Friday, November 13, 2009

Suspension of Immunity – What’s It All About

The National Assembly is poised to lift Sam Rainsy’s immunity so that the local government in Svay Rieng can subpoena him in connection with the removal of border markers.

In most but the most-ardent SR supporting circles, Sam Rainsy’s actions were seen as foolish and inappropriate for an elected MP. Sam Rainsy appears as though he is out to rattle Hun Sen’s chain whenever and wherever he can. What also riled Hun Sen obviously very much were Sam Rainsy’s remarks in Bangkok when he spoke at the Southeast Asian Press Alliance. Hun Sen made that clear in his various statements about the Thaksin issue. Equally clear to most observers is the fact that this is an issue of head-butting between the two, never mind that Sam Rainsy said he wanted to draw attention to the Eastern border and help local villagers. Hun Sen wants to show Sam Rainsy and others like him that there is no way they can accomplish anything by working against him and his government. Hun Sen’s feelings were expressed in his recent interview he gave in Tokyo regarding the Thaksin spat. He said this is between Abhisit and him, not between the countries. The same applies to the Sam Rainsy issue. This is not about political differences, this is about Sam Rainy’s hardheaded, intransigent approach to opposition politics versus Hun Sen’s idea of how to run the country and his severe dislike of Sam Rainsy - and Mu Sochua by the same token – returned overseas Khmer who led a comfortable life while the rest suffered through hardship. Just as Sam Rainsy uses every opportunity to show up the government and its failures, Hun Sen will use every opportunity to show Sam Rainsy who is the boss. And he will use the instruments of power given to him by his landslide victory in the last election.

Nevertheless, in this instance just as in the Mu Sochua case one must wonder whether the steps taken to make their point are appropriate too. Just as it would probably have been wiser to just let matters rest with Ms. Sochua, it would appear to be prudent policy to just give Sam Rainsy a slap on the wrist. Seeing this from a foreigner’s perspective, there must be other instruments available than lifting an opponent’s parliamentarian immunity to discipline him for inappropriate, possibly minor illegal, actions. Censure or simple reprimand comes to mind. The Vietnamese government could probably be mollified by an official apology, notwithstanding the fact that the border markers were possibly unofficial. But just as Sam Rainsy is pretty hardheaded so is Hun Sen. And there is no question who is going to be the loser. The Prime Minister is not just content to sideline Sam Rainsy as others more even-tempered heads of government would do, he must teach him a lesson. Sam Rainsy probably reckons the world will in the end step in to rein in Hun Sen if he indeed were arrested and possibly sent to jail. But history should have taught him that this is unrealistic. As much as Western governments pay lip service to human rights and democratic opposition politics, they consider this a country’s internal affairs and consequently will not meddle in Cambodia’s affairs.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

KJE,

There is no single word mentioned about the Khmer people who lost their farm lands which is the main issue.

where do you get your education and value?

KJE said...

2:35
This is not the subject of the post.

Anonymous said...
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KJE said...

To the 4 posters whose posts above were removed.

Since you use the word 'farang' I assume that you are Thai-friendly. I removed your posts because they have nothing to do with my commentary. You only want to insult people. You should go to KI-Media. That is the right place for people like you. You can discuss things and hold a contrarian point of view but normal, educated people maintain at least a minimum of decorum when dealing with opposing views. It is the narrow-minded people like you who actually hinder progress and reconciliation. It should be clear to everyone by now, that hard-headed opposition won't change a thing in Cambodia, only engagement and constructive cooperation will.

Anonymous said...

And you are a badly educated communist barang unfit to live in your country and come to downgrade American value among communist dictators. It is people like you who put American value down.

What kind of reconciliation do you have while you always stampede on the victims, the poor and the powerless, only the communists, fasists, anddictators do that.

Anonymous said...

Sam Rainsy's action at the border was done to stir up supporters temporarily, especially those overseas Cambodian members who are mostly his "yes-men" who believe in Sam Rainsy regardless what he does. What Sam Rainsy needs is someone who dare to challenge his decision besides members of the CPP. Independent minded individuals who challenge Rainsy's behavior and actions are being called by his supporters as the CPP stooges.

