditional gods to ensure the prosperity of Cambodia in the coming year, with
the dancers acting as a physical link between heaven and earth. Karet-Coxen explained that Buong Suong Tiyaie is a classical Cambodian dance ritual designed to be performed by virginal dancers, usually of royal descent, wearing white garments, and includes specific prayers to guarantee the territorial integrity of Cambodia and the health of the royal family.

During Saturday’s ceremony, the lead dancer wore jewellery dating from the Khmer Empire, similar to pieces worn by figures in stone reliefs around Angkor Wat.

The jewellery included a moon-shaped pendant that Karet-Coxen believed possessed magical powers according to Khmer folklore, and was loaned to the Nginn Karet Foundation for the occasion by a private collector.

Karet-Coxen said the ritual is one of many aimed at “restoring Angkor Wat to a site of pilgrimage, not archaeological interest”.

She chose the date of the performance to coincide with Meak Bochea, a Buddhist observance day celebrated on the full moon, which commemorates a meeting between Buddha and 1250 monks.

During this meeting Buddha summarised his teachings into the three main principles: Do not do evil, do good, purify your mind.

Karet-Coxen remarked that many tourists visiting Angkor Wat were unaware the temple was still an active religious site important to both Hindus and Buddhists.

Many ceremonies traditionally performed at the site were unable to be staged during the Khmer Rouge period, and many have now almost been forgotten.

The Nginn Karet Foundation was established in 1994 to provide education and health programs to 14 villages in the Banteay Srey district.

The foundation then established a stand-alone dance conservatory under the patronage of Princess Norodom Bopha Devi which trains 178 musicians and dancers.

Karet-Coxen said the conservatory was the first traditional dance school founded in rural Cambodia and “aims to enrich the traditional culture of Cambodia by re-introducing traditional Khmer folk and classical dances which have fallen out of favour”.

Training is treated as an academic discipline and students are required to attend normal school classes in addition to their daily dance instruction.

Karet-Coxen says the five dancers who took part in the Buong Suong ritual at Angkor Wat were all required to wear simple cotton costumes and natural fibre adornments, and had their hair arranged in patterns inspired by bas reliefs at the temple to emphasise the “ancient legacy of the dance” and the significance of Angkor Wat as the cradle of Khmer culture.

Karet-Coxen says she was concerned the number of tourists present at historical sites such as Angkor Wat was cheapening the temple’s significance.

“Cambodia should consider moving to a tourism model similar to Nepal, which values quality over quantity,” she said. “If we limited the number of visitors each year but increased the cost of visiting sites such as Angkor Wat the government would be able to better preserve the site but still retain the same amount of tourism revenue.”

Community Resistance to Forced Evictions in Cambodia

Interview with UN Special Reporteur Dr. Surya Subedi

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 (End)

JPAC Mission in Cambodia

Indonesia’s mediating role in ASEAN

via CAAI

Lina A. Alexandra, Jakarta
Thu, 02/24/2011

The United Nations Security Council’s decision to allow Indonesia — as chair of ASEAN — to begin mediating the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple has enhanced Indonesia’s foreign policy work in ASEAN. After a period of foreign policy hibernation with little maneuvering, Indonesia has now returned to demonstrate its leadership potential.

This leadership does not mean the country will be telling others what to do. Instead, Indonesia is taking responsibility and encouraging and ensuring that the countries in the region observe the principles and norms that they agreed to as ASEAN members, including the peaceful settlement of disputes.

It so happens that the country’s aim to reestablish a strong leadership role in the region, as one its major foreign policy goals, faced significant challenges in the early period of its leadership in ASEAN this year.

The main focus of Indonesia’s chairmanship is to ensure that significant progress is being made in the community’s pillars. This would then open the way to fulfilling the second and third aims: to maintain ASEAN’s centrality in shaping regional architecture and to develop the vision of the “ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations” beyond 2015.

It is inevitable that positive developments will result from the Indonesia-led mediation process, contributing to the development progress of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC).

On the other hand, the breaking down of the ceasefire and the unwillingness of Thailand and Cambodia to stay at the negotiating table has been noted as another symptom that it will be impossible to achieve the APSC by 2015.

Furthermore, the impact on our foreign policy formulation could be severe. Just a few years back there was discussion to push for a rethinking of Indonesia’s foreign policy that placed ASEAN as the cornerstone, with ASEAN issues seemingly overshadowing other matters.

It has also been claimed that Indonesia should not be too dependent on ASEAN since many of Indonesia’s progressive proposals to move ASEAN ahead have been abandoned and compromised to satisfy the “old-fashioned” way of thinking that keeps ASEAN stagnant and irrelevant in meeting new security challenges.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in his remarks before the UN Security Council last week described the three objectives of the Thailand-Cambodia mediation process.

First, both parties will be strongly encouraged to adhere to the principles elucidated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and the ASEAN Charter, namely the peaceful settlement of disputes and the renunciation of the use and the threat of the use of force.

Second, ASEAN supports the two warring parties respecting the ceasefire.

Third, efforts will be made to urge the two sides to return to the negotiating table. These goals must be achieved not only through good mediation, but more importantly it depends on the strong and serious commitment and willingness of Thailand and Cambodia to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute.

If the mediation process fails, which would happen if one side resorts to the use of force for their own selfish interests, people may think ASEAN has no hope. The Indonesian public may question why ASEAN bothered to try and mediate and even why the country has ASEAN as a cornerstone of their foreign policy if other member states do not respect ASEAN’s core principle to live in peace

Ideally, this case will create momentum to see the High Council mechanisms function as in Article 14 of TAC. The Rules of Procedure of the High Council, which were adopted in July 2001 by ASEAN countries, actually bind member states to use the High Council’s dispute settlement procedure.

Nevertheless, the willingness of both parties to accept the decision to use regional mechanisms with Indonesia having a mediating role should be appreciated, although both parties did seek the UN’s help instead of ASEAN’s. But this is the best solution so that the issue is not internationalized. Meanwhile, it is expected that the more fellow ASEAN member states are allowed to play a role, the more countries will believe in the impartiality of their fellow countries, which in turn will create confidence and comfort to invoke regional mechanisms such as the High Council in the future.

It is thus hoped that Indonesia will prove itself in filling the leadership vacuum in ASEAN. Strong leadership by Indonesia should be created through continuous and tireless efforts to develop capacities to initiate the use of regional conflict resolution mechanisms to deal with conflicts.

Indonesia should even seek out this proactive role not only during its short ASEAN chairmanship period but also beyond. This role can also be played to deal with protracted intra-state conflicts that carry the potential to spill over and disrupt regional peace and stability. If these mediating solutions continue, it seems we do not have too long to go before the APSC is achieved.

The writer is a researcher in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta.