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KHMERS REGISTERING TO VOTE FACE ‘KAFKAESQUE’ SITUATION

Letter to the Editor published in The Cambodia Daily, 

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Because of corruption, many destitute people of Khmer descent cannot ‘prove Cambodian citizenship.’
For this reason, many are unfairly excluded from democratization processes.

In “Evicted Residents Barred From Registering To Vote” (Friday, page 15), you elaborated on the fact that thousands of people recently evicted from their homes in central Phnom Penh have been barred from registering to vote in their new commune on the outskirts of the capital. Independent observers noted that they were turned away either because they could not “prove residency” in their new commune, or could not “prove Cambodian citizenship.” Read more 

The story of Cambodia

Wednesday, 11 October  2006 Reporter: Fiona Parker

Kate Driscoll is a Horsham-based visual artist, exhibiting at the Wimmera Art Show over the weekend of 14 -15 October, 2006.

Kate was one of a group of 18 Horsham locals who visited the village of Sihanoukville earlier this year to build homes for locals, in partnership with the Tabitha Foundation. While she spent time swinging a hammer, Kate also carried a camera during the trip and became the ‘official photographer’ for the group.

“While I was there, I also decided to take another series of photographs that I’ve set aside outlining my experiences in Cambodia and trying to bring to the world a picture of the plight of Cambodia,” Kate says.

“I have done a lot of backpacking through
Asia over the last few years, and usually when I go, I try to take a series of photographs on a particular topic. But when I got to Cambodia, I was so humbled by the people and moved by their plight that I thought that a story still needs to be told with
Cambodia. The world has basically watched Cambodia but done very little right through the Vietnam War, then afterwards when there was some invasions by
Vietnam, and then the Pol Pot regime.

“There is a feeling that the world could have done more to help
Cambodia.

“For instance, at the moment in
Cambodia, the major killers of children are polio and tuberculosis, coupled with dengue fever – polio and tuberculosis are preventable illnesses in our society.

“It [the exhibition] was mainly to highlight that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in
Cambodia. It has started, and there are many countries in there doing interesting things, but so much work needs to be done.”

Kate says she’s tried to make the exhibition ‘like a fairytale’ – showing
Cambodia’s past as a mythical kingdom, before things went bad.

“It talks about the art and enlightenment, the Khmer empire, and then it goes into the dark forces that gathered – Pol Pot, the killing fields, the S-21 torture chambers [now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum] – then I have a conclusion of photos of the children of today, mainly under about 12 or 15 years of age.

“While they’re cute photos of children, each one of them tells a story. They’re not bright-eyed like our children. There’s a look of sadness or some ill health about them. They’re the future of Cambodia, but they’re not going to be the future of
Cambodia unless those children get a lot of support from the rest of the world.”

The exhibition, Kate says, is a plea for the rest of the world to stop watching
Cambodia, and do something to help

Sam Rainsy Firmly Opposed to Cambodia-Vietnam Border Marker Planting

SEP20061003045002 Phnom Penh Moneakseka Khmer in Cambodian 03 Oct 06

[Report by Sar Botum]

After returning to Cambodia yesterday morning, opposition leader Sam Rainsy called the installation of the border markers conducted according to the bilateral Cambodian-Vietnamese border agreement at the end of last month an act that ran counter to the national interests.Sam Rainsy said, “I still do not think it is a good act conforming to our national interests, because there is no guarantee that the territorial integrity of our country has been properly protected.”Also yesterday, in describing his trip abroad to reporters, Sam Rainsy said he went to a number of European countries to visit his party members and also to open a few offices there.  At the same time, Sam Rainsy disclosed that he met with his publisher and talked about publishing a book on his biography and his views on the situation in Cambodia.

Nevertheless, regarding the installation of the border markers, Sam Rainsy said, “I want to know and to hear about it because, anyway, it concerns our country.”

It should be noted that based on the supplementary convention on the controversial 1985 state border treaty, Cambodia and Vietnam started planting their first border markers in Cambodia at the Bavet international gate of Svay Rieng province and in Vietnam at the Mok Bai pass of Tay Ninh province on Wednesday 27 September.

The inauguration ceremony attended by Hun Sen and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung proceeded in an extremely unpleasant and doleful atmosphere.  Besides a handful of laughing and cheering Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] and Vietnamese leaders, there was no participation as witnesses from the representatives of any other Cambodian political parties, civil society officials, or diplomatic envoys.

Nguyen Tan Dung, in his jovial speech, said that he has long waited for this opportunity in order to put an end to disputes and suspicions along the border of the two countries.

According to Va Kimhong’s hand-written report, the border markers will be planted all along the 1,270-km Cambodian-Vietnamese land border.  Of a total of 353 border markers to be planted, some are made entirely of granite and others a mixture of granite debris and special cement.

The process of border marker installation will be checked against the maps the two countries have re-copied, which are the 1/1000000 SZI map attached to the 1985 state border treaty and the 1/50000 UTM map also attached to the same 1985 treaty.

The border marker installation started after the National Assembly members from the CPP and the FUNCINPEC [National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia] Party raised their hands to approve the convention supplemental to the 1985 state border treaty in October 2005.

A number of Cambodian political personalities as well as civil society representatives said that the start of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border marker installation would seriously harm Cambodia’s national interests.  They noted that the Cambodian maps of the 1960s and 70s were fully recognized as having all the right characteristics by many countries as well as the United Nations, including the leaders of North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

The current process of installing the border makers between Cambodia and Vietnam, however, is conducted on the basis of the newly modified maps attached to the 1985 treaty that is full of irregularities.

Concerning this border marker installation, Kong Koam, vice president of the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP], pointed out that it would make Cambodia lose its sovereignty, integrity, and independence, because in 1985 Cambodia was controlled by Vietnam.

As for Yim Sovan , SRP parliamentarian for the Phnom Penh constituency and chairman of the National Assembly’s 4th Commission, he described the start of the border marker installation as a demise of Cambodia’s right to reclaim the territory it recently lost to Vietnamese encroachments.

Nevertheless, this SRP parliamentarian saved the Cambodian people from losing all hope by assuring them that if the SRP wins the elections, the SRP will review all treaties deemed detrimental to Cambodia’s interests.

At the same time, Cambodians throughout the country, especially those living along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, called the day Hun Sen and Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung joyfully celebrated the start of the border marker installation a day of mourning for the Cambodian people, a day the Cambodian people knew that many additional square kilometers of their territory were snipped away from the map of Cambodia.

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