Rainsy needs to change his behaviors if he want Hun Sen's cooperation. Otherwise, he will be the opposition leaders for ever.

That where he belongs.

KJE said...

6:27
You must be kidding when you espouse American values. This is a propaganda term and is used by American politicians to keep their people in line. Don't you read the newspapers?
You are missing my point altogether. Only by being conciliatory in your actions and words can you persuade and convince your political opponent. Have you ever heard of negotiations? This is what people holding different views always do. In the end this will lead to progress and improvement for the poor, abused, and downtrodden. You don't seem to know too much. Using epithets isn't the way to go. Why aren't you back in Cambodia helping your own poor people. Why do the NGOs and foreigners like me have to go there and invest money, provide jobs, hospitals, care for the elderly and the orphans? Why not all those foul-mouthed overseas Khmer like you? Maybe you can't go because you lack the know-how, the general education, and most of all the spirit. You'd rather sit at home in the U. S., or wherever you are, and insult other people.

KJE said...

8:01
That's exactly my point. I don't approve of many things and ways things are done in Cambodia. There is no need for me to criticize the government and the CPP. Many others do that, like Human Rights Watch, Licadho, etc.

Nobody ever says anything how wrong Sam Rainsy is in many ways. Because his party and his followers must do it his way or lose their position. I know. I have inside knowledge. He is just as autocratic in running his party as Hun Sen is running the country. But guess what? If Hun Sen weren't autocratic like this nothing would ever happen and get done in Cambodia.

Tim said...

When the Thaksin’s storm is over, the public attentions will be shifted to the Cambodia’s domestic politics. Hun Sen has to deal with a few issues at hand: Ex-King Sihanouk’s letter to have Hun Sen checked Sam Rainsy’s complains against the encroachment by Vietnam; King Sihamoni’s request to have Hang Chackra released; Vietnam’s demand to have Sam Rainsy punished; Mu SocHua’s challenge at the supreme court. These are some of leading issues that will be dealt with by Hun Sen and his administration.

It is important that Sam Rainsy take full responsible of what he had done at the border and that he will not shift the responsibility to those Cambodian farmers who physically pulled the border posts out. It is also quite important that Sam Rainsy returns to Cambodia to face the charge to show that he is not afraid of the Cambodian authority (if he dares.)

However, it is well known in Cambodia that Sam Rainsy has been a “Paing Proch” or “hit and run” politician who always runs away to a foreign country and left his people in the cold. While he is safe somewhere in France, those people who are at the borders live in fear.

I don’t believe that Hun Sen or Vietnam will help put Sam Rainsy in a pedestal by sending him to Cambodian Jail. The worst thing that can happen to Sam Rainsy is that he will be slapped in the risk with a conviction and penalty. With some forms of apology and or some kinds of political bargaining chips, Sam Rainsy will be free to do what he always does best—opposing every move that Hun Sen makes.

That what he does and will do for a living.

Anonymous said...

Tim/KJE,

You are concerned about Sam Rainsy political fortune and forget to mention a single word about the farmers who claimed that they lost their farm land to foreign invader.

KJE said...

1:41
I am concerned about the farmers that lost and are losing their, which after all is their livelihood. But pulling out a few border markers, whether put there according to the border treaty or not, will not help the farmers one bit. Quite the opposite. Just see what kind of uproar this has caused. I am sure you don't want to call that prudent policy on SR's part, do you? I am not saying that I agree with the lifting of immunity, as I pointed out above, but sensitive border questions aren't resolved this way.

KJE said...

Insert 'land' at the end of the first sentence.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
It is an improvement from "This is not the subject of the post."
What kind of uproar this has caused? Can you elaborate more on your thought?

Anonymous said...

KJE,
It is an improvement from "This is not the subject of the post."
What kind of uproar this has caused? Can you elaborate more on your thought?

KJE said...

10:19
Of course, it still isn't the subject of this post. We are talking about the ill-fated activism involved here. The uproar was political, meant as a figure of speech. First SR's followers hailed it as some kind of heroism, second the Vietnamese government blasted it, then the Cambodian government condemned it, SR wanted to get the most publicity out of it and he got it. It was no surprise that they moved to suspend his immunity. See the post itself. Now he went to enlist the European Parliament, which is all well and good. But will it help? Absolutely not. What about the psychology in relation to all the people involved. Politics is played by humans after all. So in order to accomplish something beneficial to the parties involved one ought to consider this before engaging in some kind of activism, whether it might backfire and perhaps produce the opposite from what was intended. How will it help the farmers? Did SR ever think about that? The farmers are for the most part honest, good, and hardworking but ignorant people. They believe SR is powerful and he can help whereas he is actually the opposite. It would have been SR's responsibility to foresee the consequences of his actions, not only for himself but for the farmers. He knows exactly how the authorities would respond. Now the involved farmers are in deep trouble themselves. What about that? One would expect more from an opposition politician. SR is an educated man, but doesn't act very smart. He appears sort of bullheaded. He is so adamant in his stance that there is no room left for negotiations with anybody. Just look at the Human Rights Party fiasco. There can be no two leaders with equal power in SR's world. It's his way or no way. That's Hun Sen's maxim too. How can you reconcile these two. You can't. And the reality is that the government is the way it is. Period. Just imagine they were in a position to form a coalition government, as many parties have to in other countries. That would be impossible with SR. Believe me, Hun Sen is much more flexible when it comes to accommodation. That is not to say he is a great leader, but just read the following post about 'Cambodia's Hun Sen.....'. With SR's attitude and thinking, he will not change anything in Cambodia in his lifetime. Both Hun Sen and SR are relatively young for politicians. There would have to be a sea change of dramatic proportions to achieve the results SR propagates. We all know that won't happen any time soon. Change evolves over time. It doesn't come overnight. Look at Obama's problems with his change. Look how he has to compromise. So it's time for a change of course for SR.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think that the involved farmers are in deep trouble?
Do they just defend their own property?

KJE said...

12:44
The provincial authorities want to indict SR for damage to public property and incitement, or abetting would probably be the better word.

The farmers were accomplices so my understanding is they will in some form or another be prosecuted too.

That's what the good SR should have seen coming.

How do you defend your property in the U. S. or in Europe. Let's assume your neighbor starts building a structure that encroaches on your lot. He claims it's actually part of his land. So you go and tear down the structure? I guess not. You would call the police or file a complaint in court. That's the way it's done. Perhaps you say this would not be so successful in Cambodia but you still have to follow the rules, even if you think they are bent. You can't take matters in your own hands; this would lead to chaos and ultimately anarchy. You can complain and demonstrate in a peaceful way like so many other farmers do. The ultimate step is to ask Hun Sen for help. He usually listens. If you follow the news you would know this. There are always ways to resolve a problem. Khmer people are the ultimate negotiators. The SRP's role would be to help these people negotiate, file actions, etc.; they cannot break the law.

Somebody like SR who professes to uphold the rule of law cannot take the law in own hands. He is a member of the legislature, not the executive.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
If you listen to the farmer involved and understand it, they asked the authority for help but as expected nothing happens.

I am not sure where you come from, but anywhere in the world nobody is going to get persecuted by cleaning your own property. Of cours, for you, Cambodia is an exception.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
In the US or in Europe, people are civilized enough not to invade somebody else property.
Now I wonder what neighborhood do you live in Florida?
How many time do you have to go to court to complain about invadion on your property?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what country do you come from.
How can you suggest the farmers to ask help from Hun Sen?
Can you give me example in your country where people ask help from PM to remove unwanted object from their property?
Cambodia is not that un-civilized.

Anonymous said...

KJE,

May be Cambodia can learn a thing or two from Thailand on how to defend the border.
The last time they tresspased to Thailand, they got shot.
It is quite effective.
If you do not believe me, you can try. Don't blame me if you get shot.

KJE said...

9:08
Yes, they asked the local authority, which does not have jurisdiction over such matters. I don't want to get in the legal process of all this; this would not be on topic. This ensuing discussion is now about the farmers. I wanted to illustrate the ramifications of SR's actions. But one thing is for sure, they were not just cleaning their property. I don't blame the farmers at all. They didn't know better. It seems, though, they were egged on by SR. And that is wrong. If it hadn't been for him, most likely the farmers would not have removed the markers.

9:15
You must be kidding. Don't you read the newspapers? Most of the civil suits are between neighbors, and many of those about fences that were erected on disputed lot boundaries.

9:22
I didn't suggest they go to Hun Sen to seek help. I just pointed to many recent examples where people demonstrated in front of his residence and some got results from that. It's bad enough that a prime minister has to micromanage affairs. But that's the state Cambodia is in.

Anyway, at least we could keep our discussion civilized, and I'd like to thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

What do you think the outcome will be if the farmer did not pull out these post?

KJE said...

They took their complaint to the local authorities, which probably gave them the run-around. So nothing would have happened. The right thing to do for those farmers would have been to seek the help of a rights organization - there are plenty active in Cambodia. Licadho has a wide network of regional offices. Most of all, they needed evidence. These disputes are complicated in any country, why would it be different in Cambodia. No country would tolerate such actions.

Anonymous said...

This is more than just the farm land of some farmers. It is the national border.
Why the local authorities gave them the run-around?

Anonymous said...

I like your recommendation.
"The ultimate step is to ask Hun Sen for help."
What you do not tell them is the last time people talk about border with Vietnam, Hun Sen said that he was happy to give him/ her a
coffin.

KJE said...

12:42
You take things out of context. See above what I was referring too. You don't contribute to a discussion this way.

KJE said...

12:26
Exactly, that's why they couldn't take matters in their own hands, neither could SR. We are moving in circles. Let's close this topic.

Anonymous said...

Do local authorities have the responsibility to protect their own border and refer the case to the "proper" authority?

Anonymous said...

KJE,
You stated that the farmers asked the local authority, which does not have jurisdiction over such matters.
Later you suggested that ""the right thing to do for those farmers would have been to seek the help of a rights organization - there are plenty active in Cambodia.""
You seems to back out of your brilliant idea: ""The ultimate step is to ask Hun Sen for help.""

Is it common pratice in your country to have NGO to resolve border conflict?

Anonymous said...

KJE,
Suspension of Immunity- What is it all about?

When you find the right answer to your question, you will vote for Sam Rainsy.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
The tittle says it all.
Sam Rainsy asks this kind of question all along.
It took you a little longer than others to wake up.

Anonymous said...

4 January 2010
OTHER BORDER MARKERS SURREPTITIOUSLY REMOVED
We have just learnt from local authorities and villagers in Svay Rieng province that several wooden poles supposed to be temporary border markers similar to the ones opposition leader Sam Rainsy removed on 25 October 2009 in Samraong commune, have been surreptitiously removed by the Vietnamese authorities assisted by Cambodian officials.
Sam Rainsy pulled out six wooden poles at border marker # 185. But subsequently, similar wooden poles at nearby border markers # 184, # 186 and # 187 have also been removed by the authorities themselves. At marker # 184 even the concrete foundations under the wooden poles have been dug out, put onto a tractor and taken back to Vietnam.
As Sam Rainsy has exposed, the poles he pulled out were planted on Cambodian farmers’ rice fields that are private properties with the farmers holding legal land titles to justify ownership of their land. Therefore, since the wooden poles were planted on their private properties without their consent, the farmers were entitled to remove them (the poles) or to ask somebody else to do it for them, which Sam Rainsy did at marker # 185.
Now realizing they are on weak legal ground in the prosecution of Sam Rainsy and the concerned farmers, the authorities have surreptitiously resorted to do the same thing as Sam Rainsy did, i.e. removing illegally imposed border markers, which is leading to a judicial imbroglio illustrating the political nature of the charges levied against Sam Rainsy.
SRP Cabinet

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